29 June 2017
This is a typical occurrence for my inbox: One minute it’ll be empty, and the next it’ll have a dozen emails from my project manager at Panda (my manufacturer).
For a while I thought this was because Chris was reserving a certain time every few days to reply to my emails and catch me up on production. But when I had the rare chance to chat in person with Chris a few weeks ago, I learned the truth. It’s actually quite clever.
The reason Chris sends batches of email all at once is that he’s learned that things can–and often do–change over the course of a day. So instead of sending an e-mail as soon as he’s written it, he either leaves it in drafts or schedules it to send later in the day. That way if something changes, he doesn’t have to send a contradictory email; rather, he can just edit the original.
Here are a few examples of the problems this method helps to avoid:
- Yesterday a translator informed me of a typo in the Charterstone proofs, so I sent an email to my graphic designer with the change. Then the same translator found another, so I sent another email. We both sent 2 emails when we could have sent 1, and now when I get the revised proofs to approve, I have to hunt down 2 sources instead of 1.
- More frequently than I’d like to admit, I send Chris an approval, decision, or quantity, only to change my mind a few minutes or hours later. There’s something about the finality of making a decision that sends my brain into overdrive to ensure that it’s correct. I could save us both trouble by scheduling the e-mail instead of sending it, which would trick my brain into thinking it’s final while still letting me edit the original message before it’s sent.
- Even though Chris is my project manager at Panda, a huge part of my job is also project management: coordinating between lots of different people and keeping track of all the different moving pieces. It’s common for different people to contribute to the same topic at different times. And yes, I’m sure someone in the comments will note that I could use Slack, but I simply prefer email.
As much as I like this method, I’ve had a really hard time converting to it. My instinct is to reply to every email instantly and write every new email as soon as possible. But I’ve started using it more, particularly as I’ve coordinated a ton of simultaneous translations of Charterstone and The Wind Gambit, and it’s proved to be really helpful.
Have you ever tried this technique? Do you have any clever email strategies to share? I’d love to hear about them in the comments.