Set a Timer Before Sending Email

If you’re having trouble writing and replying to emails, here’s a simple trick: set a timer for three minutes. Now write this whole letter before the time is up.

You are not allowed to write for more than three minutes. In fact, if you want to write anything else, you have to wait until tomorrow and do another three minutes. How about shutting down before three minutes have elapsed? It seems to be easier.

(Set a timer on your phone, or search for “set a three-minute timer,” and Google will run it for you.)

This will accomplish two goals. You don’t waste too much time in email. And you stop being too intimidated to start. You can survive three minutes of writing an email.

The duration of the timer is up to you. Fast Company recommends setting a 5 minute timer , but we think this is still too much. If you have to burn through a large mailbox, half an hour of email is just six 5-minute emails, or ten 3-minute emails.

If three minutes doesn’t really work, increase to five. But not higher. If the email isn’t really sent in five minutes, you’ll have to leave before tomorrow. Or pick up the phone instead.

Or, as Fast Company suggests, try switching to a non-email format like Google Docs:

If you think it will take more than five minutes to write, your email is probably not email. This is likely a memo sent by email, or a compelling essay that starts with the words “Hello.”


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