Don’t tell me ahead of time

I used to think advanced notice was a good thing. As I grow older, busier, whatever-ier, I’m less inclined to hold that opinion. It turns out I draw a distinction between things I need to think about and things I need to do.

If I need to think about something, then by all means give me some time. Unlimited lead time isn’t the answer, but I prefer to have time to weigh my options. In fact, I will probably over-weigh them. But still, if I need to make a decision about something, I’d prefer some time to consider it first. Whatever I may be good at, my first instinct is often reactive and hot-tempered. (Though my no-time-to-prepare reactions when I was a floor supervisor at McDonald’s were often pretty good. I may be best-suited for that job.)

On the other hand, if I just need to do something that doesn’t require preparation, don’t tell me until I can act on it. My employer is currently running a regular company-wide survey to gauge morale and the factors that contribute to it. I received no fewer than four emails in the week prior letting me know that this survey was coming up and that I should take it. This included messages from the survey team as well as various levels of my management chain.

Now I get that this is important. But they didn’t give us the survey questions ahead of time (nor did they need to), and the survey period runs for a few weeks. Why put so much effort into telling people about it before they could act on it? That’s a good way to get them to forget to do it.

Similarly, a non-profit organization that I’m a member of sent me an email last night letting me know that it’s time to vote for the open board seats. Or rather it’s almost time. Voting starts today, which wasn’t made clear until I clicked the submit button at the end. (The dates didn’t specify a time zone, so I figured it was probably UTC.)

In both cases, I put a reminder on my to-do list with an appropriate due date. It’s just a little bit frustrating to have to do that. Instead of being able to act immediately, I had to take an intermediate step. That’s not a very friendly way to run things. I’ll stop yelling at clouds now.

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