What do emails and tennis have in common?
When I play tennis, I have rules that I follow. I love rules, well, self-imposed rules, that is. They keep me (most of the time) from making bad decisions I might otherwise make. When I am losing in tennis, my rule is “Just get it back, let them try to change direction or go for a winning shot.” Statistically, I believe the odds are in my favor that I will win the point (at my level) because I’m not going for the riskier shot. I’m counting on my patience to beat them when their impatience kicks in. So in tennis, long rallies are good.
When it comes to emails, “long rallies” are not so good and patience is not helpful. Emails are arguable the biggest time-suck we face on any given day. They account for, on average, 13 hours of our work week, they lower our IQ, and they make us less efficient. So, how can we get better at emails? Eliminate the long rallies! From your end, make every attempt to end the rally as quickly as possible. Which in the beginning, may require more time from you.
Look at every email and ask yourself: What NEEDS to be in this email so I can end it now? Things like, “When are you available” is the kiss of death! UGH! Stop that right now! Try this: “I’m free Tuesday from 9-12, will 9 am work for you?” If you want some of your time back, look to end every email that comes your way. Be a closer! The long rallies of emails back and forth are a big waste of your time. Time is incredibly precious and it is not something we should be mindlessly squandering.