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;
- Mobile and Desktop Notifications Turned Off: I have turned off all notifications on my desktop and mobile for email as part of an experiment last year.
- Filtered Inboxes – Only important email gets to my inbox while others get filtered. I update my filters whenever I find a spam email sneak into my inbox.
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 Problem||Time Saving Solution|
|Passive Checking for New Email – Personal||Check only between 8:30-9AM|
|Passive Checking for New Email – Work||Check 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 Email||Create 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!