The Modern Professional’s Hamlet Dilemma: To Read or Not to Read

Open. Respond. Filter. Delete. Repeat.

Responding to the landslide of emails is a continuous process in our daily routine. Given the sheer volume of emails, one must learn to recognize which emails are worth opening and which are just spam. Jack Shepherd of BuzzFeed noticed this and further investigated this real life phenomenon in his article Is Email Turning Us All Into Spammers?

From evaluating 75 emails, Shepherd determined that 68 percent of messages were spam, 92 percent of which were coming from coworkers. After seeing these numbers, Shepherd posed three thoughts to his readers:

  1. Before even drafting a message, determine if the email will be relevant to your coworkers in the “To” line.
  2. Today the common habit is to continuously send/receive emails, rather than really dealing with their content.
  3. Having “email free days” in the workplace are not a bad idea.

As I sit here seeing the numbers in my inbox continuously increase in my peripheral vision, I continue to wonder about this modern day dilemma my co-workers and I face as modern PR professionals – a profession that relies heavily on exchanging emails.  And Shepherd’s three points, bring up three of my own:

  1. Just like the common saying of “think before you speak” in this modern day and age, it is also important to “think before you e-mail.”
  2. Our culture thrives on instant gratification. We check our emails right when our phone buzzes because we want to know right away what is going on. But at the same time, instantly checking swallows up a lot of time, sometimes resulting in procrastination of important work. Although, will we ever be able to break this habit when our smart phones are always at our sides?
  3. It’s a great thought to fully cut the cord from emails, but how practical or even possible is that in 2014?

Emails are an unavoidable part of our daily routine. Check, respond, filter, delete, and repeat. It’s a necessary evil. But where is the line between necessary evil and just plain evil? What are your thoughts on e-mail etiquette, volume and best practices? Leave them in the comments or Tweet us at @TrainerComms… and of course you can always email us.