If you’ve got at least one email account, you’ve likely received jokes, humorous or even poignant stories from a friend or colleague accompanied by a call to action to forward it to 10 friends in 10 minutes.
These emails come from well-meaning people and they usually lighten your mood, but their timing is almost always off. You know what I mean. They come when you are really stressed to meet a deadline or when your to-do list has just grown to yet another page. Then as if that were not enough, the issue is complicated with the requirement to find 10 others within the allotted timeframe. Ever wondered what happened to those who only found 9 friends or missed the deadline? See below.
Seriously, when I’m home, I often enjoy the break from the routine and different perspectives that these anecdotes or pictures bring, but I don’t like the pressure that I must forward them or someone will think I don’t like them or miss a blessing from the Lord. That’s certainly not a fair assumption nor is it in any way accurate.
So from this point forward, be it hereto forward known: if you send me an email like those described above, know that if I don’t send it to you or 9 of my newest best friends, it has nothing to do with our relationship, past, present or future. I’ve enjoyed the message (or not) and have moved on. I may choose to share it, but I may be in a pinch and unable to do so.
There, I think this disclaimer should keep me safe from the ramifications pictured above. If not, you’ll know what to put on my tombstone.
Do you get annoyed when you try to figure out emailed or written instructions that aren’t clear? Or how about when you receive a message requiring action that begs more questions than it answers? If so, you’re not alone. The real question is, however, are you the one sending these messages?
In an article Ragan Communications posted today entitled Ditch these 5 business writing mistakes, Jenna Britton makes the point that these emails could be doing more than making your message difficult to understand. In fact, they could be punching holes in your credibility.
Clarity in professional writing can be a critical matter that has potential to make or break an organization – depending on the size of the organization and the level of importance of the document. Likely this is one reason so many messages are wordsmithed to death and reviewed by the legal department before they hit the cyber-waves. If you’re the fly in the email ointment, well, let’s not go there. You get the picture. Writing more than other forms of communication is taken more literally and can become a permanent record, so the import of saying it correctly also carries more weight.
Britton offers some valuable tips that may prove beneficial to your career. Try them as a checklist for your next email. Better to review your words one more time before you hit “Send,” lest you tarnish your record. It’s hard to take back the written word.
God does not send email, though in the busyness of our lives, wouldn’t it be helpful if He did? How great would that be for us? If, when we were tempted in thought or deed, the software’s application ding would alert us, “You’ve got mail.” The Lord could use the red exclamation point to indicate a really important message and highlight the main problem in the subject line so that we could read just that part if we were really pressed for time. The body of the email could contain pertinent details and a bulleted action plan for us to follow to avoid sin or accomplish some great work on His behalf.
How would we respond to His communications? Would we scan it to see which ones we really wanted to open? Would we read the subject line to determine whether or not we even wanted to bother opening it? Would we drag it into one of our files to read it later only to have later never come? Would we look at it and treat it like Spam? Would we become overwhelmed or discouraged?
Fortunately for us, the Lord does not send email. If He did, the application ding would be constant and deafening. The web networks would crash from overload and every email would be from Him with a red exclamation point preceding the subject line. The Lord is not interested in using our manmade technology to communicate with us. He’s created nature and inspired the Scriptures to tell us all that we need. And, He’s gone one step better. He’s given those who have accepted His free gift of salvation, the indwelling Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God , and He helps our weakness, for we do not know how to pray as we should. The Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groaning too deep for words. He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
No, God does not use email. He has a much more efficient tool. The question is, will we listen?
Do you get overwhelmed over the volume of email you get each day?
If you work in a business office, you’re bombarded throughout the day with electronic messages. Did you know that it takes an average of 2 minutes to open read and close an email? This means if you send and receive 50 emails per day – I realize this is likely a low estimate, you spend 100 minutes per day just on email. Let’s see, based on 260 days per year that works out to about 18 days you’re dedicating to email alone. All of this does not include any action or follow up the email may generate nor does it count texting or IM. You do your own math based on your volume.
Several years ago, I read the Hamster Revolution by Mike Song, Vicki Halsey and Tim Burress, which offered several strategies to reduce the time spent on dealing with email. They claim to save you 20% on your time. Their methods do work, though I never actually measured my results.
One of the ways they suggest to lessen the load is to use the ABC approach for messages you write:
Action Summary – one sentence specifying action, purpose or your key point
Background – body of message using bullet points and white space whenever you can
Close – niceties, next steps, and auto signature (this really saves you time).
You might identify with their hamster analogy if you expend a lot of energy handling messages while your real work piles up on the desk. Throw in frequent meetings, and you’re loading your brief case to take the work home. Not good. To establish more work/life balance, try different strategies to lighten the load.