In defense of long emails

Write short emails — preferably a few sentences maximum with clear expectations. People get hundreds of emails everyday and in an ADD world, nobody reads anymore. Apparently.

At least that’s what you’re being told.

Time. Man, is time precious. Who has time to read your 3 paragraphs email? 3 pa-ra-gra-phs. Can you just get straight to the point? Is there really anything these days that can’t be summarized in one sentence?

Let’s waste half of our week in meetings, but screw you, long email writer. Nobody has time for your emails.

I know, you took the time to fully structure your thoughts, every word is carefully chosen and it’s really all I need, but you know what? That’s too much for me to handle. It almost feels like you care.

Care, that’s it. I guess that’s why I don’t mind long emails.

A long, unstructured email is just garbage, as it often reflect a rushed message without a clear line of thought. But a well structured email with a clear line of thought, send more my way anytime.

Not everything can be summarized in a sentence or two. And even when people think they can summarize in a sentence, they miss a whole lot. You just get black and white messages, while the value is often in the grey zone.

Not every phone conversation is more efficient. I know, writing an email may take more time than just picking up the phone, but conversations don’t magically end up in a searchable transcript. I get that with email — a trace of a conversion, an idea, or some tasks. So we forget, and then we have to schedule another call or meeting about the same subject because we just forgot about half of the things we said. Of course, we’ll apologize for forgetting — “sorry, I have so much to remember that I seem to forget some details here and there”.

We have so much to remember because one sentence emails don’t say much. They’re not good at keeping traces. Email threads are incredibly good at that.

Our minds are too busy remembering every details of every conversations and meetings we had that it can’t focus on what matters — creating value through clear, creative thinking. Ideas need some quiet time, that’s how they grow. There’s no need to go over again why you get so many brilliant ideas in the shower, right?

When we share coherent, detailed messages, whether it’s through email or your favorite project management software, it frees our minds from having to remember useless details. It’s always there to be found later on.

Plus, try writing a detailed and clear-focused email. You’ll me amazed at how beneficial it is to clarify your thoughts on a subject. Writing is good for the mind.