How I am Going to Cut Down Time Spent on Email in 2017

After the unpleasant (but not surprising) discovery that I spent 25% of my 2016 on communication (email, scheduling, calls, and social networking), I decided to spend an hour writing this blog post so I end up saving a lot more in 2017.

Now, as I noted in the previous article, I want to make it clear that I love communicating with people – but I believe (as per forever learning principle) that quantity does not equal quality. Thus, there are always ways to improve it – that is what I will try to do below;

Already Existing Optimizations for Communication (Email, Phone, and Social Networking)

Before I start slaying analyzing the time spent, I want to re-view what protocols I current follow;

With that said, lets look into how I can improve for 2017;

Improvements for 2017 to Reduce Time Spent on Email

For this part, I spent a week analyzing my automated behavior (or muscle memory) associated with communication so I can catch bad habits. As a result, I found the following problems and articulated their solutions;

Time Consuming ProblemTime Saving Solution
Passive Checking for New Email – PersonalCheck only between 8:30-9AM
Passive Checking for New Email – WorkCheck only at 10:15am and then at 4pm
Passive Checking for New Email (Mobile)ONLY check when Expecting something URGENT on the go
Going through "All" Emails Instead of "Inbox"NEVER Check "All" but only Inbox
Time it Takes to "Create" a New EmailCreate a Keyboard Shortcut for "Create" a new Email

In addition to the above improvements, I will be making the following improvements to how I write the email;

Template Improvements as to How I write Emails

Coincidentally, I had stumbled upon an article from HBR whose title says it all “How to Write Email with Military Precision” – so below is what I stole from it;

  • Using the following Keyword’s in Subject Line;
    • ACTION – Compulsory for the recipient to take some action
    • SIGN – Requires the signature of the recipient
    • INFO – For informational purposes only, and there is no response or action required
    • DECISION – Requires a decision by the recipient
    • REQUEST – Seeks permission or approval by the recipient
    • COORD – Coordination by or with the recipient is needed
  • Summary Line: As the first line of the email which should quickly answer the five W’s: who, what, where, when, and why.

As an eager experimenter, I sent an test email out to my co-workers with that template and here are the results;

Here is the initial email I sent;

To my surprise, I got a clear reply within minutes;


I am hoping the above optimizations will save me at least 20 minutes a day (121 Hours in 2017) – more importantly, the saved mental energy. Wow, that is a lot of time (and energy)– I wonder what I can accomplish in those hours? With that said, I hope this has been a useful read for you as much as it has been an insightful one for me to write!

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