I spend way too much time on email. It’s one of the biggest time consumers in my day-to-day life. I often talk about email with my students and my expectations for how they use email, but I realize that many of my colleagues and others could also benefit from some simple email rules.
The first thing I go over with my students is the Save Our Inboxes Email Charter:
I think this simple set of rules helps streamline the amount of emails we receive and send and also reduces the amount of time spent on email.
The other email time-saving technique I discuss is five.sentenc.es, which is described as “a personal policy that all email responses regardless of recipient or subject will be five sentences or less.” Five.sentenc.es suggests adding a disclaimer to your email signature explaining the five sentence policy.
Another trick I use, which is sneaky on my part, is to make my normal email signature read “as if” it were coming from my phone or tablet so people aren’t upset at the brevity of the email and are less inclined to have a lengthy response. I have a cute signature for my smartphone’s Gmail signature — “Sent from a small phone and fat fingers” — which does the trick when used as my normal email signature.