As the tide rolls in with the phases of the moon, the afternoon surge of email and other communication is predictable. New information is posted, articles published and requests sent. We go to our mailbox, whether encountering physical correspondence or the electronic sort, to address the interactions.
Some is of the marketing variety, trying to draw attention to their product, service or nonpprofit. Some is of the business variety, updates to balances, changes to agreements or reminders for needed action. And still more is of a weighty collection of matters – personal and business letters, checks and deposits or pressing decisions that require our input. We triage, sort and ameliorate each. Most are quickly scanned and recycled. Others are processed and cataloged. But a few require response. Questions are asked with the sender holding motion until our rejoinder.
With note of the irony, it is in this very most important of the categories where we often procrastinate. Setting aside critical matters for future consideration, we postpone our attentions until some other, non-specific time. When a message contains three questions (two to be answered with little thought and one requiring some deliberation), we respond only to the two, ignoring what must have been the most pressing in the mind of the sender.
Wouldn’t we better serve our purposes by addressing the more difficult interrogatory with primacy? Still, is the more complex material too much for immediate attention? Would it be better addressed with better preparation? Perhaps. Yet, shouldn’t that be said? Shouldn’t we make clear our intention to answer (or not) the unanswered at some defined point yet to come? Like an undiagnosed and selective attention deficit disorder, are we dancing around the most difficult and, one could surmise, most critical while paying clear attention to the inconsequential?