I am notoriously terrible at replying to everything–text messages, emails, letters, Facebook messages, voicemails, etc. Chances are if you tried to get ahold of me before, it took me a good while to return the favor. This is not a proud thing for me to admit. Because I can feel the karma just glaring daggers at me as I scream about someone not texting me back. But I’m trying to get better. Here’s a few things we can all do to be better friends.
1) Turn on Read Receipts. I know, this is a terrifying endeavor. What if you read a text, and you can’t reply, so the person thinks you’re just ignoring them? News flash, without read receipts, THEY STILL THINK THE SAME THING. If you don’t have time to reply to the text, don’t open it. The little red dot on your messaging app will still be there to bother you in an hour. If you’re in a romantic situation, and you want time to think about you’re reply, stop dating someone with an iPhone. Or, you know, turn off Read Receipts for a few hours. There will always be extenuating circumstances to all of your social media decisions, but Read Receipts have made me a better texter. Unless you count the time my sister thought I had been kidnapped because I didn’t open her text for 24-hours. There’s definitely a trade-off.
2) Reply immediately. I’ve learned this a lot with Read Receipts, but replying immediately after I open something leaves me less stressed later. Have an email that just needs a quick two sentence reply? Don’t “wait until you’re at a keyboard” or “do it later” just do it now. If it is going to take you longer than 30 seconds, set up a reminder for yourself later that day. If it’s important, make it a priority. You’ll be much less stressed later, I promise.
3) Ignore your phone while you’re driving. This one, honestly, shouldn’t even be something I need to discuss. Not only are you putting yourself in danger when you check Facebook on the highway, but you’re also putting other people around you in danger. We all know this, and yet still we do it. I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve opened a text at a red light, only to forget about it until five hours later. It’s dumb and extremely dangerous. Just. Don’t. Do it.
4) Be upfront. If you can’t give someone your full attention (in any setting) let them know. If your girlfriend Facebook messages you to rant about her boyfriend, and you’re just about to head out the door for a date, don’t reply at the dinner table. Tell her your situation, reschedule the chat, and put your phone away. Don’t try to juggle too many things at once, I can tell you, from the other side, you’re not pulling it off at well as you think you are. Your “uh, huh, yeah, totally”s just feel insulting.
5) If you’ve mastered the little things and still struggle with the big stuff (bills, letters, employment emails), set up reminders. Almost every phone is equipped with reminders to nudge you in the right direction. The creepiest (albeit, possibly the most helpful) of these is the “when I get home” reminder. If you know you will only do work when undistracted at home, set up a few notifications that will go off right when you walk in the door. And then do them. Immediately.
There you have it! Five tips to make you less awful. I abide by most of these, and I can probably still come up with a hefty list of people who have been left behind. Don’t overdo yourself. Studies suggest that you can really only maintain 150 relationships at a time. Cut yourself some slack.