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Email and The News Ticker


Robby

It was sometime in the late 1980s that the news ticker first became a television staple. It scrolls across the bottom of the screen, and gives the latest headlines, stock prices, sports scores or other minutiae. It’s a great way for media outlets to provide two kinds of programming at the same time and keep two different audiences engaged. The most useful aspect of the “crawler” is in some respects also its worst quality: if you miss something, no need to worry–it will come up again.

As we become more and more overwhelmed with personal and professional email, it seems like some people have started to treat their inbox like a news ticker. They will see a message appear on the screen, and within hours it will be pushed down and out of sight. Sure, one can use the search feature or the scrollbar to find an old message, but it might as well be forgotten. That same wonderful, terrible feature of a 24-hour news channel crawler is also at work. If someone sent you an email and you didn’t get to it, you can probably expect them to email you again.

If you’re someone who treats email like a news ticker and not like actual correspondence, then you are probably making other people work harder to get your attention. Take the first step and reorder your inbox to show the oldest messages at the top. That way, you are processing them in the order they are received, not according to which message happens to be visible when you glance at your computer.

On the other hand, if you’re trying to reach someone by email repeatedly and they don’t reply, using the same message over and over again only enables their bad behavior. Instead, switch your tone from informative to concerned. Call them on the phone and suggest that perhaps their spam filter is hiding your messages. Reach out to one of their colleagues to see if they can help you make contact.

Email is supposed to be mail. Don’t treat it like a news ticker. Expect messages to come once and be processed, not to steadily crawl by and repeat for eternity.

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About the Blogger: Robby Slaughter is a productivity speaker and expert. He is a principal with a AccelaWork, an Indianapolis consulting firm.

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Tue, February 22 2011 » Technology Tips, Time Management

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