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Campaign for short emails

Would you prefer we all wrote short emails?

Work from Home Wisdom - short emailsI’ve been thinking about short emails lately. I’ve had some busy days when I couldn’t attend to emails, and the number that accumulated in my inbox seemed too overwhelming to even start to tackle.

And then A created a new account for me that I’ve managed to keep to zero, and I’d love to keep my main account like that. Which got me thinking that it would be so much easier to manage emails if I could respond in a much more abbreviated way than most people seem to do.

Maybe it’s my long Twitter habit that has made me want to be more sparing with words, but recently I’ve been getting bored with starting every email in a long correspondence with a greeting and then choosing a suitable sign-off.

It’s started to feel very old-fashioned in this day of rapid information exchange. I would rather just launch into the subject we’re discussing, and not bother with a sign-off, but some people might find that rude.

Then I spotted an article about short emails as I was surfing, and discovered people have been talking about this since way back when. I think 2007 was the date of the first article I read. I found a website – or appropriately, a single page, in fact – called five.sentenc.es, which suggests treating email responses like SMS messages, but instead of counting characters, count sentences. So ‘all email responses regardless of recipient or subject will be five sentences or less’.

And there are identical pages for two.sentenc.es, three.sentenc.es, and four.sentenc.es, all with a variation on the following text to copy and paste into your email:

Q: Why is this email five sentences or less?
A: http://five.sentenc.es

I’ve never seen this on any email, but I’m strongly tempted to use it, and hope it would also give me the freedom to dispense with greetings and sign-offs if I feel like it.

What is your view on short emails? Have you ever seen this kind of policy? Would you be offended? Would it make managing your emails easier if people applied it?

Posted in: Routine

About the Author:

Judy Heminsley is the founder and editor of Work from Home Wisdom. She believes in the benefits of home working for the individual, the family, the community and the planet. Judy set up one of the first Jelly groups in the UK and is the author of Work from Home (How to Books).

21 Comments on "Campaign for short emails"

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  1. Rosie Slosek says:

    I use short emails for people I already know. For people I don’t know – or people that prefer it – I use a longer one with greeting and sign-offs etc.
    Rosie Slosek invites you to read 3 reasons cake belongs with bookkeepingMy Profile

  2. My long use of Twitter (since 2008) has also impacted on the length of my communications Judy! Emails, blog posts and other articles are kept short & to the point.

    I don’t have time for fluff & flowery filling, but something is still getting in the way of dispensing with greeting and sign-off …
    Louise Barnes-Johnston invites you to read The Danger of Building a Business on Shifting SandsMy Profile

    • Judy says:

      I only do it when I’m continuing a conversation, usually just simple answers to questions. I wouldn’t begin a correspondence without a greeting!

  3. Kaitlyn says:

    I totally agree. Short, simple and to the point.
    One problem I often encounter with long emails is that people simply don’t read them – or they only read the top half or they scan it and pick out a few sentences. As a result I end up repeating myself via email, taking much longer than necessary.

    I have heard of some people going so far as to simply put the correspondence in the subject line – which is quite reminiscent of twitter.
    Kaitlyn invites you to read The Choices We HaveMy Profile

    • Judy says:

      I do the subject line thing with people I know well, Kaitlyn. Apparently you should put EOM (end of message) after the text, to indicate that’s all there is and no need to open the email.
      I think that needs to become more widely known before I extend the habit!

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