The folks over at the Reply All podcast had a brilliant idea: they have declared April 30th "Email Debt Forgiveness Day." This is a chance to catch up on those emails you've meant to send or are anxiously avoiding. Holy crap, is this ever my holiday. What emails should you write?
Email Debt Forgiveness day is a great idea. Here's the essentials:
If there's an email response you've wanted to send but been too anxious to send, you can send it on April 30th, without any apologies or explanations for all the time that has lapsed.
It doesn't matter how long it's been. Just include a link to this explainer, the one you're reading right now, so that your recipient knows what's going on.
Many of us probably have an email or two or ten we should be sending. These days, I don't use email much for personal communications — it's mostly all business. But I have some friends and contacts who hate social media, and I've intended to catch up with them for a while. A very long while.
It's easy to forget, to delay, to decide it takes too long to sit down and write down whole sentences of thought in our multi-platform, hyper-distracted culture. But Email Debt Forgiveness day is an awesome motivation and reminder to make the time to compose and actually click "send." I'm equally guilty of creating drafts and never getting around to finishing the thing — or wanting the email to be so all-encompassing and awesome after so much time out of contact with people that it becomes even more of an onerous task and thus one that is avoided.
However, these emails don't have to be "perfect." In the same way that it's cool to receive an actual letter in the mail, personal emails (for me) have a quaint feel, and are more prized than receiving a Facebook message or DM on Twitter. Even a few lines to say hey feels like more time and attention was given to the task. As I write this now, I'm getting excited to reach out to college friends, family and others who have stayed away from social networks.
Of course, the "email debts" you owe may be more business-y in nature. I certainly have an overflowing work inbox, a lot of messages starred with the good intention to revisit them and reply later. Today is a good day to email. I think that 9/10 times people will be thrilled to hear from you, even if it's been a long time or a reply languished past a polite point. There's not going to be a better time than now.
If you end up sending messages today or receive a debt owed to you, the Reply All folks want to hear from you. You could end up being featured on the show. But before you get to typing, tell us in the comments what emails you've avoided replying to — or who this prompt made you think to reach out to. I'll be over here finally finishing my email "assignment" to my favourite retired professor. Some habits never change.
h/t Sarah Zhang
Image via Wikimedia Commons