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;

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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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