Monday, February 23, 2015

How to write me an email (and get a response)

My inbox has as many mails as the night sky has stars. That's why I did not respond to your mail. Not because I didn't want to and not because I didn't like you. I'd love to be able to hit that reply button right after I read your mail. Could you please help me with this? Below are some tips.
  1. Write short. Response time is approximately proportional to mail length. This includes any attachments to your mail.
  2. State your request clearly. What do you want an answer to? Make it easy to answer your request. Best case: a yes/no question.
  3. Skip the formality. Skip the boilerplate. "Hi Julian" is a good start, your name is a good way to finish the mail. Everything in between should be unique.
  4. Do tell me how your day was if you feel like it. If I know you, I care about you and appreciate you telling me. Don't ask me how my day was. I will feel I need to reply and it will take me longer. It's also perfectly fine to not tell me how your day was.
  5. If the purpose of your mail is general chitchat, maybe we should talk on the phone instead.
  6. Don't be rude. Your email deserves an answer, unless you tell me explicitly that it deserves an answer.
  7. If I don't answer within a few days, do send me a reminder in the same mail thread. See if you can state your request more succinctly in your reminder.
  8. Don't contact me on Facebook, SMS, Skype or similar with the same request as your mail. These services don't provide an overview of outstanding messages and I therefore don't treat them as a task list. Your message will be lost in cyberspace.
I'm aware that this post may make me sound like a self-important and condescending person. I really hope I am not. I'm just someone who want to spend less time reading and writing emails, and avoid making people angry because I don't respond to their emails. I guess you want the same.

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