Wednesday, September 10, 2008

    Ban emails out of your life!

    Now don't get me wrong, I love emails. But e-mails are just too comfortable. How can something be too comfortable? They are fast to write, to modify, to send, to read, to organize and free. This causes two problems:

    1- They are so comfortable that more and more communications are done over e-mail. This means that people communicate in situations that they previously wouldn't.

    2- They fact that they are so simple and easy makes them lose value. Something that can so easily be created and replicated does not have much value.

    Communications can get seriously affected by this. How many times have you sent an e-mail asking for some important information or to resolve an important issue, and you never got response?It happens mostly when you need something from someone, lets say a business, a public office, or your university. So what do we do when we don't receive an answer the next day? Well, it was just one day, so we wait another day. After two days? We still wait because maybe the other didn't have time. Then the weekend comes and we expect the person to answer on Monday. Wrong again. So we send another email, feeling a little bad about insisting about what we need and start the waiting process again. We might think about it twice or trice before sending a third message, that would be pushing it! Wouldn't it?

    Weeks may pass before we finally get an answer, and when we get it, they only address half of the questions we asked!! What a frustrating experience! Since the email has not much value, people tend to ignore them, half-read them and quart-answer them. Since they can be answered at any time, they will often never be answered. The result is that we complain about the person that should have answered us, and blame him/her for the troubles we have because we didn't get some information or some issue wasn't solved. Well, that is dumb, because we are the root of the problem and we are are the ones to blame.

    For the ones of us that are prone to procrastinate, we tend to take a small step in the right direction to eliminate that bad feeling we have precisely because we know we are procrastinating our duties. That small step is often to send a stupid email just to feel that we did something. Subconsciously we reason that if after sending an email we don't receive answer, we can blame it on the other. Which is basically just deluding ourselves to temporarily feel better.

    What we can do to solve this may profoundly shock you: use the phone! We tend to use it only to chat to friends, but we should precisely use it to get the important tasks done. The phone is not only faster than emailing, but you have live feedback from the other person, so you can get precisely what you want and unless they are tremendously rude, they cant ignore you. In fact, since everybody emails, the phones are not so saturated as they used to be. Things that can take weeks through email take minutes with the phone. Why worry weeks if it can take minutes, why regularly check the email if you can get it done NOW?

    Just today I organized some issues with my university and a language school. They had me calling from here to there, but in a quarter of an hour I solved the thing. How much longer would it have taken if I surrendered to my initial resistance to call and to just do it the easy email way?

    If it is important, and you can do it by the phone, do so.

    At the end of the day it is a life attitude issue. When you try to get something done you can ask yourself if this step is the most effective way of doing it or if you are just trying 10% to feel good with yourself.

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