A couple of weeks ago, I sent an email at 11:00pm to a business contact who I didn’t know very well. I frequently send emails late at night and wasn’t expecting a response for at least 12 hours.
At 11:15pm my iPhone dinged. I assumed it was eBay telling me for the 32nd time that I should use their website to sell stuff. But it was a response to my email of 15 minutes ago. How nice.
Technically, I should have titled this article, “What Your 11:15pm Email Means to Me,” but that didn’t sound right. And the significance isn’t in the exact time of the email— that would be weird. (For the record, we did exchange a few more emails time stamped after 12:00am.)
The point is that when my iPhone dings at 11:15pm, 12:00am, or 1:30am, it tells me something about the sender that would never be communicated in an email sent during daylight hours.
As a startup founder, I can relate to you when you send me a midnight email. It means a lot to me.
It means you’re working at midnight
You should be sleeping. Or at least watching Netflix. But instead you’re working.
To me, this means you don’t have work hours and non-work hours because you enjoy your job. Actually, enjoy your job is an 8:00pm email—you love your job. In fact, you don’t even think of it as a job.
Since your job is what you love doing, you’re probably pretty good at it. You’re also probably a pleasure to work with because you clearly work hard, you love what you do, and you’re good at it.
It means you care about my email.
It was midnight, which means you knew I wouldn’t expect a response for at least 10 hours. You could have taken up to 48 hours before there were any unmet expectations. But you’re not one to simply conform to the status quo.
Your interest was in what I had to say in my email and what you thought in response, rather than if and/or when digital etiquette would require a response.
Reading my email at midnight is nice, but you went beyond that. You were engaged enough to process the message, have a reaction, formulate a response and type it out. Whatever your response is, it must be something that matters to you, which makes me want to read it.
It means you get things done.
Why reply to my email tomorrow morning when you can reply to it now? Then, when I get to work in the morning, I will immediately see your reply and can respond right away.
Or even better, if you’re like me, you saw that I sent you an email at 11:00pm and hoped that by responding at 11:15 you would catch me while I was still in my inbox. I could then get back to you tonight and by, say, 11:30, everything could be settled.
Forward movement in 30 minutes while most people are sleeping or watching Netflix. That’s your idea of a good night. We’re going to get along well.
It being midnight, you’re also probably busy and tired, which I respect. A person gets busy and tired when they’re dedicated, and dedication is necessary to accomplish something significant.
Of course, there’s always the possibility that you’re just based in China, it’s noon, and you have no idea what I’m talking about. But I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt.