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It’s Time to Really Think About Email

It’s Time to Really Think About Email
    Think about your relationship with your inbox.

    It’s gone on long enough.

    Email has managed to take hold of too many lives, distracting us from what we really should be doing by sucking us back into responding to messages coming at us on an ongoing basis.

    The technology of email is wonderful in that we can actually communicate with each other from opposite ends of the globe or from right next door with just a few keystrokes and a “whoosh” from our computer’s speakers, but it has come at a cost that is getting out of control.

    With new technology we often get so excited about what it can do that we forget about what it was intended to do. We start to allow the technology to direct us rather than the other way around. A ringing telephone gets answered because it’s simply ringing, a fax gets picked up because it’s just been freshly faxed. And so it goes with email. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

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    It’s time to really think about email – from the inside out.

    Email is defined as follows:

    “…messages distributed by electronic means from one computer user to one or more recipients via a network.” – via Apple’s native dictionary application

    Let’s break that down in a bit. But what I found pretty disturbing from the get-go is the sample sentence offered with the definition:

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    “Reading e-mail has become the first task of the morning.”

    Ugh. Not exactly the most productive way to start the morning. But I digress.

    Email is an abbreviation of “electronic mail”, which brings us back to the term “mail”, which is:

    “…letters and packages conveyed by the postal system.” – via Apple’s native dictionary application

    All of this may seem rather obvious to many of you. But let me ask you: Have you ever stood by the front door waiting for the mail to arrive? You may have on occasion, waiting for a particular package or letter to arrive. But have you done so every day, checking every so often to see if the mail has arrived? Probably not.

    So why do so many of us do that when it comes to email?

    The instantaneous aspect of email has created a reaction in many of us that would be preposterous if we applied it to regular old “snail mail”. Trying to break away from reacting this way to email is difficult because it’s not just your own habits that need to be broken, but the habits of those who are sending you the messages. Trying to explain to them that you are going to be less reactionary when your inbox signals a new message has arrived is a challenge, and it will be a very tough pill for many to swallow.

    But it has to be done.

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    Rarely (if ever) did people let the postal service dictate how their days went. When the mail arrived, it sat in the mailbox until it was ready to be picked up. In some cases, it would be several days before you’d go to the post office to pick it up. Even if you had mail delivered to your door you wouldn’t always jump for it when the mailman arrived to deliver it. We need to start applying the same practice to our electronic mail. We need to be more proactive with it than reactive. We need to rule our email inbox rather than let it rule us.

    When your email program signals that a message has arrived, it isn’t a command to go and check it out. It’s an alarm. It’s a notification. You have a say as to when you’ll venture into your inbox. Once you start to take back control of email, you’ll find that going into your email program is less of a chore and more a matter of routine – a routine you’ve designed. Think about it: how many emails are sitting in your inbox right now? Why are they there? Is it because you’ve yet to deal with them and have no desire to? Is it because you are using your mailbox to manage what you have to do on a daily basis rather than using your mailbox as a means of gathering information to add to the place you should be putting them so that you can properly manage your tasks?

    Why does electronic mail seem more important than non-electronic mail?

    Sure, electronic mail has also replaced the phone in many cases. Yet there are times where we’ve “held our calls” when we’re doing something that requires total focus and no distractions or interruptions. Do we do that for email as well? We should.

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    Email Alternatives

    1. Instant messaging. Should be used when a response is needed immediately. Think of it as the phone for the 21st century.
    2. Telephone. Still works better than both email to convey the importance of matters at hand. Instant messaging is more efficient at allowing people to track conversations, but the phone is more…human.
    3. Social networks. Takes things outside of your regular email inbox and often works better for sharing items. As long as privacy isn’t the main concern, social network sites like Facebook, Twitter and Google+ can keep your inbox clutter down.

    What’s in your inbox?

    It’s time to think about email as it is: a method of communication that is faster than most other types we have available to us in today’s society. It’s not something that should keep us from doing the important work; it’s what should allow us to have the information we need to do more of the important work. It needs to be used accordingly, both by those on the sending and receiving end.

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    Mike Vardy

    A productivity specialist who shows you how to define your day, funnel your focus, and make every moment matter.

    Get What Matters Done by Scheduling Time Blocks What Everyone Is Wrong About Achieving Inbox Zero 4 Simple Steps to Brain Dump for a Smarter Brain Why Is Productivity Important? 10 Reasons to Become More Productive How to Use a Calendar to Create Time and Space

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    Last Updated on December 3, 2019

    10 Life Lessons You’d Better Learn Early on in Life

    10 Life Lessons You’d Better Learn Early on in Life

    There are so many lessons I wish I had learned while I was young enough to appreciate and apply them. The thing with wisdom, and often with life lessons in general, is that they’re learned in retrospect, long after we needed them. The good news is that other people can benefit from our experiences and the lessons we’ve learned.

    Here’re 10 important life lessons you should learn early on:

    1. Money Will Never Solve Your Real Problems

    Money is a tool; a commodity that buys you necessities and some nice “wants,” but it is not the panacea to your problems.

    There are a great many people who are living on very little, yet have wonderfully full and happy lives… and there are sadly a great many people are living on quite a lot, yet have terribly miserable lives.

    Money can buy a nice home, a great car, fabulous shoes, even a bit of security and some creature comforts, but it cannot fix a broken relationship, or cure loneliness, and the “happiness” it brings is only fleeting and not the kind that really and truly matters. Happiness is not for sale. If you’re expecting the “stuff” you can buy to “make it better,” you will never be happy.

    2. Pace Yourself

    Often when we’re young, just beginning our adult journey we feel as though we have to do everything at once. We need to decide everything, plan out our lives, experience everything, get to the top, find true love, figure out our life’s purpose, and do it all at the same time.

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    Slow down—don’t rush into things. Let your life unfold. Wait a bit to see where it takes you, and take time to weigh your options. Enjoy every bite of food, take time to look around you, let the other person finish their side of the conversation. Allow yourself time to think, to mull a bit.

    Taking action is critical. Working towards your goals and making plans for the future is commendable and often very useful, but rushing full-speed ahead towards anything is a one-way ticket to burnout and a good way to miss your life as it passes you by.

    3. You Can’t Please Everyone

    “I don’t know the secret to success, but the secret to failure is trying to please everyone” – Bill Cosby.

    You don’t need everyone to agree with you or even like you. It’s human nature to want to belong, to be liked, respected and valued, but not at the expense of your integrity and happiness. Other people cannot give you the validation you seek. That has to come from inside.

    Speak up, stick to your guns, assert yourself when you need to, demand respect, stay true to your values.

    4. Your Health Is Your Most Valuable Asset

    Health is an invaluable treasure—always appreciate, nurture, and protect it. Good health is often wasted on the young before they have a chance to appreciate it for what it’s worth.

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    We tend to take our good health for granted, because it’s just there. We don’t have to worry about it, so we don’t really pay attention to it… until we have to.

    Heart disease, bone density, stroke, many cancers—the list of many largely preventable diseases is long, so take care of your health now, or you’ll regret it later on.

    5. You Don’t Always Get What You Want

    “Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.” – John Lennon

    No matter how carefully you plan and how hard you work, sometimes things just don’t work out the way you want them to… and that’s okay.

    We have all of these expectations; predetermined visions of what our “ideal” life will look like, but all too often, that’s not the reality of the life we end up with. Sometimes our dreams fail and sometimes we just change our minds mid-course. Sometimes we have to flop to find the right course and sometimes we just have to try a few things before we find the right direction.

    6. It’s Not All About You

    You are not the epicenter of the universe. It’s very difficult to view the world from a perspective outside of your own, since we are always so focused on what’s happening in our own lives. What do I have to do today? What will this mean for me, for my career, for my life? What do I want?

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    It’s normal to be intensely aware of everything that’s going on in your own life, but you need to pay as much attention to what’s happening around you, and how things affect other people in the world as you do to your own life. It helps to keep things in perspective.

    7. There’s No Shame in Not Knowing

    No one has it all figured out. Nobody has all the answers. There’s no shame in saying “I don’t know.” Pretending to be perfect doesn’t make you perfect. It just makes you neurotic to keep up the pretense of manufactured perfection.

    We have this idea that there is some kind of stigma or shame in admitting our limitations or uncertainly, but we can’t possibly know everything. We all make mistakes and mess up occasionally. We learn as we go, that’s life.

    Besides—nobody likes a know-it-all. A little vulnerability makes you human and oh so much more relatable.

    8. Love Is More Than a Feeling; It’s a Choice

    That burst of initial exhilaration, pulse quickening love and passion does not last long. But that doesn’t mean long-lasting love is not possible.

    Love is not just a feeling; it’s a choice that you make every day. We have to choose to let annoyances pass, to forgive, to be kind, to respect, to support, to be faithful.

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    Relationships take work. Sometimes it’s easy and sometimes it’s incredibly hard. It is up to us to choose how we want to act, think and speak in a relationship.

    9. Perspective Is a Beautiful Thing

    Typically, when we’re worried or upset, it’s because we’ve lost perspective. Everything that is happening in our lives seems so big, so important, so do or die, but in the grand picture, this single hiccup often means next to nothing.

    The fight we’re having, the job we didn’t get, the real or imagined slight, the unexpected need to shift course, the thing we wanted, but didn’t get. Most of it won’t matter 20, 30, 40 years from now. It’s hard to see long term when all you know is short term, but unless it’s life-threatening, let it go, and move on.

    10. Don’t Take Anything for Granted

    We often don’t appreciate what we have until it’s gone: that includes your health, your family and friends, your job, the money you have or think you will have tomorrow.

    When you’re young, it seems that your parents will always be there, but they won’t. You think you have plenty of time to get back in touch with your old friends or spend time with new ones, but you don’t. You have the money to spend, or you think you’ll have it next month, but you might not.

    Nothing in your life is not guaranteed to be there tomorrow, including those you love.

    This is a hard life lesson to learn, but it may be the most important of all: Life can change in an instant. Make sure you appreciate what you have, while you still have it.

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    Featured photo credit: Ben Eaton via unsplash.com

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