A couple of years ago I sat down with Jasmine Star and she expressed this burden she felt because of how many emails she was getting. She said she was running out of time in her life and was spending most of it emailing people and she didn't know how to deal with it.
I told her that I knew a solution!
JUST DON'T RESPOND! :)
She gasped. "Noooooo, I have to."
The conversation continued and we found a solution that was acceptable to her using auto-responders. I used to use auto-responders a lot and some of you may have remembered my brilliantly crafted one...
But my question is ... when someone calls or emails do you feel that you must respond or you're being rude? Do you feel that email is taking up more of your life then you want? Do you feel like you are being owned by it and being owned by others expectations of you? Other people will try and control your life and there is a very good chance that their vision for your life isn't the same as yours and probably isn't the same as God's!
So keep yourself and your priorities in check. If your purpose in life isn't being served by the amount of time you're spending emailing then cut it down. Take control.
I have a challenge for you... let all your email pile up for one day and then delete it...all of it. :) Then try it for one week... This will tell you who's in control. You or Your Inbox.
Read this reflection from Minute of Margin...it's good and it applies.
TECHNOLOGY AND ACCESSIBILITY OVERLOAD
I am dying of easy accessibility. Telephones in our homes and offices, cordless phones in our backyards and cars, beepers, fax machines, and e-mail. It’s enough to give you a stroke. If Alexander Graham Bell walked into my office, I’d punch him in the nose. If be called, you can be sure I’d put him on hold. - JAMES M. CERLETTY, M.D., MILWAUKEE PHYSICIAN
THE FUTURE ARRIVED yesterday, when the Starship Enterprise landed in our back yard. Slick gadgets are strapped to every belt, plugged into every socket, and stuck in every ear. Overhead, still more gadgets swim in the heavenlies. As telecommunications rapidly reshape the globe, we sit at the beginning of a universal connectivity unprecedented in human history. Cell phones and pagers, videophones and videoconferencing, telecommuting and fax machines, Internet and e-mail, satellites and the information superhighway. Images of futuristic excitement, to be sure. But what will be the result of this incredible flurry of seemingly unstoppable activity?
Like most modern things, it will be both good and bad—at the same time. The aspect of this development that disturbs me most is accessibility overload. A major unintended consequence of the flood of accessing technologies is that soon there will be no natural excuse for being unavailable. In the midst of our enthusiasm for the telecommunications revolution, we have not sufficiently discerned the horrifying psychic cost of what columnist William Safire calls unrestrained reachability. Don’t get me wrong. I like people. Some of my best friends are people. But I also like my privacy from time to time. “Where were you all day?” your boss or client or bridge partner will say. “I tried to call you five times!” And because virtually everyone will carry tiny cell phones/pagers, you will have no excuse. “I turned off my pager phone.” “You what?!” What will this be like for exhausted pastors who are vacationing five states away and one of their parishioners is hospitalized ? Do we disturb them? Most of us wouldn’t—but some would. What if parishioners die? Do we interrupt pastors’ much-needed vacations by requesting they return for the funeral? When speaking in Toronto recently I found two pastors who had encountered this situation in the previous year. One returned home to do the funeral; the other didn’t. The first disappointed his family and lost an important vacation. The second disappointed his church family and lost an important ministry opportunity.
RX - Because of progress and technology, universal accessibility is inevitable. Etiquette guidelines will not always be easy to apply. Yet somehow, unrestrained reachability must be controlled for the sake of our margin, our family, our devotion, our sanity, and our rest. Be discerning of all accessing technologies, Use them judiciously. Consider deactivating the answering machine if necessary. If you find it overwhelming to come home to eight messages, turn it off. If the calls are important, the callers will try again.
You must keep quiet or say only things that improve silence. - GREEK PROVERB
"The power of hiding ourselves from one another is mercifully given, for men are wild beasts, and would devour one another but for this protection." -Beecher
I'm sure you're familiar with this quote ;-)
So good, Deej. I needed this one. Just this week I got a couple emails from people I don't know who were annoyed with me for not writing them back yet. I don't know them, they asked me some questions (not related to business), I've not had the time to respond yet, and they're mad at me... I don't get it.
This was a good one for me to read :)
Now I'm even more confused. Just this week I've been thinking that I need to have more customer contact with my clients to be better in my business. I like the idea of forgoing email, but don't have time for face to face all the time, and don't enjoy phone communicating. One thing I've considered is writing out a bunch of email templates that answer frequently asked questions, or are typical subjects that I often write to clients about. Having some templates in place would save me a load of time, and work great with a few minor personalization tweaks. How do you keep things personalized yet streamline at the same time?
Hey DJ, I think I remember seeing an engagement session on your blog a year or two ago where it was at night and it started raining.... I tried to find it again but there's no picuters attached anymore... is there anywhere they can be viewed? I was interested in doing a night shoot and remembered your photos... needless to say I would love to see them if possible.... please let me know!
Ok, I know that was completely unrelated to this post but just thought I would ask...
@Jalene - If you youtube search "David Jay" it's like the fifth one down ;)
Here's the direct link...
@Bobby - YOU ROCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thank you so much that's exactly what I was looking for! :)
so with the multiple successful business you run you're saying its a good idea to simply ignore emails--interesting.
Brooke - great idea - and if you use a mac use the email "signature" feature to have them ready and that can help speed up those replies.
Rnormfoto - nope. I didn't say that. You need to reread what I wrote and think about it some more. Good luck.
yes....i am a slave. thanks for the tip.
I'm confused, I read it the same way Rnormfoto did. Seems like you are advocating that people simply delete a full day's worth of e-mails. I can't imagine how ignoring clients is a smart business move.. Perhaps you could further explain what exactly you're suggesting people do?
thank you Stacy - I thought I was losing my mind----
I didn't say anything about ignoring clients in my entire post... My post was about life...
Who is in control of your life? To be honest it sounds like your clients are? Maybe something to think about....
I think the confusion from people here is that yes, you said to delete a day worth of emails-- but just before that you said, "if your purpose in life is not being served."
I think for many of us, our current purpose(if not only part of it) is to run our business and serve others that way, and so it could easily be misinterpreted that you are telling everyone to delete emails from current clients and prospective clients alike.
While I don't think that deleting a day's worth of emails would be the best thing to do for everyone, I do see the message here, and I think it's simply this: SIMPLIFY.
Something little that I've done, is started not answering my emails on the weekends (unless I happen to be in front of my computer). I realized that people shouldn't expect me to respond on the weekends. It is a very freeing thing. I find that when I come back to my desk on Monday, I really didn't miss anything.
Ginger :) Yup! You got it...I'm glad you read it.
It's funny how people pick out a line and then make up their own meaning instead of reading all of what I wrote.
Life and business are about focusing and prioritizing. If anything (especially others expectations of us) are keeping us from fulfilling our purpose in life then we need to put that thing in check before it takes over.
Interesting timing on this post! This past week I wrote Jasmine an email, and she wrote me back the sweetest, most gracious email. I was not expecting it at all, and the fact that she took the time was incredible to me. I so appreciated her gesture, and while I don't judge any busy person for NOT responding, I was blessed that she did.
It's kinda like religion and politics. People interpret words as they see them. Even though I did read your whole post I agree with rnormphoto, if you are receiving that much email are you running your business as efficiantly as you should be? Are you spending to much time on removing junk? Etc. Your purpose in life should have alot more to do with emails, and if emails are ruining your purpose than maybes your pupose should be adjusted.
Paul - I hope I'm reading your post incorrectly....did you really say that my purpose in life should have a lot more to do with emails? :) and my purpose should be adjusted.
It's funny because in my post I even said how "other people will try and control your life..." by saying things like you're saying now and telling me what to value and what my purpose should be. I think it stems from a huge entitlement mentality that some people have.
No, I am not saying that your purpose should be email, furthermore I am not trying to control your life. I am debating what your saying in a more philosophical approach.
If your purpose in life is being hurt by emails, maybe the emails have to adjusted but also maybe your(not you specifically) purpose needs to be adjusted.
I just don't think deleting your emails will help your purpose, it might even hurt it.
You could hire someone to go through your emails for you. That way you wouldn't accidentally delete an email that says, "DJ, we will buy your ShowIt company for 3 billion dollars."
I had to comment on Ginger's response with a LOL!!! in a funny way not a "I told you so way" it's really funny :)
For only 3 billion we probably wouldn't bother responding anyway...lol...just kidding. :)
I read almost all of my emails but if something important comes up then people will usually try other forms of communication. :)
Delegating emails doesn't really work b/c then then I would have to spend time training and managing...not to mention the increased payroll expenses. Payroll is the biggest expense of most businesss and ours is over $60k/month so I'm definitely not gonna add to that simply because people flood me with emails.
Again...the problem I'm having is with people feeling the need to "catch" everything and what happens with a scalable technology is that so much stuff (relevant and irrelevant) can be thrown at you that if you're bound to reach a point where you can't catch it all and if you're not in control of it then other people are controlling it - you.
"One is too small of a number to achieve greatness."
If that sounds familiar it's because I was actually looking through my F2S tour booklet last night.
Worst case, you could always have an intern. They're pretty cheap these days.
I'm just giving you a hard time.;)
I know what you're saying (as I mentioned in my 1st post).
...how about 4 billion...? :)
Actually in the book "Four Hour Work Week" by Timothy Ferriss it kinda talks about outsourcing... it's a fascinating point of view on how to run your office's simpler tasks such as checking e-mails and having an assistant with your schedule send you updates through-out the day plus it's cost effective, if you have the funds. I encourage you (people reading the post) to check it out. DJ mentioned the book also in his F2S Tour…
But I agree with DJ, if we can change our perspective on the unspoken rules of business etiquette then maybe we won’t be chained to our desk “having” to respond to hundreds of e-mails a day! Why let e-mails run your life when you could be out doing the things you love to do instead; having freedom in your life!
I’ve taken a similar approach to Ginger’s in that I don’t check my e-mail on the weekends… it allows me time to rest and relax and live my life and not feel obligated to be behind a computer 24/7. DJ’s comment though on deleting your whole inbox at the end of one day was an exercise to help you realize life moves on past e-mails… if you don’t respond to every e-mail your life still goes on. I feel too often other people’s opinions of how you should run your life take too big of an influence on us. Just because one person feels you should respond to every e-mail doesn’t mean you have to…. Jasmine Star does FAQ posts for her readers that write her e-mails because it’s more time efficient and allows other readers that may have the same question gleam from her response. She even makes note that she doesn’t have the luxury of time to respond to every e-mail she receives so that’s why she does a FAQ post. Even the best time management courses and books make the same remarks. Instead of letting your business run you take charge and run it yourself! Have auto response e-mails set in place or a disclaimer on your site or templates but chose today what’s more important to you… take the time to evaluate our lives, pick the fights that are important and let the other’s wait. Don’t allow your time to be robbed instead live a life of peace and freedom where you are in charge!
Amen, amen, and amen! People think my husband and i are MAD CRAZY since we got rid of our cell phones. Like, what happens if there's an emergency?? Well, we'll do things the old fashioned way, and flag somebody down - lucky for us that person will MOST likely have a cell phone. Simplify - Psalm 46:10
"Be still, and know that I am God."
BE STILL? Aaaaaahhh. What would happen to this world if we were all . . . just. . . still. Likely we'd all be free of prescription meds....and cell phones :]
Great post! By the way, I'm not expecting a response. ; ]
A Big Fan
Brilliant Heather! I love that! Great verse too! Isn't stillness wonderful!
Yea Jalene - Four Hour Work Week gives some good ideas on how to keep email from overwhelming us by outsourcing certain tasks and also batching it at certain times of the day.
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