I discover that a big chunk of my time goes to composing a small number of emails or direct messages.

I always overthink the message and try to balance it not to feel too bossy and cold, and also not too lenient or chatty.

It can take me 20-40 minutes to write up a small whatsapp with some simple request.

I don't know what to do, I am afraid to make an impression of a dick person who does not care for others, but also I can't care about others when I feel stressed and all I am interested in is getting things done, which is unfortunately most of the time, and I put great efforts in concealing it which also takes much of my time...

  • It could be helpful if you include emails and messages are for/from whom? Co-workers, customers, managers.. etc – Sandra K Oct 21 '18 at 21:56
  • practice usually fixes this over time. – Kilisi Oct 21 '18 at 21:56
  • Just do it? If you take 40 minutes for a small sms style message that is 39.5 minutes too long. Even a junior gets payable wage. If you cna not do your job at all (and take 80 times as long, that is not doing your job) then well, sorry, you do not do you job. Soemone else may and ultimately will. Look at it from that point of view. Employer pays, you owe him not to sit on a small message for ages. – TomTom Oct 22 '18 at 10:21
  • You have to learn not to be that sensible because you expose yourself to emotional manipulation with such an attitude. You simply have to care less about people who might take your messages as worse than what they are. Especially if it's about relatively trivial or non-controversial work stuff. Be concise, don't spend time on being polite. Do the greeting, then go for the meat and send. – Battle Oct 22 '18 at 11:29
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    Check up the book "How to stop worrying and start living", you'll quickly learn to realize what's the worst thing that can happen in a given situation and you'll quickly learn whether the fear is worth spending time on. – Jonast92 Oct 22 '18 at 15:21

Step 1: Decide what you want to convey. Step 2: Write it. Step 3: Send it.

Skip the step where you go over it again about how people receive your emails. Mostly they don’t care. They do care that you don’t get your work done.

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  • Well, this short and common sense reasoning actually made the whole difference :) Sometimes all you need is someone's reassurance that it's ok to be a bit abrupt in your communications. – user19668 Oct 24 '18 at 16:29

I have this issue, a strategy that works for me is:

I type everything up quickly. Then go through it deleting or editing anything that is unimportant or overly verbose. With practice you can see the essentials and fix things pretty rapidly. With the end focus of making it clear and concise. Quite often I delete half or more of my original composition.

It may seem counter-intuitive, but for me at least this is a better strategy than starting small and adding. Because it makes you look from the start at the whole message rather than bits.

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  • Sounds like my approach to coding – solarflare Oct 21 '18 at 22:43
  • @solarflare probably mine too if I was actually any good at coding – Kilisi Oct 22 '18 at 5:08

That's not a problem with overthinking your emails. It's a problem with your self-confidence.

The first question would be whether you've always been like that. If that's the case, you can think about a therapy or work on your self-confidence on your own.

If that's something that started at a specific point, your self-confidence was probably shaken by someone or something. Was it an unfair boss who criticized you for your "tone"? Was it a colleague who attacked you for "not being friendly enough"? If you know what it was, you can take appropriate action, e.g. change your job into a less dysfunctional one.

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When you want to communicate something where tone is important, then consider a different medium than written text. Pick up the phone and call them, or even better meet them in person.

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Taking a long time to compose an email is often a function of your emails being badly received previously. So I find that speaking to people to tell them what will be in an email (or in a meeting for that matter) will save time as it will reduce misunderstandings.


If you are nervous about starting an email chain then it would probably be best if you speak to the people you are sending it to to explain what you want to know - this has the benefits of a) often avoiding the need for lengthy email exchanges b) no-one gets a surprise & misinterprets your thoughts c) saves time d) may eliminate the need for an email altogether!


Always try to reply in the same manner as the sender - so if it is formal/informal whatever you should reply in kind. Don't add in new people to the cc list unless you are saying you should be taken out of the distribution. Don't try to explain that the person has missed the point & needs to consider other factors - simply say what you know & leave it.

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