In Productivity & Organization, Writing for developers

Most of us need to communicate via email, be it for work or our private lives, and some of us tend to overcomplicate the whole matter and waste our time.
I am no exception and recently recognized how much time I spend writing emails!
So I thought about a few things which would help to write emails faster and also integrated them into my work day.

I’ve prepared five tips for you, which worked best for me. At the end you’ll find the sixth tip—let’s not talk about this one yet because I know some of you will not like it ;).

Have a tidy folder system in place

This tip doesn’t only assist you with saving time while writing emails but is also handy throughout your working days!

Set up logical and intuitive folder structures so you can find documents you want to add to your emails with ease. How many minutes do you think you spend on searching for something on your computer per day? It’s probably more than you realize.

Also, it’s advisable to give your documents meaningful names as you save them on your system. Your future you will thank you ;).
Save some time by not having to look through every untitled document you have but instead get what you want in an instant.

Keep in mind that if you want to send a document to your clients, you should give it a name which is also understandable for them.
For example, instead of creating a file named ‘my-resume.pdf’ make it ‘your-last-name-resume’ or something like that. When you send this file as an attachment, you don’t need to rename it every time beforehand.

Create templates for repeating topics

As a developer you sure love to cut redundant tasks, so you’re going to like this one!
You certainly have to write emails with the same content on a weekly or even daily basis. Think about how much time you could save by creating templates for them! Of course, you need to adapt them before sending out, but being prepared is still more efficient than building everything from scratch.

If you need some inspiration, I have some ideas for you. You could create templates for:

  • sending offers and invoices
  • fixating appointments
  • asking about mailed proposals
  • sending a follow-up email after you got a business card on an event
  • asking if the person has news for you

Make sure to save your templates at a place you can access from your phone or tablet. You should be able to use those templates even when you’re not in front of your computer.

Work through your emails at specific timeslots

If it isn’t necessary to look at every email as soon as they land in your inbox, try to work through them once or twice per day.
Emails distract you from your work and vice versa. When you plan your time wisely, it’s easier to focus on the task at hand—be it programming or writing emails.

Additionally, you often get more comfortable when you work on specific tasks for a more extended period. If you switch between coding and writing every thirty minutes, you won’t get into a flow and thus get less work done. Which means, if you work through and answer your emails for, let’s say an hour, you will get used to it and write emails faster!

Time is precious! A man shows his watch.

Photo by Mitchell Hollander on Unsplash

Writing emails in English when you’re not a native speaker can cost you some time if you’re insecure about your writing skills. Head over to read about the 4 common mistakes made by German speakers in English and how to fix them.

Set up a system for structuring and writing emails

Long and complicated emails with lots of different contents can be tricky to write. Therefore, you need to think about where you put what and in which format before you start writing.
Topics need to be in a logical and understandable order, try to create lists wherever possible, and maybe use subheading to make your structure visible.

Why does this make you write emails faster?
You’re going to know what you’re doing! If you find that you should have written a list after you’ve already written your email, you’ll need to rewrite and restructure everything.

Also, use a bold or colored font to accentuate essential phrases in your emails. Highlighting helps your reader and even yourself to see the crucial points immediately. If you need to reread this email in the future, you won’t need to go through the whole content and can focus on the emphasized passages instead.

Organize your email application

If you like a tidy workplace, this is a must-do for you:
Delete emails you won’t need in the future and archive the important ones you already worked through.
Create folders for your clients, accountant, bills, personal stuff, etc. Every email you get must go into one of your folders or the trash. Also, do this immediately after you worked through an email, not only once a year!

If it’s too early too archive or delete an email, move it to a folder titled ‘Todo’ or ‘important.’ You’ll know exactly which emails still need your attention and what you have to do. Plus, if you work with Gmail for example, copy and paste the email’s URL into your to-do list or notes, to quickly gain access to it.

Need to find an email a specific client sent you two weeks ago? No problem—easily found within your orderly mail application!

Let’s get more efficient to save time

I’m sure we can come up with even more ways to speed up our email workflow, and I’ll gladly share more tips if I any come up.
You know the saying: There’s always room for improvement!

Imagine what you could do if you could save half an hour every day! More time for your projects, family, reading or other hobbies await you.

Maybe the best tip of them all but no one likes it

Need to write a very long and super complicated email? Now, here’s a good tip to write emails faster:

Take your phone and call the person!

If you’re like me, you’re now frowning at the thought of calling someone. Welcome to the club!
But we have to admit that this can be much more efficient.
We somehow need to overcome our fear of social interaction via telecommunications ;). Just don’t ask me how … (yet).

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