Archive (doesn’t warrant reaction or decision)

  • it’s not worth my time to reply to this
  • Happens 10% of the time, for me

Reply (take a decision)

  • I need to clear the passage and take a decision
  • The decision, if reversible or with low “capital at risk” will be taken almost instantaneously
  • Else I will reply to buy time or seek more data
  • Happens 30% of the time, for me

Forward (delegate)

  • Send it to someone and empower them to take the decision
  • Lay out the rules of the game. And what your expectation is.
  • Don’t share the solution. Then you might as well do it yourself.
  • Once taken, their decision is final. No review.
  • Happens 30% of the time, for me

Compose (create a new task or seek help)

  • Take the lead and create a new task or identify a new problem to solve
  • Create the framework to approach it
  • Assign an owner to the problem
  • Set a time to discuss the possible solutions
  • Track the progress and bring it to closure


And here is what most people do wrong

  • Archive when they should be replying instead
  • Reply when they should be forwarding instead
  • Forwarding when they should be composing instead