Hello, I’m Michael Sliwinski, founder of Nozbe - to-do app for business owners and their teams. I write essays, books, work on projects and I podcast for you using #iPadOnly in #NoOffice as I believe that work is not a place you go to, it’s a thing you do. More…

Trick: how to write long emails without typing much


These days my Email Inbox it as always at zero, but my “Starred” folder with emails that need a longer reply from me has quite a backlog. I’ll clean it up tomorrow so if you’re waiting for a reply from me, tomorrow will be your lucky day! :-) Anyway, the problem with writing longer emails is that well… it takes so much time to write them. That’s why I try to resort to only 5 sentences per email… but sometimes I need to write a longer one… and recently I found a great trick: Don’t write, just talk!

Trick: how to write long emails without typing much

Famous David Allen’s 2-minute rule

As I mentioned, even though I have a backlog of a few emails I need to reply to, my Email inbox is at zero. I process the inbox 2-3 times a day and wipe it out - usually archiving everything, deleting a few mails, replying quickly to the ones I can reply to within 2 minutes or less, and “starring” emails that need my careful attention later. I recorded a Productive! Magazine Show video about it :-)

The 2-minute rule is really powerful and I use it especially when after reading a message I know exactly what I’m supposed to write back. If I know what I should write back, there’s no time to wait, I reply write then. I’m a touch-typist so I do it fairly quickly. But what i I know what to write but I know for a fact the response will take me more than 2 minutes… more like 15-20? Well, there is a way of still replying right then.

Example of my conversation with Patrick Foley

Patrick Foley, a good friend of mine, was writing an article on pricing and wanted to pick my brain on my experiences with pricing Nozbe over the years, how I think startup owners should price their service, how I did it, what I learned from it.

As pricing is a topic I’ve been studying a lot over the years and I’m still experimenting with it… and as it’s a crucial part of my business and reason why Nozbe, although being bootstrapped is a cash-flow positive company with a team of 12 now and growing, I wanted to share some thoughts with Patrick… but at the time I got his email I was busy getting Nozbe Desktop to launch and couldn’t dedicate around 30 minutes to answering him in a long email, but I knew what I wanted to tell him and I didn’t want him to wait for my answer… so what did I do?

There is an app for that: iPhone’s built-in Voice Memos

I grabbed my iPhone and fired up the “Voice Memos” app and started dictating an answer to Patrick. It felt like if I was talking to him right there. I just explained him some of the basics and my logic behind pricing, how I feel pricing enables you to “choose your customers” etc. The recording took about 6 minutes. When I finished I clicked “share” button next to it and chose email - I wrote a quick note explaining why I chose this form of “writing email” and hoped my advice would help him.

Patrick replied quickly to me and thanked for my quick response and he commented on my voice message to him:

“I think most people fear it would be impersonal (at least I do) – yet it actually felt MORE personal to me.”

I’m glad he felt like this, as it felt more personal to me, too. I really felt like I was talking to him via this voice message.

Voice is faster, use it and don’t type so much!

I’ve used this trick several times now and will continue to use it even more. I think it’s a very cool way of writing a personal and detailed message in no-time. If you’ve followed me long enough, you know I’m a big fan of voice - I don’t read books, I listen to them (at 2x speed at that) and now I’m starting to talk a lot more via email than write… let’s hope Siri gets even better - we’ll get used to voice even more!

And by the way, Patrick’s article is great, it’s a must-read for anyone responsible for setting prices of their products. Go read it here and share it through the internets via the social medias :-) I’m glad my 2 cents helped him :-)