Are you one of those people who stresses out over every single business email you compose?
If so, you’re in similarly neurotic company here in this editorial space.
Yes, spending 10 minutes composing what should be a quick business email is neurotic. It’s unbalanced professionally. It’s unbalanced from a time management perspective. And it’s unbalanced emotionally.
This is something I’ve been realizing more and more over the last couple months considering how much time I spend working on every aspect of my business emails. My editorial or OCD or perfectionist brain – whatever you want to call it – outright obsesses over questions like:
Am I using the right words to convey my message?
Is there any even infinitesimally small way my words might be misconstrued?
How many times did I start out a sentence with “I”?
Are the paragraphs too long so that words get lost in them?
Are the paragraphs too short so that they seem stilted?
How about transitions between those paragraphs?
I started off sentences with “As for” again, didn’t I? I always do that. I’m too obsessed with transitions! How can I rephrase “as for” so that it still flows smoothly?
There’s more where that came from, but I won’t bother to list it off. If you’re not neurotic about your business emails, you doubtlessly get the point. And if you are neurotic about them, then you can easily fill in what I left off.
All for something the recipient is going to spend 60 seconds or less looking over.
Sounds rather silly when it’s put like that, doesn’t it?
It sounds even sillier considering how, I don’t know about you, but I often make mistakes in my business emails anyway, either because:
I’ve spent so much time writing them that I just don’t have the energy to do even the briefest editorial read-throughs afterward.
I do edit them, only to overthink and over-edit and generally just turn my originally perfectly acceptable presentation into a jumbled mess.
This has to stop.
One way is to simply set a timer. Allot a certain amount of time you’re allowed to compose your business email, edit it and send it – no excuses allowed!
Since every business email you send is going to be different, of course, feel free to vary the amount of time you allot. Just don’t get crazy.
For example, let’s say I have a client who’s asking some detailed questions about the edits I sent him. In that case, a reply might take a non-neurotic 10 minutes to think through, write out and look over. Possibly even 12.
But if I’m going anything over 15, that’s more than likely unacceptable.
Fifteen minutes should be the maximum in most business email situations, for that matter. Most should take a mere five or less to send out. And that holds true whether you’re schmoozing up to the boss or wooing new clients.
Otherwise, you’re going to be unbalanced professionally. Unbalanced from a time management perspective. And unbalanced emotionally.
Which, for the record, is neurotic. And neurotic in any situation, much less when composing business emails, isn’t a good thing.