By December 3, 2014 Read More →

The case for shorter emails

The case for shorter emails

Making life easier with shorter emails

A couple of years ago I wrote a post about short emails.

I mentioned that I try to write quicker and shorter emails by dispensing with greetings and sign-offs in an exchange of emails, and simply providing the information required.

I wasn’t suggesting starting a correspondence in this way. It would be a bit like walking up to a stranger and just asking them a question without any introduction! I was surprised that some people thought it was rude not to use a greeting and sign-off in every single email.

Two years later we are even more overwhelmed with online information than ever, so I thought I’d raise the subject of shorter emails again, to find out if views have changed.

In the intervening time I’ve never received an email using the policy I found on treating email like tweets, but using a certain number of sentences instead of counting characters. The site (actually, and appropriately, a single page!) five.sentenc.es provides some text to copy and paste into your emails:

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

And there are similar pages and text for two.sentenc.es, three.sentenc.es, and four.sentenc.es.

I’ve never quite dared to adopt this myself, although I do still abandon greetings and sign-offs once an email conversation is underway. I do, however, use the person’s name to personalise my reply. For example, ‘Thank you, John, that’s very helpful information. I’ll get back to you in the next couple of days with an answer.’

Would you prefer to get shorter emails and know you could send a brief response without causing offence? Would it make your life easier? Or do you regard it as just another way technology is dehumanising the way we relate to each other?

Posted in: Routine

2 Comments on "The case for shorter emails"

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  1. Becky says:

    On the contrary, this idea is actually rehumanising. You don’t introduce yourself everyone you start a new sentence. I think I might adopt this.

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