Sharing a blog post from Paul Levy, Not Running a Hospital –
“So, here’s my philosophy on email…..
….when you get 500+ notes a day, it is important to answer each one as you read it. If you hold it to think about, and then read it again, and then respond, you have doubled your intake folder and used up a lot of time. This is a fundamental rule of time management: Whether a paper or electronic letter, or a phone message, deal with it the first time you read/hear it. (Unless it is something that really requires a lot of research or thought.)
Also, email has now changed. Its past virtue was that it was asynchronous. No one expected you to reply right away. Now, everyone has a PDA, and there is an expectation that you will be in touch all the time and responsive immediately. If you don’t give an answer, the person sends you another note 15 minutes later, asking if you got the first one. Again, you have now doubled your inbox.
Unfortunately, this has now carried over into personal emails, too. If I didn’t answer relatively quickly, you would wonder if you offended me, or if I perceived you as unthoughtful, or whatever. So, I tend to reply quickly and concisely.
Finally, as friends, we have lots going on back and forth during the day. Just as would be the case if we were together, some responses during the course of the day would be short and some long.”
I’m sharing this because many of you will read this on the weekend, when time should be slowing down….yet you will take a peak at your work email, on your various Facebook pages, on your Twitter account – you will hear lots of chatter there – some important things, some not – some funny – some not. Events to note in your datebook, rsvp’s to give. You will see requests to “like me”, “friend me”, and “follow me”. You’ll want to even send some of those exact requests out yourself.
Your approach might be to click through them all, take a peak, sigh deeply, and then plan to go back – when you have more time. You might stop there, maybe for another cup of coffee, to answer your cell phone, or you will get a text message. Suddenly you’ll see that you are going to be late for a hair appointment or that the house hasn’t been picked up and you have company coming for dinner. And there’s laundry piling up…oh, excuse me…
(I’ll just throw a load in right now…)
OK – I’m back!!
In that time when I left, gathered the laundry, went downstairs, did the washer-dryer transfer, came up, filled up the next basket, and sat down again, there are more tweets, FB messages, emails, and I see two texts from my daughter, the second one saying – “Mom! Why aren’t you answering me? – What is for dinner tonight?”
The point here is rather a simple one. You might even be ‘an-tic-i-pat-ing’ what I’m going to tell you.
But let’s look at my daughter’s text demand for a moment. She texted. Tossed her phone aside. Waited 30 secs. Looked for a reply. She texted again – this time adding an exclamation point as if I could hear its demanding tone… What is her an-tic-i-pa-tion? Her expectation from me on the other end of her phone? It is for an answer. Not some time. Now. She wants an answer now. If I answer her immediately there is no problem. No agitation. No exclamation point following me around…. If I do not, then that exclamation point taunts me until I do answer, or until she is now “concerned” as to why I am not.
So – just for a moment, consider the “an-tic-i-pa-tion” on the other side of the email, text, tweet or post. Remember that for that ‘demanding’ person on the other end, time is moving slowly, just like that thick sauce coming out of the ketchup bottle. Or a tick-tock, tick-tock, tick!!
So – like a good efficiency expert would recommend how to deal with paper in your inbox, DEAL with that electronic pile-up. It is just like the paper on your desk, actually it is more demanding than that….because a real person is pulling on the other end of it.
Try to handle the email when you get it, when you open it; when a Twitter friend follows you, follow them back or not, but decide right then and there; check off those FB comments; and oh, yes, clean out your voice mails that have piled up from a week’s worth of “I’ll answer them later” phone calls. (P.S. – Call them back!)
We are way, way o-ver-communi-ca-ted…..but things aren’t going to change….set some good work habits – it’s a good new year’s resolution….and your recipients will love you for it. So –
Make your day easier – make the person’s an-tic-i-pa-tion surprisingly – they picked up that ketchup bottle, expecting to smack it, and smack it again, and it simply flowed….. Smiles….sing it, Carly!