Time is something that none of us have, yet somehow we feel constantly obliged to respond to an email the minute it is sent. Our inboxes turn into our lives, and if we don't respond right away, they'll get lost in the ether. There's the 24-hour rule, where you have to get to all of your emails within a day, but are there exceptions?

You may think that responding right away gives you a competitive edge. It could mean you are always on top of everything and you don't let anything go by unnoticed or unacknowledged. This is great, but there are a few problems that can arise based on this philosophy.

The sender could think your task took zero effort.

Even if it did, valuable work is recognized by the time it takes to complete it. If someone wrote a book in one day, you'd have a hard time believing it was any good. And if it was, well, you have us fooled.

You could make an (embarrassing) mistake.

We all know that rushing to get things done makes us more vulnerable to mistakes. We're not just talking typos, but what happens if you accidentally send a message to the wrong person with confidential information in it? What happens if you're badmouthing your coworker and hit "send" instead of "delete"?

You could come up with a better answer if you wait.

For emails that require thought, you should milk it within reason. If you're asked for an opinion or recommendation, putting a lot of time into it will make the requester think that you've really taken the task seriously. If you whip off a dinner recommendation in five seconds, you may come up with a better place twelve minutes later.

Here's how to combat the email immediacy issue.

Give an estimated delivery date.

You don't have to have projects done within the day that they are assigned. Respond that you will get it done by this date. Then flag it to put in your Priority file.

Give yourself follow-up reminders.

If you're thinking about how to respond to an email but are wrapped up in another task, mark it as unread and enter a follow-up reminder on your calendar.

Send "I'm still thinking about it" emails in the interim.

Without going overboard, if you're still thinking about an issue and are worrying that the sender thinks you've completely dropped the ball, send a courtesy email that says you're still thinking and you're nearly finished. Remind them that the time you take to formulate a response is valuable. That's what they're paying you for.

Having your inbox up all the time can distract you from getting your other tasks done. So deal with email at a few specific points throughout the day.

It's not an emergency. It's just email. Take your time.

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What do you do when financial hardship hits and you can't make your monthly mortgage payments? This is a question on many homeowner's minds as nearly 17.8 million Americans are reportedly unemployed during the coronavirus pandemic.

When homeowners face financial hardship, such as the loss of a job, they often look to obtain a forbearance agreement from their lender. A forbearance happens when your lender grants you a temporary pause or reduction in monthly payments on your mortgage. Forbearance is not the same as payment forgiveness, in that you still have to pay the entire amount back by an agreed-upon time.

Mortgage lending institutions differ on their mortgage relief policies and qualifications; however, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act were signed into law in late March of this year to protect government-backed mortgages.

Federally backed mortgages include:

  • Fannie Mae
  • Freddie Mac
  • The Federal Housing Administration (FHA)
  • The US Department of Veteran Affairs (VA)
  • The US Department of Agriculture (USDA)

Under the CARES Act, homeowners with a federally backed loan who either directly or indirectly suffer financial hardship due to coronavirus automatically qualify for mortgage forbearance.

Even if your mortgage is not secured by one of these agencies, you still can call and see if you qualify, as many lenders will still offer the option in order to avoid foreclosures.

Under the CARES act, homeowners can claim mortgage forbearance due to financial hardship from COVID-19 for up to 12 months without requiring any documentation or verification. During the forbearance period, mortgage lenders cannot charge late fees or penalties.

Additionally, as long as your mortgage is current at the time you claim forbearance, the lender is required to keep reporting your mortgage as paid current throughout the entire period.

At the end of the forbearance, the CARES act protects consumers from having to make a lump sum payment. Instead, you will be given a repayment plan from your provider. Since repayment options vary, it's important you ask your provider about all of your repayment options.

Possible Repayment Options:

You may be eligible for a loan modification at the end of your forbearance. With modification, the mortgage terms are changed in order to add payments that were missed during the forbearance onto the end of the loan, extending the term.

Another option that may work for some is a reduced payment option. This allows you to keep paying monthly payments at a reduced amount. The amount missed is usually added back into the monthly payments at the end of the forbearance.

For example:

Regular payment: $1000 per month

Reduced payment: $500 per month

Payment after forbearance period: $1500 (until caught up)

Balloon payments, or lump sum payments at the end of the forbearance, are prohibited under the CARES Act. However, mortgage lenders may require homeowners who are not protected under the CARES Act to make a balloon payment at the end, so again it is best to check first with your provider.

Mortgage forbearance should only be considered in true financial hardship. In other words, just because of the pandemic, you should not take a forbearance on your mortgage if you can still afford your payments. Likewise, if you are able to start making payments before the forbearance period is up, it's best to do so as soon as possible.

The Next Steps:

Before you get in touch with your mortgage servicer, save time by gathering as much documentation about the mortgage as you can. Also, be ready to list your income and monthly expenses. Due to an influx in calls, financial institutions are experiencing extremely long wait times right now, and having your information at the ready will help.

Have questions ready to ask. Here are some questions you should be asking:

  • What fees are associated with the forbearance?
  • What are all the repayment options available to you at the end of the forbearance?
  • Will you be charged interest during the forbearance period?

If your forbearance is approved, make sure to keep all documentation pertaining to it. Make sure to cancel any automatic payments to the mortgage during the forbearance period, and keep tabs on your credit report to make sure your lender doesn't report the loan as unpaid.


For more information on forbearance, contact your lender and discuss your options. If you need more assistance with understanding your options, you can contact a local agent for the housing counseling agency, or call their hotline at 1-800-569-4287.