QOTD: Joshua Brown On Email

Email is totally out of control and needs to be made illegal effective immediately. It is the worst thing that’s ever happened to humanity. Unless you consider the alternative – phone calls – which I view as an act of violence. “Why is he calling me? What emergency necessitated his dialing my number and waiting for it to ring, what utter atrocity required the disruptively instantaneous back-and-forth of a voice conversation?” But I digress…

Here’s the thing you have to know about emails in 2012: It’s okay to ignore them. Even the ones from people you know. I started doing that this fall and you know what’s gone wrong? Nothing. No lost friendships, no hard feelings, no missed business opportunities, no miscommunications. It’s all good. So which emails do you respond to and which do you ignore? Simple! When you see an email, ask yourself “is ignoring this going to keep me up at night and make me feel as though I’ve been careless or sloppy or cruel?”  If the answer is yes, then deal with the email! If not, ignore it. It’s okay, if the person sending it knows you, then they’ll accept that you’re busy or think maybe you never got it (the spam folder ate my homework). This frees you up to respond to clients, vendors, business partners and close friends and acquaintances with whom you’re actively dialoging or making plans.

So don’t make all these dumbass folders and files you’re never going to use, just start blowing emails off as they come in. A wise man once said that your inbox is like a To Do list that someone else makes for you. To which I say, no thanks. I make my own To Do list, the needs and wants and tasks of others come after the tasks that are important to my clients and my practice.

As for what should replace the email, I vote for the Twitter direct message. No one will DM you annoying or wasteful communiques if you’re following each other on Twitter. PR people can be blocked, never mind any “safe unsubscribe” email spam ritual – you can get rid of a PR sea-creature whom you’ve accidentally followed forever with a Twitter unfollow.  As soon as they start allowing attachments on Twitter and slightly longer messaging, I’m going to start replacing as many email convo’s as possible with it.

Joshua M. Brown

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