As I write this, my email is down.
I use Google to manage my mail (because they’re…um…dependable…usually…), and when I logged in this morning I got a message that there was some sort of error with my email storage (!), and that they’re fixing it – but that it could take up to 48 hours before I can access it again.
Yikes, really? 48 hours?
My first reaction was concern mixed in with a teeny bit of panic: “Holy crap, that’s a long time! “What if I lose all my emails?” What if people are trying to reach me and I can’t respond?”
Then a different type of fear crept in
What will those people think? Will they be upset? Think that I’m some schmuck who doesn’t answer email? Will they LEAVE?
Then Rational Lisa stepped up to set me straight
“Seriously? That’s ridiculous”. Get over yourself. There’s nothing in there that is so important that it can’t wait.”
And she’s right. Email being down is not the end of the world, in any circumstance. Really. If someone needs to reach me that quickly they’ll pick up the phone.
Which leads to the question: Should we really respond to every email, and when is it ok not to?
We check email way too much, and in a society demanding instant gratification, we’ve become ridiculously impatient. I’m as guilty as you are.
We sleep with our smartphones by the bed and check email before we get up in the morning. We have auto-responders telling people where we are every second of the work day. And we feel guilty when we can’t answer every message in our inbox in a timely fashion (or at all).
Ironically, I was just reading this article the other day, where Jocelyn K. Glei talks about email guilt, and what we can do about it.
Seth Godin nailed it when he said. “It’s asymmetrical, and productivity loses to politeness.”
The tool that was designed to improve communication and make us more productive actually kills our productivity. Plain and simple.
So I’m going to take advantage of my forced email sabbatical and get some work done.
Oh by the way, if your inbox is out of control, get a handle on it with Email Triage.
Thoughts? What-if’s? Yeah-buts? I’d love to hear them. Share in the comments.