The 24 hour email rule


Listening to a NZ Angles podcast of an interview with the soon-to-be in NZ and prominent US angel investor, Bill Payne, I was reminded of small rule I too like to abide by. It was concerning  email etiquette, particularly ones response times to emails.

Through my various engagements and activities while at University I have found this etiquette to be quite regularly ignored by the vast majority of people. This results in an unwanted and unneeded source of frustration for those in the ‘From:’ box.

Bill has an open invitation to anyone who would like to email him and he’ll be sure to get back to you within 24hours [ I’m going to test him :)]. This is excellent practice. With smartphones now abundant, especially in the corporate scene, ‘I haven’t been at my computer all day’, is simply no longer an excuse. If someone of Bill’s character/popularity can manage it, I’m sure most of us can. It doesn’t need to be the longest email reply – if you can’t give a full reply right now, let them know.

Therefore….. if you have an email address then you should be obliged to use it properly. It is simply good practice no matter what industry.

Try it! Something as simple as this will result in more fruitful relationships with your friends, colleagues, customers, suppliers, students, business acquaintances etc.

Better still, if you happen to have their phone number…. CALL! This is something we appear to have forgotten how to do since emailing was rapidly adopted. Better still if your recipient is just a few offices down the hallway – go talk to them ! And stop being anti-social. People can ignore emails or they can get lost mysteriously. It’s also easier for someone to say ‘no’ in an email. Phone calls put people on their toes resulting in an answer then and there. The personal touch is also a valued benefit 🙂


Graeme @


4 responses to “The 24 hour email rule

  1. While I would like to be able to live up to the 24-hour rule, sometimes due to my own workload I find it impossible to do so. I not infrequently spend nearly all day in meetings (many of which are talking to entrepreneurs directly), and then have to deal with email correspondence (over 100 non-spam emails per day), as well as preparing for the next day’s meetings after I get home.

    There’s the dilemma: do you turn down face-to-face meetings with people and/or become a stranger to your wife and kids so that you can live up to the 24-hour rule?

    I’m not asking for people to feel sorry for me, but I do ask that if I haven’t responded to you in a timely fashion, please email me again (I’m not averse to people using the “urgent” flag) or better yet ring me.

    • Hey Dave
      Thanks for your comment
      Good work on the NZ Angel Blog as well. Always a pleasure to read.
      Any chance you’re attending any ‘Bill Payne events’ in Auckland?

  2. Bring it on Graeme – acknowledging that I will be on an overnight airplane to Auckland soon, and may actually fail the 24-hour test:-)

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