With my 30th birthday quickly approaching, I am working on defining and redefining my goals as well as a “30 Rules at 30” project, both of which I’m sure I’ll post here in some form or another.
So consider this post something of a small sneak preview of these two endeavors, because I already know what the subject of one of my goals and one of my rules will be: email.
One area of my life that I greatly want to improve is time management. I suspect that all of us, in one way or another, could stand to improve our ability to manage time in this era of constant distraction; and, quite likely, one of the most omnipresent distractions in your life (it certainly is in mine) is email.
As Chris Anderson and Jane Wulf of TED explain at EmailCharter.org, the problem of email is becoming more and more pervasive, centered around one general issue:
The average time taken to respond to an email is greater, in aggregate, than the time it took to create.
That might sound counter-intuitive, but read their explanation. It’s not.
What does email have to do with primilty? A lot, I say.
If I am planning to take pride in improving my time management skills moving forward, and I am, then it stands to reason that I should humbly seek out suggestions and advice on how to improve this one area that is consistently a bane and time drain of every day in my life. I know that many of you are nodding with me right now.
So here is the plan: first, I implore all of you to read the Email Charter. It’s simple and spot-on, and the more people that adopt these email strategies the better for all of us.
8. Give these Gifts: EOM NNTR
If your email message can be expressed in half a dozen words, just put it in the subject line, followed by EOM (= End of Message). This saves the recipient having to actually open the message. Ending a note with “No need to respond” or NNTR, is a wonderful act of generosity. Many acronyms confuse as much as help, but these two are golden and deserve wide adoption.
Second, it’s time to act.
I am going to start doing #8 immediately, and the Email Charter is filled with these reader-focused actions and objectives that will add up, little by little, to improving everyone’s email lives.
In fact, that’s what I love most about the Email Charter: it’s reader-focused; it’s selfless; it’s humble.
And here is where I tie it back to primility, because again pride and humility combine to form an effective roadmap for change.
If we are going to collectively take pride in making email a more pleasant and less time-consuming experience for everyone, then we need to be humble enough to a) learn the actual root of the problem, and b) willing to admit that we/I need to change and lead by example rather than simply demanding that others change to fit our desires.
Once we accept this, then we can humble ourselves before the Email Charter to learn it and the pridefully commit to putting it into action.
See? Primility. The concept that always fits.
So here is my pledge, which will affect anyone with whom I email: I am going to spend some time getting comfortable with these 10 tenets for email improvement and begin putting them into action. I’m sure it won’t be easy, and it certainly won’t be perfect, but little by little I am going to try my darndest to become a more reader-friendly emailer, and I hope that is I become more proficient that it will rub off consciously or subconsciously on the people I email.
If you agree that email can be improved, I hope you’ll join me. If we can affect change, it’ll just be primility at work again.