January 29th, 2010 | Published in Technology
Years ago a friend of mine forwarded an email to me from the editor of a popular magazine with this comment:
Isn’t it interesting that the editor—the head honcho!—of ______ would write like this!
This was the editor’s email he was referring to:
hi _____, thnx. we love Thomas too. if u want to pitch our literary editor on a review, he’s at __________…
I remember being amused and thinking it was a symbol of our cultural and linguistic decline.
That was five years ago. Now I have a more practical perspective on his email — he was just a busy guy, trying to get as much done as possible.
I’ve been thinking about this because over the past year, and more so in the past six months, I’ve gotten very busy. Starting Rainsong Media was a big step for me professionally, and a few months later I also founded Beacon Ad Network with a partner. Add a few other projects on the side, and you have a recipe for busyness like I’d never experienced before.
So what do you do when you have a couple hundred emails to go through every few days? If you want to actually get things done, you have three options as I see it:
Most of us do not have time to respond to a couple hundred emails with a polished response — if we did, we’d never get anything else done. And even if we hire someone to handle our emails, there will still be many to respond to ourselves.
And that’s where shorthand comes in. Instead of taking 3-10 minutes to answer an email, you can answer it in 30 seconds.
Say you dedicate 2 hours a day to email. Look at the productivity differences:
That’s a 500% productivity increase.
There will always be emails that need thoughtful, polished responses. But most of our emails don’t — they are simply information requests that can be answered quickly in shorthand.
So shorthand isn’t a symbol of cultural decline or of lesser intellect. Let’s drop our elitist attitudes. For many of us, it’s just a sign of busyness and a desire to get things done.