Don’t Bother Me on Sunday

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Stop Bothering Me!
Stop Bothering Me!

I got this e-mail from Paul yesterday and while it’s a reasonable request on the surface of it I thought my response would be valuable for you to read if you struggle with the same problem or help you get some understanding if you have the same complaint.

Here is the e-mail:

Today is Sunday, my day, a day that I hate getting business emails. You have the whole week to send me your stuff but come Sunday I don’t want to see your name, the next best deal, or that I am going to die if I don’t buy something by such and such a time. I consider it rude and inconsiderate that you would bother me on this day, when we are pounded unmercifully during the week. Please do not tell me what I can or cannot do as I know my options, I just do not want to be bothered on Sundays.

As I said, it sounds reasonable on the surface, I certainly don’t mean to be “rude and inconsiderate” and I appreciate Paul taking the time to express his opinion in a calm and civil manner; something that is definitely lacking in today’s world where everyone seems to feel they have to be harsh and mean.

Unfortunately, when you think about it you realize the sheer impossibility of actually complying with the request.

Why It’s Impossible

I have many thousands of people who have chosen – via double opt-in – to receive e-mail from me and those people are all around the world, in many cultures, with many differing desires.

For example, some people may have Saturday as “their day” or Monday or maybe their day off is Wednesday and that is “their day” or they don’t want to be bothered on a Friday because they’re trying to finish up things for the weekend and, of course, many people don’t have a day so there is no generally good day or bad day for them.

Different Locations, Different Time Zones, Different Cultures
Different Locations, Different Time Zones, Different Cultures

I can also show you e-mail from people who ask me to send my e-mails on Sunday (I don’t usually send a lot on Sunday) because Sunday is the day when they have the time to go through e-mail and if it’s sent earlier then there is more likelihood they would miss it.

In addition, with different time zones around the world, what is one person’s Sunday may be another person’s Monday or another person’s Saturday!

Then, factor in that there is no way to know what days each person prefers — even if you asked them, the odds are most people wouldn’t be bothered to tell you — but, anyway, there is no way (or no way other than a long, hard, error-prone way) to do it even if I did know their preferences.

Potential Arguments

Now, I could make an argument that Paul could have just deleted the e-mail because it has my name in the From column but that wouldn’t be correct or fair because his point is he didn’t want to receive it in the first place, he didn’t want to be bothered to have to delete it.

I could also make the argument that I rarely send promotional e-mail — maybe 10-20%, although this one was promotional because of the time sensitivity — but again, it wouldn’t be a fair and correct rebuttal.

While Paul mentioned promotional e-mail in general (and I agree there is a flood of them) he wasn’t upset that it was promotional just that it arrived on his day — and thank you for understanding that about promotional e-mail Paul, because online entrepreneurs and marketers who get upset about other online entrepreneurs and marketers sending promotional e-mail just make no sense to me because that is, after all, part of the job of the sender and of the receiver.

You see, the point is, there is no solution to this problem and so neither you nor I should be concerned about it, however much we might want to help the receiver.

You Can't Please Everyone
You Can't Please Everyone

You can’t please everyone and you shouldn’t even try. There is no successful venture that tried to please everyone; which is a reason why Wal-Mart doesn’t try to appeal to the Saks Fifth Avenue crowd and vice versa.

And even your ideal customers won’t like everything you do because they may have different focuses or be in different stages of their business or any number of other differences depending upon the situation.

That’s why not everyone invests in everything you promote and why I don’t think everyone should invest in everything I create or promote. It has to be the right thing at the right time for each specific individual.

Possible Solutions

The only “solution” I know about for Paul’s issue is to put the burden on the receiver, although, of course, that isn’t optimal from many receivers viewpoint and Paul specifically rejected it 🙂

You see, while the sender has very few, if any, options — other than never sending e-mail — the receiver has a range of options, here are some of the primary ones:

1. People don’t need to check their e-mail at all on any day they choose; admittedly this restricts them from getting personal e-mail so the solution isn’t that great.

2. To overcome the issue with #1, people can decide what e-mail addresses to provide and “filter” out business e-mail by using a separate e-mail address for business purposes or even for the purposes of subscribing to other people.

Then, they can just not check those e-mail on any days when they don’t want business e-mail.

3. People can use filtering mechanisms to move e-mail from specific sender to a specific folder and then just ignore those folders until they are ready to deal with them.

In fact, I do this as a matter of course, not because I have a day I don’t want to be bothered on but because I have priorities on my time and my e-mail and this is an automatic way to help me manage that and be more efficient and productive.

This does take a 15-30 seconds to set up each rule though.

4. Unsubscribe. This is the ultimate signal to say you don’t want the e-mail but you need to decide for yourself if the “bothersome” e-mails are outweighed by the useful ones or not and then unsubscribe or not based upon that compromise.

Yes, I know Paul seemed to reject that option to but, since the sender can’t really do anything, it is a viable option for the receiver.

Ultimately, while it’s unfortunate I disrupted Paul’s day, there is really nothing I or anyone else can do to please everyone so for me to attempt the impossible isn’t really reasonable for me to try or, when it comes down to it, for anyone to ask.

I hope that Paul is getting value out of what I provide and continues as a subscriber if that’s the best thing for him but otherwise I would recommend that anyone who doesn’t want to continue as a subscriber of mine or anyone else just do what I say at the top of every e-mail I send: “If you don’t want to get e-mail from me anymore please use the link at the bottom, just click it to unsubscribe.”

Both you and the sender of the e-mail will be better for it.

So, what would you do differently? Or how would you respond? Tell me in the comments below…


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2 thoughts on “Don’t Bother Me on Sunday”

  1. Kevin,
    Thanks for your thoughts.
    I, too, answer the telephone and e-mail (and Skype and …) on my schedule; to be is the only rational and productive way to run a business or a life.
    By the way, my e-mail was a broadcast message, most of them are, except for specific situations.

  2. David,

    Great arguments and solutions. we have had a similar reaction from subscribers a few times in the past. We use Office Autopilot and can exclude days if we wanted, but have not taken that route.

    Many of the emails we send are through broadcasts, instead of scheduled follow up so not usually an issue because we are usually enjoying the weekend.

    I think the responsibility really comes down to the receiver, if they do not want to receive email on Sunday they really should even be looking at their inbox.

    Unfortunately, in today’s world most of us have our email coming to our phones. Like Pavlov’s dog, when the message indicator chimes we feel compelled to check messages.

    In order to be the most productive, my phone is silenced so I check it based on my schedule rather than clients and friends.


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