Is promptness such a great virtue?

A friend of mine doing investment banking with a Wall Street bank once told me about his managing director, who would frantically reply to every email within 2-3 minutes, no matter what time of the day or night you emailed her.

Clearly, she was very prompt. But why? Is promptness such a great virtue?

We sometimes assume that promptness equals commitment. But is that true?

If someone replies to EVERY email within minutes, I would be deeply worried because it shows two things:

1. That person is busy checking emails every few minutes, instead of focusing on the hard tasks they were hired to do.

2. That person has permitted everybody in the world to interrupt them by just sending an email. How will they ever do focused work?

True commitment is doing our job well, which sometimes takes long hours of uninterrupted focus. Not too many of us are hired to just reply to emails (except, maybe, in customer service).

So here is my recommendation – let us not spend the whole day pouncing on our emails and messages. No need to be that prompt all the time.

For at least a part of your day, set aside time to work without interruption, emails, or messages. I can assure you – nothing bad will happen. If someone has an emergency, ask them to just call you.

This is how you build focus. And this is how you achieve your hard goals even in today’s chaotic world.

– Rajan

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