As a self-employed marketer, I have lived and died by email for the past 10 years. It’s been at the center of my business and personal life for everything from sales to socializing. But over the past year or two, the daily flow of email has become totally unmanageable. Something had to be done. I took bold action. So why do I feel guilty?
My incoming email is down to a trickle since I added this autoresponder:
Dear colleagues & friends: I am checking email only a couple of times a day because I am totally overwhelmed with unnecessary emails.
So, if something is pressing, please call me.
If not, understand that I will be back to you in hours rather than minutes.
Notice that I did not include my phone number because it is easily available on my blog and my site and I don’t want junk phone calls either. But jeez, what if I never read that one email with the life-changing client inquiry?
I identified completely with John Gruber at Daring Fireball, joining the rising tide when he wrote about email bankruptcy:
“My habits and message filing strategies had more or less remained the same for the entire 15 years I’d been using email. My problem … is that I now receive far, far more email than I could possibly deal with using my long-established strategies and habits.”
Taking what he, Merlin Mann, James Duncan Davidson and others have recommended, here’s what I’ve done besides add the autoresponder: I created a system.
o I turned off the sound that signals incoming emails.
o I check it first thing in the morning.
o I respond, delete or file immediately and delete the rest, unread.
o I repeat this procedure only three or four more times a day instead of continually.
o Unsubscribing to publications has had no effect, so I junk the ones I don’t want.
o I ignore emails that don’t have a compelling subject line.
o I don’t go through the “junk” folder for things mistakenly caught there.
o i figure, if it’s important, it’ll come again. Or the person will call me.
And yet, I feel guilty. I feel rude. I wonder if some potential business has been lost because I sound un-accomodating.
And now that there’s less email, I keep thinking I’m going to miss something.
This picture could have been me until Monday:
This is me now:
(OK, so I have more than one email account, but my Gmail inbox is empty.) /em>