6 Quick Steps to E-mail Perfection

“If you can’t write your idea on the back of my calling card, you don’t have a clear idea.” ~ David Belasco. This post is inspired by Zen Habits & five.sentenc.es.

E-mail overload.. we’ve all faced it! How do you actively contribute to the problem? I came to write this article after searching for solutions for myself.

I was wanting to increase the speed at which my own emails are responded to.

The Problem

E-mail takes too long to respond to, resulting in continuous inbox overflow for those who receive a lot of it. Long Emails suck because;

  • They take too long to read
  • They don’t respect the recipients time
  • You don’t get to the point
  • You’re asked too many questions
  • Therefore you won’t respond
The Solution

Treat all email responses like SMS text messages, using a set number of letters per response. Since it’s too hard to count letters, we count sentences instead. Try implementing a personal policy that all email responses regardless of recipient or subject will be five sentences or less. It’s that simple.

  1. Keep it to 5 sentences; No more. I stole this from five.sentenc.es of course.. & now Zen Habits
  2. Figure out your main point; If you think you need more than 5 sentences, you haven’t figured out the key thing you want to say. Take a second to figure it out, and stick to just that. Tip.. back to the opening quote “If you can’t write your idea on the back of my calling card, you don’t have a clear idea.” from our new friend David Belasco
  3. Ask one thing; Don’t ask 10 questions, just ask one. Or two at the most. You’re much more likely to get an answer quickly
  4. Edit; If you stretched it to 8 sentences, cut out 3
  5. Link; If you need to refer to info, include a link to it on the web
  6. Post it; If the info you need to share isn’t on the web, put it there. Create a long answer or long background document (then edit it to the essential info) and post it online. Use your blog, or one of the many free tools for posting info. Create an FAQ if it’s useful. Link to it in your email.

Personally, I’m really eager to try this out! Would love to hear back from you if you’re already a practitioner, or in a few weeks time if you’re going to make the switch as well.

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