If your finger is currently hovering over the “send” button while you frantically proofread your latest work correspondence, get ready for an announcement you didn’t know you’ve been waiting for. Gmail is rolling out a new feature that’ll allow you to (wait for it) schedule emails for a later date and time without needing to use a third-party app, like Boomerang. And as someone who struggles with email anxiety, this feels like the first time the service is finally doing me a solid. (The platform turns 15 years old this month, and it spent 10 of those years low-key ruining my life.)
In 2009, I was informed that MGAnimePrincess, my AOL screen name, was maybe an unprofessional moniker to appear on college applications. But once I traded it in for a more poised (and more lackluster) address, email was never the same. No longer would I delight in the chime of “You’ve got mail,” promising kind correspondence from some long-distance friend or chain mail appealing to true love or death (no middle ground), because with Gmail, things were all business, all the time.
Enter my email anxiety: After college applications gave way to job applications, Gmail became increasingly overwhelming. Composing the a message to, say, a prospective employer is scary in its own right, but hitting send? Forget about it. It’s straight-up terrifying because there’s no going back. So I often engaged in a procrastination-bolstering tango with the send button, which usually went something like this:
What if I send and they don’t respond? What if I send and they do respond and they’re mean? What if I send and what I sent has an embarrassing typo? What if I send and I sound like some flowery moron? What if I send and I accidentally attach the wrong file? What if it’s that picture of me sprawled out, Courtney Love-style, that one night with all the absinthe and brie? Okay, phew, it’s the right file. I’ll send.
Gmail’s scheduling feature takes the edge off permanence. Sure, once the email hits its scheduled time of departure, it’s gone. But hitting schedule feels far less scary than hitting send.
Obviously, I can’t not send any emails, and it’s straight-up exhausting to do that tortured tango on the reg, which is precisely why Gmail’s forthcoming scheduling feature is so sexy. It takes the edge off permanence. Sure, once the email hits its scheduled time of departure, it’s gone. But hitting schedule feels far less scary than hitting send. It simultaneously gives me the opportunity to revisit my message while also helping me put it out of mind. Plus, it allows me to work ahead, so if I want someone to receive an email first thing in the morning, when it’ll be fresh at the top of an inbox, I don’t need to toss and turn all night remembering to do it. (I guess this contradicts the call to action to stop emailing after work hours to promote mental health, but one problem at a time, kids.)
Furthermore, if I receive someone’s out-of-office automated-response message, I no longer feel the responsibility to double-email into a brick wall or remember that they get back from Thailand April 8 and I can re-send then. I can simply write my email and schedule it out for April 8 like magic.
Still, even with this update, we’ll never go back to the glory days of email, when our inboxes remained in single digits, and Tom Hanks could catfish Meg Ryan without conflict. At worst, email is a nightmare stress factory; at best, a professional tool for communication. And thanks to the ability to schedule outbound messages, maybe it can skew more toward the latter. (Of course, there’s no word on when the new tool will actually reach your inbox, but the rough estimate is “soon.” Maybe Google scheduled the update. Ugh.)
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