A few thoughts on Email.

Few people manage to work without using email. It’s annoyingly irreplaceable for most of us and I don’t think that’s going to change any time soon.

Even most modern day apps, still prefer us to reset our attempts at cryptic passwords using email. This is one of the reasons why email isn’t going any where, but by far not the only reason it’s important to us.

I’m talking about an email from a real person, a real email if you will. 
And you’re waiting for it. We’ve all been there.

Everybody I know has at some stage or another, been waiting for an email. Not a newsletter or something they’ve subscribed to. Although I’m sure some marketing spammer would insist that these types of emails are as eagerly anticipated and important. They are not. Waiting for real email can suck, big time.

This response purgatory can sometimes lead our minds on wild meandering paths. Imagining all sorts of scenarios where the recipient of our email has suddenly realised they can just use our idea without us, or hire that competitor, or they’ve simply found that embarrassing Facebook photo from 2009 with you displaying your manhood and affection for Jose Cuervo in equal measure. Everybody has their own dread scenarios, but I think you get the idea.

To be clear, we’re not talking about that unsolicited email to some high flying celebrity or business owner who doesn’t know who you are, stop waiting for a reply to that one. What I’m mulling over here is the scenario when you’ve already been in contact in real life or online and a reply was expected or needed.

This sort of stress and worrying has hit me before, especially being a co-founder of a small business and predictably, in most cases, it’s proved to be a complete waste of time. More often than not, the reply I was so urgently waiting for, simply wasn’t as important to the other person as it was to me or they had a perfectly good reason for being pre-occupied with life or work etc... Family, significant others, pets & hospitals all come to mind and man-flu is a real thing as well, but it got me thinking. I probably didn’t notice when the shoe was on the other foot.

I’m sorry Joshua, Sandile & Jacques.

These 3 names have varying levels of importance to me, some personal and some work; and all completely separate from each other. Regardless, at some stage, I have failed to reply to each of them adequately before crossing the awkward line. That’s the strangely precise moment when you realise it’s been too long to answer now without an explanation and the plastic sorry ruins the intent of the original email.

“Hi Joshua,
Sorry for the late reply, things have been hectic.
Waffle, waffle, waffle and then we’ll ensure waffle.

Chat soon,
Matt”

This doesn’t quite cut it anymore. Even more pathetic than that, is the pseudo reply or manager’s email. This is the generic, “Thanks for your message, I’ll attend to this urgently as soon as I can.” I like to think of these emails as non-answers which achieve little else besides putting your conscience at temporary ease, although I’m sure they go a little way in removing some of the anxiety that can be felt while waiting for an important reply.


So what?

I’ve scheduled a 30 minute daily slot in my personal calendar, either early in the am with my coffee or late in the evening with my dessert, depending on my day, so that I can concentrate on not letting any ‘unimportant’ emails languish unnecessarily. I’ll probably slip up again, most of us will, but if I do, I’m going to reply as soon as I realise the gaff with an honest email addressing the original email’s intent and not simply saying I’ll get to it or pretending it never happened. Hopefully the people I occasionally have to wait on will return the favour.

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