It takes me until mid-day to clear my inbox. I type fast, act decisively, and maintain inbox zero. My problem is that I worry about being clear and polite.
These are bad impulses. I respond to things I shouldn’t. I choose words too carefully. I even use emoticons to avoid seeming snarky. (My hunch is that you have an equally unhealthy relationship with email.)
To lead a deliberate life, we need to overcome these instincts. Let’s admit it: few of us have such an abundance of time that we should be word-smithing these messages.
Were it productive work, fine, but our collectively-held email habit is getting in the way, and begs to be addressed. So, I’m calling it quits today, proposing a more sane course of action, and sharing it with you.
If you’re tired of email sucking the life out of your day, I ask you to place the following text in your email signature. It will help explain why your responses have become more brief, and perhaps encourage others follow suit:
Join the Single Sentence Email Project: http://gu.nu/w3H
Then, concentrate on learning a new habit: brevity. Respond to emails with as few words as possible. Aim for a sentence, but if just a word will do, use it.* It will take practice, and some might dislike it. I argue that this is a fair trade for getting more time to work (and live) productively.
* Mom, I’ll still send you emails that are longer than a sentence.