Ten Steps to Success: Getting Fewer Emails

Ten Steps to Success: Getting Fewer Emails

There are certain job titles that include words like “coordinator” and “director” and “doormat” that ensure that you receive a crap-ton of emails. Perhaps you’ve thought to yourself, “I wish there was a practical way I could cut down on the volume of email I receive! How will I ever get myself out of this mess?! Is there some redheaded goddess out there who might be able to help me?!” Don’t worry. I’m here.*

  1. Incorporate excessive punctuation when emailing coworkers to ask for anything you may need, whether it’s a substantial need or a very minor need. You might feel inclined to type something cheerful like, “Happy Friday! Can you please give me an update on the documents you’re preparing for me? There’s no rush. Just checking in. Thanks!” But that friendly attitude is why you get so many damn emails, sucker! Instead, demand to know, “Are the documents ready yet???!!!” This line of aggressive questioning offends people and makes them not want to email you when they need things.
  2. Experiment with the aforementioned excessive punctuation. Push people to blow past feeling vaguely offended and urge them to explore new levels of annoyance with you. For instance, when a statement calls for a single period, choose to go with four question marks instead. Say, “I’m very busy filing right now???” And “You told me you were off today??????” Annoyance is a great deterrent, so be creative!
  3. Pit people against each other. If your coworker Jane emails you something sensitive in nature, such as a complaint about Joe taking forever to get her something she needs, reply and add Joe and all of his superiors to the CC list. In the email’s body, say something that appears to be helpful, like, “Joe, can you help Jane resolve this?” No one can really get mad at you for trying to facilitate office communication, but IRL what you did is annoying as hell and Jane will probably never email you again. Neither will Joe. Or Joe’s superiors.
    A photo I took of Jane the other day
  4. Has your email volume decreased yet? Not enough to suit you? Ugh, you’re so needy. Okay, time for the big guns.
  5. Always, always choose ‘reply all.’ A more sure-fire and simple email-reducer there never was.
  6. Select ‘request read receipt’ on every email you send, even if it’s something mundane. This will make you come across as a self-important ass. Don’t ever wonder if you should… you should. Even when someone asks you a simple yes or no question, and your reply contains a single word, just go on ahead and request that read receipt. People will start to avoid opening your emails, and subsequently reply to you less and less.
  7. End each and every email with “I will call to discuss,” no matter how straightforward your email was. For example, email Joe and say, “Someone left a letter on my desk, but it’s for you, not me. I will call to discuss.” And then either a) never call them, effectively ruining their day because they’ve been sitting there dreading your call because they’re starting to hate you, or b) call them 2 seconds after you send the email, ensuring that they haven’t had a chance to read it.
    How you want people to react when they realize they have to email you for something
  8. Abbreviate words that are already very easy to type, such as transforming “Thanks” to “Thx” or even worse, “Tks.” In fact, remove letters from already-short words anytime you feel inspired to do so. Reply to emails with things like, “Trd to call to dscss. Pls call me bck whn pssble, tks.” People who get emails like this will become so physically ill trying to decipher what you’re saying that they will avoid emailing you whenever they can.
  9. When people email you three or four simple questions within one email, answer just one of them, and then never respond to any emails that person sends you again. Even better, reply with just “No.” For example, say you get an email that asks you if you followed up with Jane on the due date for that client’s document, what the due date was, and if Joe had any concerns about Section 3A. You should reply simply, “no.” Bonus If you reply, “no?????” Bonus bonus if you say “No??? Wll cll to dscss” and then never call.
  10. Reply to emails with passive-aggressive comments, or with vaguely hostile comments accompanied by a friendly emoticon. (This requires some practice, but you’re becoming an expert under my tutelage so I’m confident that you can handle it.) This is a great tactic because it makes people doubt themselves, and causes general confusion and stress that deters them from sending future emails. So when you get an email that says something like, “Hi there! I saw you’re on the phone. Can you please come by my office when you have a chance?” you should respond with, “As you saw, I’m on the phone :)” They’re all, “didn’t she see that I already acknowledged that she was on the phone?! Is she pissed? What’s with the emoticon? What does it all mean? Emailing her was a bad idea.” Yes. Yes it was.


How I wish I got all my correspondence
So how’s that inbox looking? Did you just see a tumbleweed blow by? Great! When people start to get pushy and email you again, which they will, just repeat a few of these tricks until they go away again. I would say email me and let me know how things are going for you, but I really hate when you do that.

*Items 1-10 above are really just as likely to increase your email volume, and also get you fired, so if I were you, I’d ignore this entire post and try a different list.

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