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28 Aug

Typical two-minute-emails you should deal with immediately

Datum: 2023-08-28 09:00
A hand holds a wood block cube with an envelope stamp on one side, in front of a white shirt chest.

We have an over­whelm­ing amount of aspects to take into con­sid­er­a­tion at all times in our dai­ly lives. The phone rings, col­leagues swing by our office, and we receive a whole lot of emails. 

If you lis­ten to what we who have explored the field of pro­duc­tiv­i­ty say, we all agree that it is best and most effi­cient to do all tasks that just takes a minute or two imme­di­ate­ly — even if they are not the most urgent or important. 

For you who pre­fer lis­ten­ing to read­ing, this post is also avail­able as an episode of the Done!” pod­cast:

Many refer to the two-minute-lim­it as the time-bound­ary that deter­mines if some­thing can be regard­ed as quick” or not. So basi­cal­ly, if some­thing takes less than two min­utes to do, then do it imme­di­ate­ly to get it out of your way. This is a smart approach and as long as we have two min­utes to spare (which we might not always have), it is a good strategy.

Sift­ed and satisfied

If we have received a whole bunch of emails since we last opened the inbox, it will feel good to attend to the short ones straight away. We process many emails in a short while, and soon the list of unread emails is sig­nif­i­cant­ly short­er and much more pleas­ant to behold. The emails we need to spend more ener­gy and time on address­ing will pro­trude more now when we have got­ten all the clut­ter” out of the way. And besides, it is much more tempt­ing to open and reply to those short emails first since it always feels great to cross a few items off our list — emails just as well as to-do-tasks. 

So, what emails are we refer­ring to?

What con­sti­tutes one of those typ­i­cal two-minute-emails” and how can we use this prin­ci­ple to our advantage?

You prob­a­bly know best which emails that take less than two min­utes to process, but allow me to give you a few exam­ples from my own email inbox:

  • Could you sug­gest a date and time for a new meeting?”-emails are often quick and easy to respond to. I can quick­ly check my cal­en­dar and sug­gest a time, but I usu­al­ly send a link to my Acu­ity Sched­ul­ing page con­tain­ing my avail­able meet­ing times, to avoid the poten­tial spi­ral of that’s not a good time for me, how about this time?”, nope, no can do, but what about this?”, sor­ry, I’m busy then”, what about this instead?”, and so on.
  • Requests for meet­ings where we are invit­ed via a cal­en­dar are usu­al­ly two minute emails. We check our own cal­en­dar and answer it — no mat­ter if we are avail­able or not, since respond­ing quick­ly makes things con­sid­er­ably eas­i­er for the one who sent the invi­ta­tion to all the request­ed participants.
  • Do you agree with me in this matter?”-emails can be quick and easy to respond to. If I con­cur, then a Sure!” will suf­fice, but if I do not agree it might take longer to answer, and I then make a to-do-task out of com­pos­ing a reply instead.
  • Alright, then that’s what we’ll do!”-emails, the final con­fir­ma­tion of some­thing we agreed upon, are quick because they are much like the clos­ing mes­sage in a walkie-talkie-con­ver­sa­tion — Over and out!”. Read it, and either throw away or save it.
  • Have a good weekend!”-emails and oth­er such greet­ings or phras­es are quick­ly read and processed — and they bright­en your mood as well.
  • For your information”-emails (per­haps the sub­ject line even con­tains FYI” or the email is part of a con­ver­sa­tion I have been cc:ed into) are often quick and easy since they should not require any actions or activ­i­ty from me, just a quick eye on what­ev­er infor­ma­tion the email con­tains. If it requires me to read some­thing more thor­ough­ly (that takes longer) — then let us cre­ate a to-do-task from the email since read” is a verb like all oth­ers, and thus requires its own to-do-task.
  • Adver­tise­ment from senders I wish to receive adver­tise­ment from also falls into this cat­e­go­ry of quick two-minute-emails. A quick glance is often fol­lowed by either an equal­ly quick click on the Delete-but­ton, but could some­times result in me cre­at­ing an Order [something]”-task.

This is a gen­er­al overview of the quick two-minute-emails I often receive. You prob­a­bly have more, or com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent, examples.

Do this

If you want to take advan­tage of that cer­tain emails just take a minute or two to process, then make it eas­i­er to do so both when send­ing and when receiv­ing email.

If you want to give it a go through­out this com­ing week, pay extra atten­tion to any emails you receive that might fall under this cat­e­go­ry, and choose to process these emails first (unless you have received some oth­er longer, but more impor­tant email that you need to deal with immediately).

And, when you write emails to oth­ers, try being so brief and clear when for­mu­lat­ing your mes­sage that the receiv­er per­ceives your emails as two-minute-emails”, mean­ing easy to read and respond to. Chances are that you start get­ting replies faster if you do. You might not be able to do this for all emails, but per­haps you could be more to the point in more of the emails you send than you pre­vi­ous­ly have been?

Short­er, faster, easier

If you process the quick and easy two-minute-emails first, the inbox will emp­ty a lot faster. You will get rid of many emails in a short space of time, which in itself gen­er­ates a cer­tain degree of sat­is­fac­tion. If you keep more of your emails brief you make the pro­cess­ing of them by the recip­i­ents eas­i­er, and since you then prob­a­bly get replies faster, doing so will ben­e­fit your own work as well.

What is your method?

Do you have more exam­ples of short and quick emails, oth­er than the ones I just list­ed? Tell me!

(But, what are you to do when you have far too many emails flagged?)

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