Forgiveness Wednesday: The 100th Email

One of the many unintended consequences of our work lives moving online is that the number of our work relationships is rising exponentially. We’re more connected, have more access, and many businesses run entirely on and through the web.

For every task you can imagine, you can now talk to 1,000 people where, a few decades ago, about 10 would have to do. As much as this freedom helps us do business better, it also comes at a cost: we have to manage all these relationships in our heads.

Now, you’re not just dealing with Barry from logistics and the copy shop down the street. There’s Gina you met at that conference one time, who keeps emailing you, seven marketing agencies pitching you every month, and the writers forum whose talent pool keeps asking for more work.

That’s overwhelming and it gets exhausting fast. Four years ago, I set up my business email address. As of today, there are almost 20,000 emails in that inbox. That’s over 5,000 emails per year, over 13 per day. On some of them, I reply to 100 emails alone.

Inevitably, things slip through the cracks and I slip up. The 100th email will never be as good, as thought out, as kind or as patient as the first. Sometimes, I get impulsive. Sometimes, I burn bridges. Maybe you do too.

What’s important to remember is that, most of the time, these mistakes are contextual. They’re not signs you’re a bad person. They’re signs you just answered 100 emails.

When you notice them, don’t kick yourself. Just stop. Take a break. Call it a day.

Managing modern work relationships isn’t easy. But let’s not let them fool us into distorting our self-image. Your inbox never closes, but you can still pull the plug.

And sometimes, that’s the best thing we can do.


About Forgiveness Wednesday: No matter how the week starts, by Wednesday, we’ve had enough time to kick ourselves. We’re human. We make mistakes, we regret them, and we blame ourselves. But the only way we can keep moving on is if we forgive ourselves and those around us. So every Wednesday, forgiveness is what we’ll practice.

Let’s be kind to ourselves so we can succeed.

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