The Most Efficient Way to Respond to Email

  • Read the email carefully.
  • Decide how much time you will need to reply, then set a timer to keep track of the amount of time you spent responding to this email.
  • Highlight questions that require an answer (hit ‘Reply’ then you can highlight, underline or list them separately).
  • Reply as a ROUGH DRAFT –  This draft IS NOT TO BE SENT!
    • Answer only the questions you highlighted
    • Do not worry about grammar, spelling or redundancy in this ‘sloppy copy’
    • Do not edit anything you write until you have completed your entire rough draft
  • Pause for a few seconds.  Look away.
  • Read the draft – out load, if possible.
  • Look at each highlighted question and check that it was answered.
  • Now you should edit your response: (pretending that the other person has no patience/time to read your email)
    • Is it succinct and to the point? Eliminate as much as possible.
    • Cover only the topic of the incoming email. Do not add anything outside of the single topic. New topics should be in a new email with a new Subject line.
    •  Remove any extraneous words, thoughts or sentences. Edit ruthlessly but quickly.
    •  Check for spelling/grammatical errors and punctuation.
    •  Did you answer the questions in the best possible way, within time limitations?
    •  Add any *required* niceties.
  • What is the next step?  Is action required from the recipient or from you?  If so, clarify who needs to do what, and by when.
  • If you have any questions, make sure they are written clearly and concisely.
  • Hit ‘Send’
  • Turn off the timer.  Measure how long this took.

Harold Meyer and Susan Lasky are both Board Certified and Senior Certified ADHD Coaches.
To contact the authors: use the contact form.

Fine Print

ADD and ADHD are used interchangeably for Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder.

Any information or suggestions in this article are solely the opinion of the author(s) and should not replace the advice of appropriate medical, legal, therapeutic, financial or other professionals. We do not test or endorse any product, link, author, individual or service listed within.

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