Cut Down Inbox Clutter by Treating Email like SMS?

Cut Down Inbox Clutter by Treating Email like SMS?

Mike Tyson
Jan 5, 2011

Who doesn't want to streamline their workload? Simplifying our tasks can help us be more productive as well as make our work easier to complete. One website has a unique solution: treat your email like SMS text messages. After the jump we'll explain a bit more about the problem of email overload, their answer to fix it, and why we're remaining a bit suspicious of the technique.

The websites,,,, and propose a unique way of handling your email: reply in no more than two, three, four, or five sentences, respectively. The webpage explains that inboxes are often becoming too cluttered simply because responding to all of them seems too daunting. This method, however, encourages brief communication (like an SMS message) with only the most pertinent information being exchanged. The site then provides a short explanation that you're encouraged to paste in your signature line so people don't begin to wonder why you're all of a sudden being so brief.

On the one hand, this is an interesting approach to the problem of overflowing, unmanageable inboxes. On the other, we see a few issues with the system. One: it may come off as being a bit arrogant, making the receiver feel unimportant or not worthy of a lengthy response from you. We're concerned using this in office environment might upset your bosses. Second: some things simply can't be crammed into two to five sentences and constantly alternating or removing your email signature might become annoying. Lastly, we believe that constantly minimizing your dialogue in a conversation will just lead to more questions from your confused recipient. This means you're ultimately sending and receiving more emails than you would have had you sent a normal length response in the first place.

That being said, we are always interested in hearing new and interesting ideas to reduce email clutter — don't think we like to shoot down all creative answers. We want to know: has anyone been able to apply this method successfully? Are you a master of language, compacting even the most complex thoughts within three or four sentences? If not, here are other ways to help combat that pesky email.

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