Emails may be the bane of our existence, but today let’s take measures to make sure our emails aren’t the bane of everyone else’s!
How long are your emails?
Not sure? Head over to your sent mail and scan through your last twenty.
Are your messages succinct and to the point? …Or are they a series of small essays?
If you’re used to writing long passages, rethink your approach. An email should relay information quickly: an update, a question, an answer, specific information in easy-to-read bites. No one really has time for much more.
A while back I came across the concept of limiting emails to five sentences or less. In fact there’s a link for this discipline. It acts as an email policy and includes text to add to your email signature.
Check out the link here: five.sentenc.es. You’ll notice there are even versions for two-, three- and four-sentences!
Now, I haven’t exactly copied and pasted the five.sentenc.es text into my email signature (yet!), but I have worked on keeping my emails to five sentences or less. It’s taken me a while to dial it in, admittedly, but oh the difference it has made.
How could you benefit with a ‘Five Sentence Or Less Email Policy’? Here are but five reasons:
1. Greater chance of our emails being read. This is coming from someone who has sent some pretty epic emails. But sitting on the receiving end, the first thing I want to do when I see epic text is ‘come back to it later’. How about you? The shorter our email message, the greater chance the recipient will read the email in full, there and then.
2. Greater chance of a timely response. This point acts in concert with the one above. The problem with emails that are too long is that they can be convoluted with too much information. The recipient won’t want to deal with the info overload, and may thus delay response time. Whereas, when your request is clear and stated in a few lines, the recipient will be more inclined to fire back a quick reply.
3. Laser focus enhancer. Think of the five sentence or less policy like a built-in Twitter character counter. Knowing we only have a few sentences to relay the purpose of our message forces us to get to the point. In doing so we cut through the filler and focus on what is truly important. Not a bad habit to acquire, and an effective skill to up our productivity.
4. Save time, improve efficiency. It may take some time getting used to whittling our novellas down to a mere couple of sentences, but consider the time savings in the long-run. If we’re crafting lengthy replies we’re eating through valuable time. Quick response saves us processing time so we can get through as many emails that warrant a reply, in the least amount of time possible.
5. Respect to the recipient. I love a short email, don’t you? I’d wager we all do. When we’ve made the effort to present our information in a clear concise format, no more than five sentences in length, we’ve done our recipient a great favour. A few sentences – even one if that’s all that’s required – is a show of respect for everyone’s time and won’t go unnoticed.
I don’t know about you, but when I receive an email that’s beautifully succinct, I naturally feel inclined to respond the same way.
Commit today to composing or responding to every email in five sentences or less.
What difference will this make to your daily productivity? What other benefits would you add?
Now…if only I could finagle a blog in five sentences or less!