That sound you heard early this morning was the collective “WTF?” sigh by millions of people looking at their computer screen and seeing their unread emails.
A recent study shows that corporate email accounts receive and send an average of 120 a day. Plowing through most can be quick because they just need to be deleted or filed. It’s the ones you decide require a response that pull you down the rabbit hole.
Notice the words “you decide” preceding the word “require.” It’s your choice and it’s always been that way. Mankind as we know it will not cease to exist if you fail to answer all your email messages. It’a a Pavlovian action to hit the REPLY button. It’s likely that most of those emails don’t even require a response.
At least not with another email message.
The rest of what you read will not be a regurgitated list of best practices for dealing with a backlog of unread/unanswered emails. Experts and their ilk have covered that, so let’s stick a fork in it and call it done. Instead – and for the sake of discussion because that’s the point for writing this – here’s a question:
Do your email responses just throw out some deflective flack
to get the heat off your back?
If that question really pushed some of your buttons, it’s because there’s a big elephant in the middle of the room. It’s you.
Email has become your default tool for procrastination. It’s a way for you to push stuff off your plate with some lip service and the click of the mouse button.
Shipping Versus Slipping
So do you become a Luddite and delete your email client? Email is awesome. Try to imagine life without it. How would we efficiently communicate with people across vast distances in the blink of an eye?
Email, however is the optimal solution only when it is being used to offer a solution. Otherwise, email ends up being just like those monsters in the movies that come back in the next scene because they didn’t get killed dead in the first place.
Uncovering pain points like this and killing them with a beautiful solution is how an entrepreneur creates a new business. Maybe it’s time to look at your relationship with email from that entrepreneurial perspective.
Admitting to yourself that something isn’t a priority is better than saying you don’t have time. Responding to email messages with the objective to conclude the discussion is better than replying with something that buys you more time.
It’s this attitude toward productivity and away from procrastination that is the impetus behind the Ubers and the Amazons and the Teslas of our time. If it worked to transform whole industries, imagine what it could do to your email In-Box.