This past week Google announced a new feature for email users – the ability to undo a sent email. You are not actually “calling back” the email, rather canceling the email in the queue. This is because the feature works as a delay send, and during that delay you can choose to cancel the email. Upon activating the “unsend” feature, you tell Google how long to delay the email in queue before sending it out, from 5 seconds to 30 seconds. After that time period is gone, so is the email. No way to undo it.
Reducing “Email Remorse”
The primary purpose for this new feature is to reduce the remorse and regret in an inadvertent email. Whether it be an accidental “reply all” or sending to the wrong individual (email pre-populated incorrect name). However, it is unlikely you will want to change the content in the email in such a short amount of time the delay allows for, so it may not reduce the amount of “foot in mouth” and hasty/emotional emails we often regret later.
The strategy of delay is the right strategy, the problem is that it is too short a time interval to re-think the content. A longer delay is necessary for emotional and knee jerk reactions to cool down; 30 seconds is not sufficient for that, maybe 30 minutes or 30 hours is needed. Given that, you could choose to “Save” the initial email and return to it after you have had time to cool down. I have done this several times and it has worked marvelously, especially when I am emotional. Many of those saved emails I never ended up sending. The emotional impulse ended, my cooler head prevailed and determined the hasty response would have worsened the situation. Thank goodness I delayed sending it!
When Procrastination Benefits Us
In this case, procrastination or delaying sending a response can be very helpful when we are emotional. We are pretty good at recognizing when we are emotional, but we are not so good at inhibiting the emotional response. Procrastination/delay can help. This is true in many aspects of life, including investing.
Many investment decisions are made when we are emotional. This shouldn’t be too surprising because when we are emotional, the amygdala is firing and that is our personal gas pedal. The amygdala promotes action and response. That is why when we are emotional we often do something (and usually regret it later). The thoughtful, rational brain takes a backseat when the amygdala is in charge. When the amygdala is in charge, we are in a hurry to respond. When our rational brain is in charge, we take a more measured, deliberate approach.
Strategic Procrastination Helps You Make Better Investment Decisions
So the next time you feel you need to make this investment now, today, right this second or you may miss out…that is your amygdala speaking. You are now investing with emotions. Since there is no “undo trade” button, you may want to delay your response for a predetermined period of time.
Strategic procrastination should be a part of every investor’s investment plan – and the duration of delay should be established ahead of time and apply to every investment decision. This delay will allow time for “cooler heads” to prevail. A distraction and delay will allow your thoughtful brain to become engaged. You may still choose to make the investment, but at least it will be made with your thoughtful brain, not with your emotional impulse.