We all know that email is a burden for everyone. One of its best features — enabling asynchronous communication — is also its chief bug, i.e., whenever you’re not using email, someone is leaving you work to do in your inbox. Take a break and you fall behind; fall behind and you can’t take breaks.
But last night, I made a decision to clear out some space in my calendar, stay up a little bit later than usual, and really work hard in my inbox. I communicated as clearly, directly, and energetically as I could. I picked up old threads. I started some new conversations. I invited some people into, or back into, my workflow. I sent out thank yous and provocations and improvisations. I closed some loops that desperately needed closing and opened a few that needed opening. In short, I tried to make email feel artful and personal again. Vital again.
And today, as people responded to last night’s flood of emails, I felt truly energized every time I looked at my inbox. The energy, inquisitiveness, and creativity of the emails I received matched the energy, inquisitiveness, and creativity of the emails I had sent. Being in email felt like being in really good conversations. It felt human. The game itself didn’t change, but for an evening and a day, the players did.