two masks of jerk-faces
Image by Gerhard 

“I don’t believe in email. I’m an old-fashioned girl.
I prefer calling and hanging up.” 

1. Email is often a means of informal communication.

As such, you can dramatically decrease the amount of time spent on email with short, efficient replies like “Thanks” and “Understood” and “Agreed.” Dispense with formalities whenever possible and in­crease efficiency.

2. Blind carbon copy (bcc) is often the tool of the passive-aggressive coward.

Before including an email address in this field, always ask yourself why you are using it. If you’re trying to hurt or em­barrass someone or conceal something, knock it off, jerk face.

3. Never send an email written to express your anger or disap­pointment with someone.

Those emotions are better conveyed over the phone or in person, where unnecessary aggression and excessive vitriol cannot be shielded by the passive-aggressive na­ture of email. In other words, don’t be a coward. If you’re upset, pick up the phone.

4. No excuses for violating rule #3.

“I sent that angry email because I express myself better in writ­ten form and was too enraged to speak” is never an excuse for violating rule #3.

innerself subscribe graphic

5. If you receive an angry email, pick up the phone and respond immediately. The faster, the better.

The best way to handle a passive-aggressive person is in an aggressively direct manner. Angry email senders tend to be people who do not handle con­flict well and therefore hide behind technology. Pulling back the technological curtain will be uncomfortable for them and will often knock them off their position.

6. In-box zero should be your goal, if only for productivity and effi­ciency purposes.

Leaving email in your in-box forces you to look at it every time you access your mail application, which takes time and energy. It’s akin to sifting through the same grow­ing pile of mail every day to find a specific letter or bill. In-box zero will eliminate the time required to take action on incoming emails by not adding them to an already enormous pile.

7. Use a mail application that allows you to schedule a time when you want an email to hit your in-box.

Turn email into something that you receive when you want to receive it. I often reschedule in­coming email for a designated time during the day when I plan to read and respond, thereby keeping my in-box empty and enjoying the benefits of rule #6.

If I receive an email pertaining to taxes, I reschedule it to hit my in-box on April 1. If my fifth-grade team receives an email requesting action on our part, I reschedule it to hit my in-box in twenty-four hours in the hopes that one of my colleagues will handle the request before I need to.

8. Respond to emails that require action as quickly as possible, and always within twenty-four hours.

Failing to respond to an email — even if your response is “I’ll get back to you tomor­row” — projects the image of a person who is overwhelmed, disorganized, and inefficient.

9. Choose a subject line that clearly identifies the email purpose.

Choose subject lines for your emails that will allow your read­ers to identify the general purpose of the email without actually opening it and will help you search for that email in the future.

Copyright 2022, Matthew Dicks. All Rights Reserved.
Reprinted with permission of the publisher, New World Library.

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BOOK: Someday Is Today

Someday Is Today: 22 Simple, Actionable Ways to Propel Your Creative Life
by Matthew Dicks

book cover of Someday Is Today by Matthew DicksAre you good at dreaming about what you’re going to accomplish “someday” but not good at finding the time and getting started? How will you actually make that decision and do it? The answer is this book, which offers proven, practical, and simple ways to turn random minutes throughout your days into pockets of productivity, and dreams into accomplishments.

In addition to presenting his own winning strategies for getting from dreaming to doing, Matthew Dicks offers insights from a wide range of creative people — writers, editors, performers, artists, and even magicians — on how to augment inspiration with motivation. Each actionable step is accompanied by amusing and inspiring personal and professional anecdotes and a clear plan of action. Someday Is Today will give you every tool to get started and finish that _______________ [fill in the blank].

For more info and/or to order this book, click here. Also available as an Audiobook and as a Kindle edition.

About the Author

photo of Matthew Dicks, author of Someday is TodayMatthew Dicks, a bestselling novelist, nationally recognized storyteller, and award-winning elementary schoolteacher, teaches storytelling and communications at universities, corporate workplaces, and community organizations. He has won multiple Moth GrandSLAM story competitions and, together with his wife, created the organization Speak Up to help others share their stories. 

Visit him online at

More books by this Author.