Get Your Email Answered

Letters from Friends I’ve evidently written about this before, but I have more to say. You see, I’m in my office on a Saturday trying to wade through the several hundred emails from really important people who have really interesting things they want to do with me. Each one of them matters a lot. And yet, I only have so many hours in a day. I’m sneaking into my office on a SATURDAY to try and get some emails back out to people. That’s where I am with things. You are, too. We all have too many messages fighting for our time.

I was thinking about what makes me choose to answer an email faster than another email. Here’s what I’ve noticed.

User Interface Matters

People who email me short numbered lists (or bullets) get much better responses from me, much faster, because I know what they want, and it’s succinct.

Single Use Email

People who put one need, one subject, one topic in an email get much faster responses, because I can handle it.

Repeat Performers

People who resend mail but don’t make me feel guilty rise to the top because I feel guilty anyhow, and I respond as quickly as possible. I don’t really want to encourage you to refill my inbox, but it’s true.

Direct and Obvious

People who send vague requests get no replies. I just can’t be bothered to guess what you’re asking for. Those who send something very obvious and direct about what they want get my time.

The Rest

Finally, what I see more often than not are emails where people just want to help. “If I can help you in any way, just let me know.” Here’s the thing. I never know how to respond to those. No one really ever does. Because normally when one goes seeking help, it’s when they’re ready to get something back for their request. General offers show a very positive sentiment, but they don’t show any kind of return loop, if that makes sense.

So, if you want your email answered, those are some tips.

Any tips you’d give me and the gang in the comments section?

And if I owe you a reply, read the above and let me know if you think you’ve done well by that list.

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