Shorter is almost always better

I am and will always be an admirer for anyone who understands that the shorter sermon, the shorter meeting, the shorter training session, and the shorter story are almost always the best versions of those things. 

Time is our most precious commodity. In truth, it's our only precious commodity. Honor it as such. When standing before a group of people, I have an obligation - a duty - to be relevant, engaging, entertaining, and concise.

Every single time. 

If my meeting is scheduled to last an hour, and it lasts exactly one hour, I have failed. The goal should not to fill the hour but to accomplish my goals in less than the allotted time.

This is what is known as being efficient. The definition of this word is one of the most beautiful collection of words in the English language:

Efficient: achieving maximum productivity with minimum wasted effort or expense.

Strive to be efficient in all things, including meetings. These ministers get it.

Nine rules for making you more efficient with email and less of a jerk face

1. Email is often a means of informal communication. As such, you can dramatically decrease the amount of time spent with email with short, efficient replies like, ‘Thanks” and “Understood” and “Agreed.” Dispense with formalities whenever possible and increase efficiency. image

2. Blind Carbon Copy (BCC) is often the tool of the passive aggressive coward. Before including an email address in this field, always ask yourself why you are using it. If you’re trying to hurt or embarrass someone or conceal something, knock it off, jerk face.

3. Never send an email written to express your anger or disappointment with someone. Those emotions are better conveyed over the phone or in person, where unnecessary aggression and excessive vitriol cannot be shielded by the passive aggressive nature of email. In other words, don’t be a coward. If you’re upset, pick up the phone.

4. “I sent that angry email because I express myself better in the written form and was too anger to speak” is never an excuse for violating rule #3.

5. If you receive an angry email, pick up the phone and respond immediately. The faster, the better. The best way to handle a passive-aggressive person is in an aggressively direct manner. Angry email senders tend to be people who do not handle conflict well and therefore hide behind technology. Pulling back the technological curtain will be uncomfortable for them and will often knock them off their position.

6. Inbox zero should be your goal, if only for productivity and efficiency purposes. Leaving email in your inbox forces you to look at that email every time you access your mail application, which takes time and energy. It’s akin to sifting through the same growing pile of mail every day to find a specific letter or bill. Inbox zero will eliminate the time required to take action on incoming emails by not adding them to an already enormous pile.


7. Use a mail application that allows you to schedule a time when you want an email to hit your inbox. Turn email into something that you receive when you want to receive it. For me, this is Mailbox, though many other applications offer similar functionality. I often reschedule incoming email for a designated time during the day when I plan to read and respond, thereby keeping my inbox empty and enjoying the benefits of rule #6.

If I receive an email pertaining to taxes, I reschedule it to hit my inbox on April 1.

If my team receives an email requesting action on our part, I reschedule it to hit my inbox in 24 hours in the hopes that one of my colleagues will handle the request before I need to.

I also use the “Someday” time frame in Mailbox to randomly reschedule emails that make me smile or feel good about myself, allowing me to experience the joy of receiving that email all over again.


8. Respond to emails that require action as quickly as possible, and always within 24 hours. Failing to respond to an email – even if your response is “I’ll get back to you tomorrow” – projects the image of a person who is overwhelmed, disorganized, and inefficient.

9. Choose subjects for your emails that will allow your readers to identify the general purpose of the email without actually opening it and help you search for that email in the future.

The question all successful people can answer immediately: What’s your super power?

Serial entrepreneur Tina Roth Eisenberg says that all the most successful people she’s met have been able to answer this question immediately:

What is your super power?

From TIME:

John Maeda, who led the MIT Media Lab and Rhode Island School of Design, responded with “curiosity.”

Maria Popova, who curates the popular Brain Pickings blog by reading 12-15 books a week, said “doggedness.”

Eisenberg’s own superpower? Enthusiasm.

Knowing your superpower means you know yourself well enough to have a focus, and that’s the same competitive advantage that makes you so great at what you do. It’s the quality you’re most proud of, the one thing that makes you stand out, and what gives you an edge over everyone else.

My wife claims that my super power is productivity, but what she really means is efficiency. I get a lot done, but it’s in large part because of the systems of managing work that I have developed.

It’s not magic, as much as some people may think. It’s not even hard work (although it does require hard work). It’s a combination of focus, determination, and a willingness to spend time and effort developing streamlined processes for my work. 


But I would drill down even further and get even more specific. I think my real super power is my ability to rapidly and seamlessly shift between projects without a reduction in quality or loss of efficiency, which allows me to work on many things at one time.

On Monday, for example, I completed a re-write for a musical, finished writing the first chapter of a non-fiction book, wrote about 10 pages of my screenplay, worked on two different novels, worked on a story for a Moth event, and completed tasks for my DJ company and Speak Up.

I shifted between all of these projects quickly and without loss of productivity, and I didn’t require an artisanal latté, a communal table made from refurbished railroad timber, or any smooth jazz to do so. I worked in many different locales at times ranging from 4:00 AM to 10:30 PM.

That is my super power.   

My wife’s super power, by the way, is her ability to endear herself to every  person of every type almost instantly. People automatically love Elysha. It’s as if humanity’s default setting is almost instantaneous love for her.

I wonder if she would agree.

Three questions:

  1. What is your super power?
  2. Were you able to answer the question almost immediately?
  3. If you know me well, do you agree with the super power that I have proposed?