Experiment OVER: Shedding The Weight Of Email In Favor of Mobile Messaging

UPDATE, November 2013: I’ve ended this email-messaging experiment. It didn’t work. I failed. Many people followed the instructions to ping me on MessageMe or Facebook Messages, but most of those messages were really long and sometimes the strings were like 10+ to start. So, I’m just going back to email, but will try some other rules: (1) cold emails over 500 characters won’t be read or returned; (2) I will not consider investments via cold email, introduction preferred — required, really; and (3) I am going to try and do my part of sending less email to begin with, and also not respond as much. Let’s see how it goes, but I need to be on email less.

I have an idea about how I can cut down email. Now, I know…when people complain about email, it’s kind of an implicit humblebrag, but I want to put a spin on it. Right now, I am getting crushed by email. It’s hard because I want to reply to every honest and earnest message I’m sent. The reason is simple — karma. A lot of people answered my cold emails, met me without an agenda, and still do. And, I get a lot of cold emails or people coming out of the woodwork now. But, I can’t keep up. Thankfully, there are alternative routes now, and I think I may have come up with a solution. Please tell me what you think, this isn’t 100% set and I’m looking for feedback, tips, and honest reactions so I can refine this.

  1. For anyone I work for, or work with, or am very close to (professionally, family, etc.), I will answer those emails, always.
  2. When I send emails, I try to make the first one only one tight paragraph; I only write longer emails when I’m asked to or in a work setting. (I’ve met some people who don’t even reply to work emails, and to them, wow — I tip my hat. Not sure how to get around those!)
  3. Aside from introduction emails, I’m going to begin initiating messages with people through mobile messaging systems, such as text/SMS (I’m on iMessage), Kik, FB Messenger, Whatsapp, Twitter DM, or MessageMe (see picture above – I don’t really use Path and SnapChat, so those aren’t good channels for me). If I don’t get a response, I move on. I am comfortable using all mobile messaging apps and have come to the conclusion that these audiences will be fragmented, so I just think of them as all the same under the umbrella of more lightweight messaging.
  4. Now, here’s the kicker — for people who email me cold — I am going to reply with a “canned response” from Gmail, which will say the following: “Hello. Thank you for your email. Since I don’t know you, but would like to chat with you, I’m politely asking that you find me on one of the following mobile messaging apps: Kik, FB Messenger, Whatsapp, Twitter DM, or MessageMe (PIN: EG 925 CSU). I realize is cumbersome, but in an effort to focus on my immediate work and family, I’m relying on shorter bursts of messaging on mobile, which will lead to faster conversations and hopefully less email for us all. I look forward to seeing you on your mobile app of choice!

I had this thought today — there is a “weight” to email. It can feel heavy. The headers, the cc fields, the subjects, the signatures. Mobile messaging, on the other hand, feels light. I can hold it in the palm of my hand. There’s less weight, or perhaps no weight. Anyway, that’s the theory. I’m beginning this officially tomorrow and will keep to it for the summer. I’m traveling a bunch, too. I’ll report back after the summer and let you know how it all went. Thanks in advance for your ideas and comments.