One very cool email productivity tip

We all know that emails reproduce more quickly than rabbits. Send one, get one – or more. The easiest way then to stop wasting time is to stop sending so many emails.

I know…easier said than done. So try this “digital minimism” idea:

Instead of asking an open-ended question, suggest an answer:

  • Bad approach: Would you like to talk about this further?
  • Great approach: I’d like to suggest that we talk about this further. Is Tuesday at 3:oop (PDT) good or would Friday be better for you?


  • Bad approach; What do you think about this?
  • Great approach:  I think this can work. If you agree, please let me know and I’ll add it to the agenda for the staff meeting.

Yes, the recipient has to let you know something; they do have to respond.  But you’re not only managing connectedness, you’re eliminating a frustrating, non-productive email volley.

2 replies
  1. Michael Cortes
    Michael Cortes says:

    This reminds me of an old tip. I once heard it and I believe it would be considered a management, project management, or leadership tip.

    The approach is to provide an answer and then say “If I don’t hear from you, I will proceed with this.”

    As in your second example of Bad and great. The best would be: I think this can work. If you have any changes, please let me know by 11am Tuesday. Otherwise, I will put it on the agenda.

    I have heard that this might be considered to arrogant, but I do believe there are times when you are dealing with associates which will procrastinate you beyond your deadline.

  2. speakersue
    speakersue says:

    Thanks for your response, Michael. I like the leadership idea and I’d be really, really careful about saying that I’ll proceed if I don’t hear. When magazine companies did that a few years ago (“If we don’t hear from you, we’ll continue sending the magazines” kind of thing) it was deemed illegal. Kind of like opt-in with email. What if they never received the email and we proceed?
    It’s tough working with people who aren’t aligned with our agendas. It becomes up to us to help them see the reason why their response is needed and by when.


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