Three reasons why you aren't sending *that* email
I’m about to go all Seinfeld on you.
What’s the deal with people NOT sending emails? I mean, you sit down at your computer, you click on Compose Email, you start writing, you spend two hours trying to find the right words, you spend another two hours questioning whether those are really the right words, and then…you never hit send.
What’s the deal with that?!
You’ve been there, right? You’ve tried to send an email – maybe it was an everyday kind of email just responding to a client’s questions or maybe it was an email you’ve been dreading, like telling someone thanks but no thanks you think they’d be pretty awful to work with – and it just never seems to happen.
Here’s the dealio: Writing emails isn’t always easy. Sure, sure, they’re a quick way to communicate in our hyper-connected society, and it’s super easy to be an asshat wearing a polka dot ascot when you’re hiding behind a computer.
But sometimes it feels damn near impossible to send an email, especially the way you’re doing it right now.
Let’s break down your current approach, shall we? We shall.
You see an email you need to respond to. You read it and then you see another email you need to respond to. So you read it. Before you know it, you’ve read six emails that all need a response. So you shut down your email. Better to ignore them for the time being.
You then go back to your computer a day or two later to address those emails. (Yeah, I see you.) First, you have to reread them because now you can’t remember what the other person was even asking. Then, you have to mentally draft a response before you can even start typing a response. Once you start typing, you start retyping. And…suddenly, an hour’s gone by and you’re still hunt-and-pecking away at that first email.
A little more time goes by. You’ve moved on to the second email. Even though the request is oddly similar to the first email you just banged out (although…a one email an hour average probably doesn’t qualify as “banging it out”), you start drafting a response in your head because it always sounds better in your head. Then, you start typing and retyping until another hour has gone by.
At this rate, it’s going to take you all day to get through your inbox. Which is probably why, when you look at how much time you’re spending on email, it’s one of the biggest time sucks in your schedule.
(I remember reading something a while back – here I go with the reading stuff again *eye roll* – about a creative entrepreneur who got curious like George about how much time she spent in her inbox. After tracking her time for a couple of weeks, she realized she spent a third of her time on email. A third! That’s like, if you’re working six hours a day, two whole hours on email.)
This little inbox dance you’ve got going on isn’t working because:
You’re wasting time reading and then rereading emails.
You start from scratch EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.
You’re constantly second guessing what you’re writing.
Listen, friend, if you want to spend less time on emails, there’s a few things you’ve gotta do.
Systematize that shit
I’m admittedly not a systems guru, but, when you’re looking to save time, you’ve gotta start making the heart-eyed emojis at systems.
Maybe this means designating official “email hours” where you only check and respond to emails between, say, 8 and 9:30 a.m. (Monday through Friday – don’t get any crazy ideas about using your weekends to catch up on emails.) Maybe this means handling an email once – no more reading then marking as unread so you can come back to it later and reread it again. It could even mean setting boundaries around what emails get priority status and which ones can actually flounder for a few days.
Bonus points if you use Gmail or your CRM to help the process. (More on that below. 😉)
Stop reinventing the wheel
Back when I worked in corporate, we had what we called “boilerplate” text – essentially text that we used over and over again because we were constantly answering the same questions: When was your firm founded? How many employees do you have? What’s your litigation history?
Riveting stuff, but also a HUGE time saver. Instead of constantly rewriting the same paragraph about how many engineers we had in what disciplines and with how many years of experience, we just copied and pasted and then tweaked to meet our needs.
You can totally do the same with your emails. Because I’m pretty sure you’re sending out the same kind of emails. Like:
The email you send with a proposal
The email you send with your contract
A response to an inquiry to work with you
An appointment confirmation
An appointment reminder
An appointment thank you
A payment reminder
A past due payment reminder
An email asking for a testimonial
An email asking for a referral
A follow up when your lead disappears
An email you send with your guest post or podcast interview pitches
And on and on and on…emails all the freakin’ time.
Make a shell email. Leave out some of the details you’ll customize each time you send it (you know, your client’s name, the project, the name of the blog you’re pitching…) And then start from there. Not from scratch.
Make a freakin’ plan already
I don’t know about you, but one of the reasons I struggle to send emails sometimes is I just don’t know when to send them.
When do I look like an overeager Girl Scout peddling my cookies so I can get that coveted badge? When do I look like I totally forgot to respond to your email and now I’m trying to cover my tracks? At what point do I follow up without crossing the line into harassment? How many days past that payment due date should I start demanding my money?
To strike the right balance between excited and crazy, I’ve mapped out when I send my emails. It feels comfy cozy (like the three sweaters I’m wearing right now) and saves me all the fretting and frittering I’d otherwise be doing if I were freewheeling.
For example, I know that, if I don’t hear from someone after a consult call, I’ll send a reminder in a week. Maybe for you, it’s three days later. Maybe some interwebs email guru has conducted an extensive social experiment and determined that the ideal time to send an initial follow-up email is exactly 4.39 days.
(Good luck figuring that out.)
As long as you know when you’re going to send your emails and you stick to the plan, Stan (not to be confused with stanning, which I totally just learned the meaning of a couple weeks ago, even though I was a kid when the song that apparently spawned that newfangled term came out), it’s all good.
And about using Gmail or your CRM…please do. Once you’ve landed on your templates, load them up. Gmails got a handy Canned Responses feature, and Dubsado (my preferred CRM, ahem, affiliate link) has Canned Emails in their Templates menu.
In addition to all the beautiful, bountiful minutes and hours you’ll get back from having these templates and a plan, you’ll also save time by having them at the ready. Instead of, you know, looking for them in another email you sent or hunting them down on your hard drive because you’re pretty sure you have an Emails folder somewhere…
Now, if any of that sounds overwhelming and scary and like you still don’t have time for it, I hear you. And hear this: I’ve thoughtfully prepared a first step for you. Templates with Personality is designed to help you stop wasting time on emails, actually send them, AND not sound boring in the process. Cuz you know how I said that starting from scratch doesn’t work? These templates will totally fix that. Grab ‘em (and use ‘em) right here.