Why Composing Emails When Your Tired is Terrible   (…and how to not be terrible)

 

Tired is Terrible

A few days ago I walked into my favorite Starbucks after a long day on no sleep. I pulled out my phone to use Apple Pay and a shy but pleasant barista asked what he could get me. I said, “I’ll have a Bombay Sapphire and Tonic, please.” He blinked at me three times. Slowly, a wisp of a smile curled across his face. I admitted that I was in the wrong place. “It’s like that today, huh,” he said.

I ordered a Venti Black Iced Tea, sweetened and plunked into a seat. The night before, I had deadlines to meet and worked until…well, until it was hella late. Screaming cats in heat woke me up 30 minutes after I dozed off. Then my housemate came home half an hour later. I entertained 30 minutes of sleep at a time over a 4 hour period. That’s not restful sleep. That’s not restful anything.

I was too tired to work the next day. But I push through. Sometimes pushing trough gives a sense of accomplishment. Sometimes pushing through is overrated. I do it anyway.

“…be circumspect,” and taking my own counsel

An associate of mine on the West Coast needed some marketing materials sent. We had clients waiting and a growing list of prospects to contact. Our strategic partners, whom he has tirelessly pursued―with fine results for us―were in the bullpen.

Everybody on his team was rearing to act on my newly-minted Key Messaging Platform. I had an awesome lead generating email written. I emailed the message to him right away for the whole second-set-of-eyes thing. That’s always good, by the way. Tired as I was, I couldn’t think (at all, actually) of letting another day go by.

I had some emails that required “an immediate response” from me. One of my emails did get a response all right. Fi yuo cna raed thsi, you’re a genuis. If you could make sense of my terrible email, you’re a genius, too.

What I wrote:

The idea of doing forces to create a strategic alliance, increase sales and products in this market, introduce a new product, develop a new market segment, move into a new geography, etc.could be something to look into but not if it’s rabbit holing or a distraction from project that will produce financial.

Multiple streams of income is the ultimate goal. I say look into it but be circumspect. 

What I thought I sent:

The idea of joining forces to create a strategic alliance is shrewd. If Blahblahblah, Inc. is willing to become a strategic partner, that would be amazing for everyone. Looking at increasing sales and introducing new products is a smart move.

Blahblahblah, Inc. could give us an awesome opportunity to step into a new geography and develop a new market segment.  This is something to look into but not if it’s rabbit holing. Any distraction from projects that will produce a financial return wouldn’t be prudent. Not right now.

Multiple streams of income is the ultimate goal, of course. I say look into it but be circumspect. Please let me know if there’s anything you need.

This is what I said―in my mind. The email was a different, unintelligible story. It was terrible.

There are a lot of rules for writing emails. Know your audience, avoid attachments, have a consistent voice and so on. My #1 Email Rule? Get plenty of sleep. That’s the first step to being circumspect.

One way to be attentive and cautious:

Under normal circumstances, my energy level is up and I’m writing away like a fiend. I use a note taking app or Apple Pages. MS Word. Whatever. I write. I proofread. I may even run it through hemingwayapp.com―and Grammarly is bomb . When I’ve ascertained that it’s not terrible, I click the send button.

But these are not the most important steps toward you and your emails not being terrible.

The first step to not being terrible―Remember, if you can’t speak in simple, coherent sentences, you won’t do it in writing either. Be circumspect. If you can’t be attentive to what you’re doing, why are you doing it?

The second step― Wait until it’s time. Timing is everything. Honestly, sometimes it is better to put off ’til tomorrow what will likely be terrible today. And don’t make terrible today what you can make brilliant tomorrow (or after a nap, or after setting it aside for a time, or after you’ve meditated, or after you kissed someone who really needs a kissing, or after you’ve eaten).

The third step― Do not people-please anybody. Don’t place yourself in a position with an email that puts you needlessly outside of your strengths. Email, e-schmail. This applies to any project: always come from a position of strength…as best as you can for today.

The fourth step―If you walk into a Starbucks and order a gin and tonic, you need to go home, buddy.

The fifth step―Go to sleep.

Be you in everything you do. You probably did a million freakin’ things brilliantly today. A terrible, discombobulated email is hardly going to trigger global mass extinction.

Don’t fear making email errors. Mistakes are generally unavoidable. Focus on what you’re doing right. You can always correct a mistake, revise, reiterate.

Final Steps―Stay focused on improving. James Caan, CEO of Hamilton Bradshaw Group, among others, says that the way in which you deliver your message is just as important as what you’re trying to say.

While concentrating on this stuff you’re going to learn what your triggers are in terms of terrible. Don’t skip a meal or short-change yourself on sleep. Those are my triggers. What are yours? How do you solve that problem?

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