Turning 10 seconds into 5 minutes
For a long time, I’ve been observing how little people read things. Ahhhhh… but what does ‘read‘ or ‘reading‘ mean? The best definition I’ve found is, “the cognitive process of understanding a written linguistic message.” In this post I’m referring to things that people ought to have read i.e. various communications via electronic means and paper-based documents. I’ll focus again on email for an example because it causes so much time wasting. I really don’t know how much of my time is wasted by other people with e-correspondence – but I know it’s a lot.
Here is what happened.
- I had an electronic form which I sent by email to be signed by somebody, then to be scanned with their signature and to be sent off.
- The email outlined in 4 numerated points what needed to be done – each line of those containing no more than 6 words. I took time to be short, sweet and clear.
- In particular one of the instructions was for it to be sent to email address A, and copied to my email address B (so I know it was sent off).
- Instead I get the signed form scanned and sent to me, with no evidence that it was ‘copied’ to me (if it was sent to A). [I don’t make assumptions because I know of a thing called STUPIDITY among the humans]
- I then enquire if it was sent to the email address A and copied to me at B.
- The response was “No – but I can.” (that’s all).
- So I respond “Please do. Thanks“.
- Then minutes later I get a response to my original email (with the instructions) stating, “Aha, didn’t read your email properly! sorry” – just like that – still no confirmation that it was sent to email address A.
So 5 to 8 could have been avoided by spending 10 seconds more just reading 4 short lines. Instead, probably 5 minutes was spent with all this. Let’s say that 2.5 minutes of that was mine, “sorry” won’t give it back to me!
How does this sort of thing happen? Well I can’t know for sure but I’ll suggest the following based on long experience:
- People like to appear to be efficient, so they rush around madly.
- People will claim that they’re busy.
- They’re busy chasing their tails and wasting more time.
- Most times people will read only the first 2 lines of an email, flash through the rest and think, “I got this! Easy! I’m good.“
- They have little regard for other people’s time or the time that they waste (which is often paid for by somebody else).
And why am I documenting this? So – that for the future, I have evidence on which I can make generalisations. If one person can do the above rubbish then I’m betting that in a single day in the UK probably 10,000 other people are doing the same.
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