On a fairly frequent basis I’ve had to suggest to my 3 youngest sons that they check their email as I had just sent them something important (or funny). Being completely text-based, email just isn’t a priority for them. While I too am a texter, these are (if anything) short, temporary flashes of information not meant to live past the moment.
I’ve often thought of sending an email indicating that the first to respond within 24 hours will earn $100. I haven’t done so, as I think this would be a waste of my time 🙂
Could an email message be worth $200? Why, yes it could. Here is an example.
In December we sold the car of one of our sons, to a young man from “away.” During the last stage of negotiation he tried to get me to drop the price by another $200. I held firm, he took the car. As he drove off my son said “Dad, did you let him know about the windows not working properly and that they come down when on the highway?” I felt terrible, as he had test driven the car in our neighborhood (low-speed) and on a cold winter day (when he wouldn’t have tried taking the windows down).
His contact with me via craigslist had been through email. So, I sent him a message to let him know that I’d be happy to send him the $200 because I had totally spaced the malfunctioning windows, asking him to confirm the address to send the check to. We received his response several days ago, as follows:
“Sorry for taking so long to respond to your message, I haven’t opened my email in over 6 months. I would greatly appreciate the check as I had to have both the windows fixed anyway for it to pass inspection. The total was around $200. Thank you for your honesty and again, I apologize for the delay.”
Although I had completely written him off months ago, I sent him a check.
I’ve heard adults say similar things. How can this be?!? If we have an email address, how can we, in all good conscience, not open our email for a period any longer than 1-2 days?
Saying that I haven’t opened my email in 3 (or more) days is like saying I haven’t gone to my US Postal mailbox in 3 (or more) days.
Increasingly email is replacing paper mail (as it should)! We are burning through the forests of our planet to create paper when (I’d suggest) over 90% of this waste can be handled electronically. Whether we like it or not (and I love it!), email is increasingly becoming the method that firms we do business with want to communicate with us. This includes our school, bank, employer, insurance company, electric company, etc.
Given that fact, it is important to check our e-mailbox daily, or at least every couple of days.
I know, I know…Some may say: “Each time I go to my email box it is full of spam (junk mail).” Or, “There are so many emails in there I just don’t have the time.”
What if there is a message from an institution you do business with or containing some important information being shared by a family member or friend (for which Facebook is inappropriate)? Ignorance of the message is no excuse for “missing it” (a bill, late notice, important date or event, etc.).
There are some very simple methods to manage an email inbox so that it isn’t full of clutter. Here are steps I’ve found effective:
- Use Gmail (it is free and doesn’t need to change each time we switch Internet Service Providers): Any junk mail received is automatically filtered into its own (Spam) folder. I don’t have to do a thing. On occasion I’ll check the junk folder to see if anything was incorrectly flagged, and have never found a problem (in years). Other email clients have similar functions. And, if they don’t, or don’t work effectively — then we can switch!
- Use the same time management method as handling paper mail. That is, touch it once and only once. Upon opening a message there are 3 simple options: 1) Respond / handle immediately and/or, 2) Delete it, or 3) File it (in a folder separate from the inbox) for future reference. To support this we might have folders for personal, finance, job/career/business, church, etc.
If you were to view my inbox you would seldom see more than 4-5 emails. Anything more than this and I know I’m not handling something that is awaiting my attention.
A guideline to consider would be: if there are more emails in the inbox than can be displayed on the first screen then cleanup is required. The question to ask ourselves is: How many times do I want to chew my cud (that is, repeatedly review a continuously growing inbox looking for items to be handled)? I HATE wasting time 🙂
In closing, it is extremely beneficial to treat our email inbox with MORE diligence than our paper mail box. And, to contribute to the “green” cause, we can increasingly go paperless by requesting that firms we do business with send us correspondence via email and stop sending paper!