Leader Hacks – How to reduce e-mail time-suck

Leader Hacks is an ongoing series from The Reverend Blythe Cody. Here you will find ideas from experts in neuroscience, psychology, theology, time management and organisation, communication, technology, and education. In this series you will find leadership ideas and strategies that will make you a more effective, fruitful leader.

The average professional spends close to one-third of their workweek reading and responding to emails. By keeping your messages concise and reducing back and forth threads you can reclaim some of this time and increase the likelihood that your messages will get a quick response.

Every day you likely receive some variety of the following emails: those you never read and either immediately delete or send to inbox purgatory, those you stop reading halfway through (or sooner), those you read but don’t follow through on because they are too wordy and complicated, and finally those special ones that you immediately reply to.

You want your emails to be the ones that people want to immediately reply to, so the first step is to make your message concise. A concise message is likely to bring you the best results for these three reasons:

  1. People are more likely to actually read a clear and concise message.

All the necessary information can be absorbed efficiently.

  1. People are more likely to respond to a concise message

A concise message gives the impression that the task you are requesting is also concise so not overly time-consuming, prompting a quick response.

  1. Concise messages save the reader time.

Pretty self-explanatory.

Readers often interpret the length of a message as an indication of how difficult and time-consuming it will be to respond to.

The second step is to create an email protocol that will discipline you to identify the goal of your message and an efficient process (‘one and done’) for accomplishing the goal.

Even a short email can be a time suck if it takes multiple back and forth messages to reach the actual goal of the thread.


Kia ora _____

I would like to catch up with you this week about the project.

Here are three days and times that work for me. If any of these work for you let me know and we can meet at this zoom link:

If none of these work, reply with some days and times that work for you and I’ll choose one.


Option 1

Option 2

Option 3

Nga Manaakitanga


Your goal is to optimize your email for readability and scanability and give the recipient a simple way to give you the answer you need in one response.

You can read more leader hacks here