Wednesday, 24 October 2007
Time commitment for e-mail
Interesting thought from the blogger Mike Davidson:
He writes: "More than any other medium in the world, the time commitment difference between sender and receiver is huge. For instance, if you call me on the phone and we chat for 10 minutes, that’s 10 minutes of your time and 10 minutes of my time. If you write me a handwritten letter and I write you one back, that’s maybe 30 minutes of your time and 30 minutes of my time. If we exchange text messages, that’s 10 seconds from you and 10 seconds from me. But with email, often times the sender will ask two or three open-ended one sentence questions which elicit multi-paragraph answers. In these cases, the sender spends one minute and the receiver is asked, implicitly, to spend maybe an hour."
How many times have we received a very short e-mail like "Hi! I'm fine. And you? Tell me about your life". Well, you spent 20 seconds to write that and you want me to spend half an hour talking about my life? Are you kidding?
Davidson's solution is one of the many possible solutions: "Every e-mail I send to anyone, regardless of subject or recipient, will be five sentences or less."
Four, five or six sentences, it doesn't really matter.
The only advice i would give is "If you want to receive a long e-mail, spend your time to write a long e-mail in first place. If you send a short one, don't expect people to spend long time to the reply".