Why I deleted your email

CC BY 2.0 Card Karma

I think everyone can probably agree that email has gotten kinda out of hand, right? I mean, how many emails did you get today?

Me, I got a few hundred, and that’s after the spam filters.

Between personal email, business email, and several client email accounts, 150-500 emails per day is pretty normal for me. (It actually used to be double that. I’ve systematically unsubscribed myself from about a thousand notification services and newsletters that somehow got my email address.) I also get a few direct messages per day on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc., many of them work-related inquiries.

I’m not complaining, there are people who have it way worse than I do. I’m just setting the stage to explain that certain behaviors don’t scale to that kind of daily volume with the time I have available at my email inbox. Here are a few:

  1. Responding to every email request
  2. Opening emails with “RE: RE: RE:” (or worse) in the the subject line
  3. Opening emails with no subject line
  4. Opening emails with an attachment that I didn’t specifically ask for
  5. Reading emails with more than 250 words
  6. Reading emails with more than 5 or 6 bullets
  7. Reading emails in which I was BCC’d
  8. Responding to vague or confusing requests
  9. Responding to emails with more than 3 typos or that misspell my name
  10. Responding to emails that are more than a month old

That last part is my issue, not yours. But I want you to know that if you are waiting more than a month to hear back from me, you won’t. Maybe I got flooded with other emails, or maybe I’m just under a pressing deadline. But if you want to hear from me, you’ll have to try again.

I’m sorry if you find this troublesome or if your precious email got swept up in one of those traps. Keep in mind some of the things above are set as automatic filters, meaning they go directly to the trash without me ever even knowing about them. For instance, after 30 days of sitting unreplied in my inbox, your email got archived right out from under me.

It’s nothing personal, really. I just have stuff I want to get done in life, and spending more time in my inbox doesn’t get me any closer to getting that important stuff done.

Although, if I sent you the link to this blog post, it probably IS personal. That email you just sent me? Yeah, don’t do that. But please do try again! Here’s what you can do with your next email to me:

  • Say what you want from me Say it briefly in your subject line, say it as detailed as you can at the bottom of your email
  • Make it 100 words or less If you need more than that, then you should probably request a conversation.
  • If you want to talk, suggest 3 specific times I don’t know if I will be available at any of the times you suggest, but asking me when I’m available will get you nowhere. I have to cross-reference 3 entirely different calendar applications to answer your specific question. Adding the complexity of me guessing what times you might have available based on your timezone and work habits just ain’t gonna happen. Something like “How about we meet on skype next Tuesday at noon Pacific or after 5pm? Or maybe before 9am on Wednesday?” that works for me. I know exactly how to answer that question, so chances are that I will do so quickly.

Thanks for your understanding about this email response policy. If you don’t like it, feel free to email me with 3 times you’re available to discuss it 😉