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In time for the new year Hutch Carpenter and Jennifer Leggio introduced the 2009 Email Brevity Challenge. The rules are simple…limit every work-related email to 140 characters as if it were a tweet.

I analyzed my last 20 emails to see how close I am to achieving micro-emailer status. The bad news is that my average is well above the 140-character limit. The good news is that I have a clear path for getting there. Here are the results:

  • My emails range in length from 0 to 1,866 characters.
  • The 0-character email was just an image attachment (which you could argue is equivalent to millions of characters). The 1,866 character email was a pasted list from Excel. Ouch!
  • My average email length is 586 characters.
  • Removing the 0 and 1,866 character emails brings the average down to 169 characters. Pfew!

The key to achieving Tweet-sized email lies in putting all long email content inside of Confluence and linking to it. That way the conversation can be archived, everyone can participate and there’s one single source of truth. Here’s an example of one of my short emails:

Here’s my proposed press release for the [content intentionally omitted] announcement this month. It builds upon what Michael had written. Comment away. http://extranet.atlassian.com/display/…/Upcoming+press+release+announcement

The actual post was 245 chars long but would have been 167 characters (almost short enough to Tweet) had I used TinyURL. With a little more finessing I could have easily gotten this email below 140 characters!
You can sign up for the challenge by commenting on Jennifer’s blog or learn about using Confluence to reduce email clutter in our Solutions Tour.

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