Today I received over 95 emails. 34 were waiting for me when I woke up and the balance were received up to 6pm, which is where I have stopped counting. I know I’ll get some more before I settle into bed. Now I imagine Bill Gates receives more, and I also imagine he has a few intermediaries that filter out the sorta important and make sure only the really, really important stuff actually lands in the inbox. And I don’t mean the stuff with the red exclamation point (!) ‘cause that’s too easy. I mean the really important stuff.
How did we get like this?
I can almost remember my first electronic mail message in 1994 and how it was just a hello from a co-worker. That’s when the problem started…. I responded to that first $@#*!! email. Now, I feel obligated to respond to just about everything and that response elicits a retort of its own. If my wife sends me an email saying she will be late for dinner, why must I respond ‘OK’? And why must she then respond ‘Thanks’ or ‘Good’? This is crazy and we know it, but we keep it up and up and up.
Of course, a good number of my emails today are unsolicited junk from a magazine I once foolishly subscribed to, or from a trade group that wants to survey my opinion of a conference I did not attend. I’ve learned to delete this fodder in mass without regret. It’s the stuff from friends and business associates that is getting my behind.
Part of my issue this day is a family affair that requires four siblings in four cities to see and respond to queries about family matters. Only three are available today to discuss. Now, maybe this is an example of how email really does eliminate phone calls, but for goodness sakes, do I have to know that all siblings agree on the planting of a tree (really) and am I supposed to respond to their ‘I agree’ comment? I counted 23 emails with the subject line “southern magnolia seedling” (sic). Twenty-three emails to confirm that it’s a gift and will be planted on the edge of the yard. And that does not count my outgoing responses.
Lots of people have tips on keeping emails short and such. My problem is the darn back and forth. Why doesn’t the President or some head coach dictate that anyone agreeing with an email and having no questions is mandated not to reply? Would that even work?
I think I’m smart by not being able to receive emails on my phone, but heck, now I’m afraid to leave the house. Other folks seem to have no problem letting my messages to them sit in their moss-covered inbox for days, even weeks, yet I feel obligated to at least acknowledge receipt almost immediately. It’s like sitting by the phone in the kitchen waiting for it to ring when you’re not even expecting a call.
I need to unshackle. I need to spend about an hour each day on this chore and put it down ‘till tomorrow. I bet that’s what Bill Gates does. But then, how will I know immediately about that thing that’s gonna happen in about a week or the funny joke that might disappear if not read, enjoyed and responded to before the light from my monitor bounces off the back wall. Does this bother you, too?
Email me and let me know.