MD Forman & Son Lance Forman is drowning in emails

PUBLISHED: 10:31 08 October 2014 | UPDATED: 10:31 08 October 2014


If you’re the type of person who jumps to conclusions, don’t bother reading what I have to say, just head to the last sentence.

The reason I say this is that we all do things far too quickly nowadays and need to slow down. It never pays to write a letter, send an email or tweet a tweet when, for example, you’re angry about something; best to wait till the morning, take a breath and see how you feel then. Delaying an action allows more time for new information which may affect that action to be processed, and as a result the ultimate decision is likely to be a better one.

Nowhere is this more pertinent than with emails. I returned from my summer holiday four weeks ago and have only just caught up on the emails. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I feel like I am drowning in them. And that’s because we all send far too many of them, most often, simply to bat them back so that a decision is no longer in our court. We are overloaded with information, too much is coming too quickly and the human brain does not have the capacity or speed of a computer to deal with this.

I have often thought that the information revolution of the 21st century is like the automotive revolution of the 20th century. At the turn of the last century, people got around by horse and coach. The average speed of transport was 11 mph, I believe. Cars came along and sped things up, but as the years went by, the roads clogged up, and now the average speed of road transport in central London is back to 11mph, the same as it was 100 years ago on horseback.

And so it will be with emails. When you don’t reply to one in three hours, the sender phones you asking “didn’t you get my email?”. Well I’m sure it won’t be long, before the average response rate will be three days, the speed of second class post. And this will be a good thing, because it will give us time to consider our response, rather than simply batting back. So my advice is, right now, set an auto-response on your email saying “Thanks for your email. Please do not expect a response for at least 48 hours.” Give it a try and see what reaction you get; together we could start a new revolution. If you think that the senders will think you’re a slow-coach, you’re wrong. Don’t jump to conclusions. More from Lance Forman

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