My busy schedule forces me to write more and more e-mails on a tiny handheld device, or PDA (personal digital assistant). Its 4.5-square-centimeter screen usually makes focusing on the entire message difficult because I cannot have it entirely on view. Its 3-millimeter type size increases my chances of making typographical errors. Add to these problems the distracting environments in which I compose these messages: bumpy buses, noisy restaurants, crowded elevators, and busy corridors in major American cities.
These factors contribute to e-mails whose tone is definitely curt and whose details are possibly missing, inaccurate, or unclear. Here are three solutions, depending on the situation:
- Reread the message before pressing send.
- Return the e-mail with a phone call, whose give-and-take nature suits the circumstances.
- Wait until you return to the office, where you can write your response on a larger screen.
These PDAs should serve us in doing our job efficiently—not cause us new communication problems. We should use them wisely.
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