It’s time we had a serious chat about email

Many years ago in a business meeting, my boss at the time said, “We always want to under-promise and over-deliver – never the other way around.”

Talk about hashtag #nailedit! This little nugget of wisdom has become a rule I live by, both at work and at home. I love it.

But a recent email I received made me think that perhaps it’s time for us all to have a bit of an acknowledgement – to reach a mea culpa, if you will – over just how bad things have become with email.


Because we are doing it so wrong, you guys.

Email was meant to make our lives easier. But in between the endless spam, the tedious email chains you don’t really need to be involved in, and the constant misinterpretation of tone, it’s turned into a bitter minefield that makes your morning work routine more exhausting than ever.

My solution? Firstly: we need to story apologising. “Sorry for the delayed response!” “Excuse my tardy reply!” We ping pong back and forth, filling endless internet voids with meaningless apologies for things we don’t genuinely need to be sorry about.

We are all busy. We are all doing our best. Let’s just issue a collective, slightly sheepish “sorry, I deemed your email less important than the million other emails clogging my inbox”, and do away with the ongoing apologies, yeah?

Secondly: we need to chill out.

The email I was talking about earlier? It was an out of office message that read: “I am in meetings this afternoon. Please call my mobile if you need to reach me urgently, otherwise I will reply to your email as soon as possible.”

When did we start issuing OOO notices for attending a meeting?! Is this really how we want to live – endlessly tied to our devices, unable to even step away from your inbox for a couple of hours without issuing a notice?

A couple years back, I sent an email to a contact in Canada. His response has always stayed with me, as it represents the ideal path we should be taking towards managing our inboxes.

“Hi! Thanks for your email. I check my inbox on Tuesdays and Thursday between 10am and 2pm. If you need to reach me outside of these times and dates, please call me on XYZ. Have a great day!”