I have reached a personal communication crisis. Too many channels. Too many messages. Too much noise. Too much guilt.
My Twitter exchange with Jeffrey Zeldman this morning pushed me over the edge. Jeffrey sent me direct message on Twitter which I tried to reply to for hours on wednesday constantly getting an error message. I eventually sent a public reply and also an email the next morning. Today I find out that nothing reached him. Oh you modern world! (No, I didn’t have his phone number, otherwise I would have also sent him a text or imagine this, called him!)
What’s the problem?
I am inundated with messages! (And I am sure I am not alone, my case might be just a little bit more extreme!)
I get a ton of email. To the point where email has become my primary source of guilt.
The world also sends me tweets, direct messages, texts, chats with me on skype, sends me Facebook emails (!) and actual mail and also calls me. I am just waiting for messenger pigeons to show up on my window sill in my studio. Responding on all these channels is a full time job, extremely distracting and exhausting. I feel constantly behind. And guilty. In fact, GUILT is the word that comes to mind when I think about my state of communication. And I don’t like that. Not one bit. Life is too short too feel guilty.
Beyond just feeling overwhelmed and wanting to change the way I communicate I am also wondering about etiquette. What are the appropriate channels on how to approach someone? I had one of my readers call me yesterday morning at 7am asking me to edit one of his comments. I am sure he sent an email to my ‘submissions’ email address that I didn’t get to yet, so he felt entitled to call me.
While this is a bit extreme, I still wonder when is it ok to call someone? When do you DM someone vs emailing? When is appropriate to send chat messages?
I know that I need to drastically simplify how I communicate. Less channels. More focus. The question is how? Which channels do I cut off? Do we maybe invent an entirely new channel that combines all of the existing? Or do we need to redefine the rules around communicating? (e.g. When inquiry is strictly business, stick to email. When you’re friends with someone, you can DM them. etc)
My question to you: Have you taken drastic measures in the way you communicate? Do you have personal rules in terms of what channels you use for what purpose? Do you have a vision for how we can simplify the way we communicate?
I will try to convince my studiomates to talk about this topic today over lunch. We have quite some visionary spirits in our space and I hope I’ll be coming back with some good ideas. I’ll make sure to follow up this post… But until then, I’d *love* to hear your thoughts on this topic.
UPDATE: The99Percent posted a reaction to this post. Amazingly insightful!