In a typical game you have a number of obstacles that you have to overcome. Overcome enough of them and you gain a level. Not unexpectedly, the designers of these games often use psychologists to maximize the rush of endorphins you get for each accomplishment.

It should come as no surprise that responding to your email often gives the same sense of accomplishment. You don’t level up for every thousand emails you answer but you still get the same rush of endorphins.  I admit I use and rely on email but I do believe that email overuse is having a significant impact on our society and much of it bad.

I’m not the first to say this. I certainly won’t be the last. There’s been many studies done on it and I’m sure many blogs. Consider this, when you get an email requesting a response, you feel compelled to respond right then. In part, you can blame it on the endorphins but you are slowly training yourself to always respond quickly.

How many times have you responded quickly to an email and regretted it later? Not just because you may have mortally insulted a fellow worker but because your response only addressed half the problem and you ended up in another string of emails trying to fix the other half of the problem. If you’re like me, way too often, yet not often enough to teach you to actually think out your response.

As an engineer I’m taught that the planning phase is probably the most important phase of a project. Send me a email though and all that training disappears. With the advent of email, I’ll jump right into the problem solving phase, spend 15 minutes detailing a solution, fire it off and enjoy that rush of endorphins. Too bad I didn’t take a few hours to investigate the problem, do a few experiments and plan the solution. I might have come up with one that actually worked.

As I look at all the management tied to their Smartphones, trying to respond in real time to all the emails, I realize they are having the same issues I have. They are actually training themselves not to plan.

This is bad for corporate America, very bad. Planning is the very essence of what is expected from our executives and they are training themselves to rely on the quick response, rather than long term solutions. Their management expects a quick response. Gone are the days when taking some time to prepare an answer was regarded as acceptable.

When you wonder why corporate America seems so short sighted, so focused on the moment, remember this post. We’re doing it to ourselves. We’ve taught ourselves to provide quick responses to our emails and become addicted to that feeling of accomplishment. At some point we start to forget why we believed planning was so important and believe we’re being effective because of the volume of email we answer.

Next time you receive an email, do yourself a favor, wait. Tell yourself you don’t need to respond right away. Take the time to plan your response. In the long run we’ll all benefit.

© Copyright 2012 Byron Seastrunk, All rights Reserved. Written For: Opinion by pen
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