You’ve Got Mail Goals
So this past weekend I indulged in watching one of my favorite movies. “You’ve Got Mail” with Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks. It’s one of those first movies I remember seeing as a tween and saying - I love this movie, not “that was fun” or “xenon is so cool”. I even remember when I saw it (don’t worry, this story is relevant). I was meh—12 years old at the time, and remember AOL was an APP, otherwise the internet was kind of boring, kind of bleak and useless. Around sixth grade time most of us had access to AOL for a few hours a day after school, and we would instant message - AOL instant message. I was telling my friend Christie from a few houses down that I had just gotten a new Gap sweater and matching scarf (I know, I know but it was like 1998 ok?) and she said, oh that’s so fun - we were chatting and she was like come with us to the movies. For a sixth grader, an unplanned movie trip on potentially a school night (not sure) was like being offered chocolate cake for breakfast. I went directly to my mom and asked if I could go, with a sort of “puppy face” that doesn’t really work as a 12 year old, but you are too “tween-ager” to realize that you are no longer cute in that way.
Fast forward a few years later, and the movie was one I still watched almost yearly. I started to notice things like what they were wearing, how the set was designed, and little things that a 12 year old truly misses. These are the things that kept me coming back.
Later on, this ritual became something more than just a fun rewatch of a movie that was fun to sit back and watch, with each play of the movie, the technology world had changed, and over time, I probably watched it in ways I couldn’t imagine when it first came out. From movie theater, to VHS to live TV, to DVD to OnDemand, to iTunes, to amazon to who knows that’s next. And as each passing year came, so did our connection and yet also change in relationship with the core of the film. With this sense of a wonderful romantic movie about the changing nature of small businesses and large corporations, came this even more poignant message that probably was never meant to come about. This “new technology” that brought the characters together has lost even it’s sense of new, but become tired and annoying. Today we don’t get excited for an email, we dread finding the time to respond. To think of the kind of letters that were sent in this movie, seem almost ridiculous. So much lately emails between friends start with “Hey, how have you been” and meld into six questions, and something you might want them to participate in - whether a social event or a work event or a something similar, and then at the end we say “Let’s catch up” —> umm just write a nice letter?
We use the medium of email so much these days for quick messages, business lists of to-dos, marketing and such that not only have we lost the sense of connection through good old snail mail, but through the medium we created to replace it.
What are we to do about this? Especially speaking for those who work from their home laptops, or keep our work email on our phones and personal computers, do we ever think about getting excited to receive an email?
Honestly, I hear “ding” so much that I turned notifications off. I heard “add a to-do to your list today” instead of “someone wants to work with you” and “People are interested in what I think”. So I am taking a break from the “ding” of the “you’ve got mail”, and re-adjusting my inbox, my mind and my mentality towards email in order to bring back a little more of that “zing” of happiness when we hear that notification go off. “You’ve got mail”.
How am I doing this?
- I turned off notifications.
- I turned ON an auto reply during the day to let people know what my office hours are, and links to a few places to FAQs, Scheduling meetings and any important date info (I will add in holiday things - like this coming columbus day).
- I hired someone (well two people) to take care of my other inbox. I have four business inboxes by the way. This allowing me to only check 3 and soon just 2 and one of those being a sub-email to the main inbox.
- I filtered my inbox. LIKE a TON. All newsletters get filters. All clients get filtered, all lead forms, anything with an even moderate pattern gets filtered to a folder in gmail. They still are unread, and I can go in and check on them periodically, but they don’t get mixed up in a list of to-dos. I get my work done, then tackle lead forms. Then I jump into asana notifications, then I jump into client emails - or whatever order of that needs to be done that day.
- I turned off my personal email. Yup. I don’t keep it open. While I am at work, I am at work. While I am “off hours” I still keep it off. I check it on my phone, set up more filters when needed - but in general I let that little DING go off a few times a day, and usually it’s just spam anyway. It doesn’t become a hassle because I don’t let it.
- Lastly, I try to remember what getting a nice, and informative and cohesive email was like (so few of them these days) and I infuse that within my letters sent. I write them like I would a real letter, a hello - an intro- more information- a conclusion and a heartfelt thank you and goodbye. The more we share our time and our energy writing nice emails, the more this might catch on ;)
So if email has you down, try one or all of these things to help you see a bit more light and bright in your day when you open your inbox. I can say that the ones here on this list I’ve been doing for 6-9 months has transformed my business and my outlook on my own business, and the others, while either new or within a month old have made an effective and positive change on my life (and that is seriously saying something!).