As married as I have been to my email since my first AOL account in 1994, I am finally ready to throw in the towel. It dawned on me a few weeks ago, when my unread emails in my personal account exceeded 500, and was reinforced when I was on vacation last week. It never stops.
I try to keep up, even when I am away. An email or two while waiting on a line, riding in an Uber, or even during a quick trip to the men’s room can go a long way towards stemming the tide of the barrage of emails that come through in any given day.
However, last week, I realized that an unreasonable percentage of my emails were garbage. They remind me of the random newspaper/coupon circular that shows up in my actual mailbox every Friday that goes directly from the mailman to the mailbox to the garbage can.
It’s this bad, and we have filters for everything. At work, I have a junk folder, a clutter folder, and dozens of emails every day that are quarantined. My Gmail account separates junk, social media, and promotions from “regular” email.
Yet even with all of these filters, it is still almost impossible to keep up!
What I realized while I was on vacation is what one of my clients told me six months ago: If it’s important, it’s not in an email. If someone needed me last week, they texted or called.
Keeping up with the different platforms that I use other than email allowed me to stay in the know and connected. I read all my notifications from LinkedIn, VTS, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and responded to every voicemail and text message. Can you imagine that I knew everything I needed to know without opening my emails? While not 100% true, it was close.
Last month, my mother was concerned because she emailed someone that we both know and didn’t receive a response. Without thinking, I asked if she had texted or sent a Facebook message. She hadn’t.
I went on a rant that email is now the least reliable form of communication given all the filters in place.
Last year, I read an article about Tom Patterson, the CEO of Tommy John, the men’s apparel company. He indicated in a recent interview that he is “into time-hacking,” and doesn’t check email between 9:00am – 5:00pm. In fact, he sets his away message as follows,
“I am currently checking email before 9am and after 5pm EST so there will be a delayed response. If this is urgent please call or text. If I haven’t responded in 2 days, kindly resend.”
When I first read the article, had a few thoughts:
- He’s crazy.
- Only a CEO could do that and get away with it.
- He’s obviously not a service provider.