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28 May

Write shorter emails

Datum: 2024-05-28 15:04
A partially opened matryoshka doll with a smaller doll inside is displayed against a white background.

Mike David­son final­ly grew tired of emails. He received quite a lot of emails and the han­dling and pro­cess­ing of them took more time than he was will­ing to spend. He did not dis­like emails as a means of com­mu­ni­cat­ing — they do have their advan­tages. But, do they have to con­sume so much time?

He gave him­self a chal­lenge: from now on, he was going to write short­er emails. Every email was to be com­posed of five sen­tences or less. To sup­port him­self in this endeav­or he cre­at­ed the tiny web­site five​.sen​tenc​.es, where he explained what he had decid­ed to do and to which he could link in case a receiv­er of his emails won­dered why he had such an off­hand tone (“Was it some­thing I said? Some­thing I did?”).

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

If me, then maybe you?

I am drawn to Mike’s idea — part­ly because I spend a lot of time answer­ing emails, and part­ly because I am aware that some­times I write more than what might be nec­es­sary. That is why my emails are now short­er than before — not always a strict five sen­tences (because who wants to be rigid and dog­mat­ic?), but I try to keep approx­i­mate­ly that length.

Do this

If han­dling and pro­cess­ing emails take up more time than you would like it to, do this:

  1. Decide to write short(er) emails.
  2. Set a max­i­mum lim­it for their length. Mike aimed at five sen­tences, but for those even more rad­i­cal, he also cre­at­ed the web­sites two​.sen​tenc​.es and three​.sen​tence​.es.
  3. If you want to, add the link to one of the in your email sig­na­ture as an expla­na­tion for the abbre­vi­at­ed for­mu­la­tion (I choose not to, though).
  4. Try to stick to the max­i­mum num­ber of sen­tences for a week and eval­u­ate how you did (and what it was like) when you receive the next Done! from me in a week.

I will not always write short emails from now on since I some­times real­ly enjoy writ­ing more exten­sive texts. For instance, I nor­mal­ly write a long response to emails from my lis­ten­ers and read­ers because I find it impor­tant to be detailed and thor­ough when I share tips and tricks.

But, at times like these, when I have got a very intense trav­el­ing- and lec­tur­ing sched­ule, I will embrace this chal­lenge to make my work­day a tad easier.

Less email­ing, more possibilities

If you write short­er emails, your email­ing will sim­ply take less time. You will send the emails faster and you will get more time doing things not con­cerned with com­pos­ing or respond­ing to emails.

How do you do it?

How do you sim­pli­fy and make your email­ing more effec­tive? Have you got a trick or some kind of rule of thumb? Feel free to share it with me!

(Also, it’s real­ly help­ful to write clear sub­ject lines when emailing!)

There's even more!

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If you want more tips on how to create good structure at work, there are many ways to get that from me - in podcasts, videos, books, talks and other formats.

Yes, I want more tips!