Perfect is indeed the enemy of good

The desire to do things well stops us doing them at all.

I re-connected with someone on linked-in the other week. (Yes, I actually use it like that). And he sent a lovely, long detailed reply. One that I was delighted to read. One that I want to reply to.

But I haven’t.

Anytime someone sends me a nice, long, structured message, on pretty much any medium, it falls into the awful silo of “well i need to sit down and write a nice reply”.

And it stays in that silo, along with all the other things like that.

So instead, I’ll write a little blog post about not being able to write, using up some of my daily word-quota in the process, and making the writing of the reply, even less likely.

 

On email etiquette

Lovely seeing you recently by the way, how are the kids? Great, that’s lovely, can you do me a favour?

Is it better to skip past the faux-pleasantries and to save everyone some time?

Hi,

How are you doing, long no time no speak, how are the kids? That new house you bought? Your family, they’re doing well? The cat? Oh…run over, that’s really sad.

How’s that project whose name I can’t remember with the things and stuff? And the weather?

BTW CAN YOU HELP ME BECAUSE I NEED SOMETHING?

I’m looking for new opportunities at the moment (Technical Product Management: check-out my Linked-In). I’m speaking to people in my network, including the sleeper-cells I’ve not spoken to in some time.

I’m trying to avoid emails like the ones above. People are busy: even before you open a message from someone you’ve not spoken to in years, the subtext is pretty obvious.

Sure I’ll genuinely say “Hope you are well” but anything else seems insincere.

Am I wrong to skip the dance, get to the point quickly and save everyone some time? Or am I being rude by not playing the game?

paper saving

Until we really are paperless, a simple idea to save paper when printing out emails.

While we’re meant to be in the era of the paperless office, I still print more than I’d like.

Why don’t Outlook, and web browsers, have something in the pagination engine that detects when there are fewer than 5 lines of text on the final page of a printout. When it finds this, it shrinks the text/spacing (by a level most people wouldn’t notice on a multiple page document) and repaginates it to avoid that overspill and save 1 sheet printing.

This only really works for plain text and HTML, where there isn’t (usually) explicit pagination, but would be largely transparent to users (Word did have a “shrink by 1 page” button, I’m unsure if this still exists, and using it requires user intervention.).

No longer would the phrase “please consider the environment before printing this email” languish alone on its own bit of paper.