Why is sending email so difficult?

I have discovered that email is becoming a huge issue for me. Not receiving it… I’m pretty good at that. I’m decent at replying too. You send me a message and (eventually) you will receive a response from me. No problem. But I have a huge problem trying to send new emails.

Between mergers, buyouts, transitions, Facebook, transfers, Twitter, new jobs, text messaging, old jobs, AOL, and the closing of Geocities: I have on average 13.24 email addresses per contact in my address book. And I have no guarantee that any of those are correct.

So these days, when I want to send an email, the process goes something like this:

Step 1) Something comes up that causes me to need to email someone (John Smith in this case). Usually it’s confirmation of information…or something that’s too long for a text but not important enough for a phone call.

Step 2) Fire up my email client (Gmail this week)

Step 3) Write the email. This is the easy part.

Step 4) Open up address book to select the person I’m emailing. Google is helpful in that it stores every email address I’ve ever sent a message to. Helpful like Microsoft’s Clippy.

Step 5) Search for the contact by how I most likely would have filed it: Smith, John? John Smith? Smith? Smitty? John? Johnny? John S? John Smitty? John from college? College John? College Smitty? IBM John? Jane’s Husband? Rover’s owner? And so on. I realize that the filing problem is my fault. However, I have no idea how to fix it at this point.

Step 6) Look through all of the addresses that don’t have names associated with them. Again, Google’s auto save feature is very helpful here.

Step 7) Check my desk for addresses I may have jotted down. By this point I have a list of about 13 addresses that don’t match and may or may not be correct. Some were valid in the past, but some not any longer. Some are still valid but they never check them.  Some don’t belong to my friend at all, but it’s close enough.  And they may or may not still be going by ladiesman8 at Hotmail but they could be smith at Yahoo now or did they move to Gmail and are now jsmith474829? Sigh.

Step 8) I ask my wife if she knows John’s email address. She helpfully supplies it (likely using the same method I just used above), but I discover that it is not in the list I’ve generated thus far. I add it to the list.

Now I have 14 email addresses for John.

Step 9) Given the uselessness of my address list I go out to social networks. I check Facebook to see if John listed his email address there (he didn’t)   I check Twitter for a contact link or page…nope. I check LinkedIn…oh wait. Frustration abounds.

Step 10) At this point I consider sending the message via Facebook, but am not sure when he’ll be on Facebook again. Or if he ever checks or uses Facebook. When was his last post? Two weeks ago.

Step 11) At this point I have 2 choices : text him for his email address or call and ask for it.

Step 12) I call and we talk about what I originally wanted to email them. Get their email address for future use and create a new contact in my email and label it “for reals use this one”! I may even delete a few of the other addresses but by this point I’ve forgotten how I found most of them.

This has been something I’ve struggled with for years now. But I didn’t realize how much a problem this was until I started using Google+. In order to invite people to join, you have to know their email address. This is why my mom is my only friend on Google+ right now: she knows my email address….at least one of them.


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