You Don’t Have To Reply To Everybody

Tim Denning

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Ifyou’ve ever decided to publish your work on the internet, there’s a good chance you’ll have people message or email you. For years, I responded to every single message.

There’s this obligation that’s tied to having someone appreciate your work. You feel as though you must respond otherwise you might be metaphorically pissing in their face. The burden of having to respond to people is a vicious cycle. It takes so much of your time and mental energy and many of my blogger friends have burned themselves out attempting to respond to everyone.

Their replies to messages are often short, sharp and lacking any real information (I’m guilty of this as well).

The result is you’re replying to everyone but reaching no one at the same time.

Fuelled by ‘Hell Yes’

Not feeling like I have to reply to everybody came about a few months ago. Blogger and writer Derek Sivers famously coined the term ‘Hell Yes.’

It’s the idea that when someone requests some of your time, if your instant reaction is not HELL YES, then say no. This concept is something that is incredibly powerful when you explore it. The reminder of HELL YES came about the other day when Derek Sivers — the man, the myth, the legend — replied to an email I sent him a while back. It was an email that was carefully crafted and designed to elicit a response out of the reclusive and wise founder of CD Baby.

When his email hit my inbox, it felt weird. He preaches that he very rarely responds and as the inventor of the Hell Yes Movement, it surprised me. Needless to say, there were a few emails back and forth and if I ever needed his help on something, I’m sure he would at least give me the time of day.

The reason this story is valuable is because it reminded me that replying is a choice.

People want to make their priorities your obligations. You can end up carrying a huge burden that is entirely unnecessary.

Let me explain what I mean by this quote. A friend of mine has a website that I occasionally post on when I get time. There was an issue a few weeks ago caused by an upgrade that happened to the site. My work was affected.

He sent me a message to tell me of the problem and told me to fix it right away. I replied back feeling obligated to fix it even though it would distract me from my work, consume days of my time and was entirely nothing to do with me. There were several follow up messages until I decided to stop replying.

I was being forced to take on someone else’s obligation and make it my priority. The truth is whenever I thought about it, the only thought that crossed my mind was “Hell No.”

It’s at that point, I stopped replying to messages.

Being unresponsive bled into other areas

Not only did I ignore this request, but strangely, I stopped replying to a whole bunch of things. Everyone that was messaging me that week had an obligation that they wanted me to make my priority.

The truth was all of these messages that required action were too much given the circumstances of that week. So, not responding became the norm for a while. I dabbled with being elusive and focusing on my own priorities.

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Strangely, the world didn’t end. People gave up pretty quickly and rarely followed up. The so-called urgent issues just disappeared off into Never-Ever Land. It was at that point that I decided from now on, if I don’t have time, I’m going to concentrate on replying to messages that make me say HELL YES!

I’m going to work on myself for a while because for five years I’ve been helping everybody else work on their own lives.

Being unresponsive doesn’t mean you don’t care

Don’t mistake what I’m saying for being rude. There’s no need to be rude and you should appreciate every person that takes an interest in your work.

Being unresponsive is perfectly okay if that’s what you need to do right now to survive another day or prioritize something important.

You can’t be on-call 24/7 to respond to every request of your time. When you do that, you end up having your diary full of events that you wish you could cancel. You try and find ways to get out of stuff last minute instead of politely declining with silence and by being unresponsive.

Sometimes caring means you have to be a shadow for a while and not respond. That’s what I’m doing right now and it’s something you should contemplate doing once in a while.

Your life is yours to own and if being unresponsive helps, then do it.

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Aussie Blogger with 100M+ views — Writer for CNBC & Business Insider. Inspiring the world through Personal Development and Entrepreneurship www.timdenning.com

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