Starting last week, I decided to write shorter emails. It's influenced by the lawyers, designers, insurance salesman, and advisers I've been receiving emails from. I've noticed one thing about all of this correspondence: It's short. It's really short.
Many of these emails are under 100 words. But, they get to the point. These are clearly people who value their time - after all, they are service providers who charge by the hour. For them, time is literally money.
But I think it goes one step further: Email makes the world spin, but it doesn't have to run our lives. Often times, you rely on email instead of talking to people -- even if they're just a few feet away. And talking face-to-face is simply a lost art. No one does it any more. Getting stuck in inbox hell is inevitable for most of you (unless you have services like Unroll.me or Sanebox). And it's hard to get out. You feel like nothing has been accomplished except excess face-time with the GMail logo. I don't want to lose my life to email, so I'm keeping my emails under 200 words.
1. Saves time
Writing long emails sucks. Over the past few months, it's taken me up to 30minutes to write an email. And I get distracted and bored. Plus, I edit it like it's a 7th grade social studies paper. By writing shorter, I don't have to think as hard and it saves a ton of time - especially when my inbox is up to my neck.
2. I'm considerate of your time
You have to read my emails. Shorter is always better. Because you know what? You have the same inbox hell I'm dealing with (And it's quite possibly worse). That's why I'm considerate of your time.
3. It's a practice in brevity
Great copywriting means eliminating words that don't need to be there. When you can say something in 100 words rather than 1,000, you'll get your message across loud and clear.
4. Email is a tool, not a full-time job
If I had to spend me entire week drowning in email, I'd slowly start to hate my life. Instead, I use email to get things done. I spend 30 minutes, twice a day, going through email. Sometimes, I don't have to use up the second 30-minute slot and I'm free to do something else. But, I check email less often than I used to.
5. I only have so much typing effort
Nathan Barry says to write 1,000 words a day. I've been writing 2,000-3,000 words a day across various projects. When you write several blog posts (like this one) daily, you're all typed out. That means when I enter my inbox, I'm not going to type a novel.
So, you're writing shorter emails? That's cool. How are you doing it?
Just get to the points. I want to know what the situation is, what you're having a problem with, and how I can help you solve that problem. Apply that system to your email - three simple steps: situation, problem, solution. And you may be asking for a solution, which means it's only two steps!
Keep your email to this simple framework and you'll write short, concise emails, every time.
What about you? Do you let email consume your life? Have you tried simply writing less