Mark your calendars: April 30 is Email Debt Forgiveness Day. (Well, according to the hosts of the internet-themed podcast Reply All, anyway.) I think it’s a great idea. On this day, “if there’s an email response you’ve wanted to send, but have been too anxious to send, you can send it…without any apologies or explanations for all the time that has lapsed.”
There’s probably at least five or 10 emails in my inbox that fit in this category, and I’ll definitely be binge-replying on April 30. However, learning about this holiday also me realize that I need a more permanent solution.
Conspire is an easy-to-use tool that analyzes your email data. Each week, it sends you an update on your email activity—plus insights into your communication style. (Also, as Muse career expert Erin Greenawald pointed out, it can be great for LinkedIn.)
If you need help getting control of your inbox, this report card is wildly motivating. Since I downloaded it, I haven’t stopped raving about it.
First, Conspire told me how many emails I’ve sent and received in the past week. I sent 73 messages. However, I received 248. Since most of the emails I get do require a response, that ratio is pretty bad. Plus, I saw that I’m really good at answering emails on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, but my response rate drops off sharply toward the end of the week. Note to self: Don’t lose answering stamina.
Conspire also tracks my response time versus my contacts’ response time. On average, I took 4.7 hours to respond—pretty darn good. My contacts took a mean time of 7.5 hours. If my response rate ever becomes slower than that of my contacts, I’ll definitely speed up.
Second, I learned how often I responded to certain people. When emailing my boss, I messaged back 25% of the time—she responded 100% of the time. Hmm, maybe that’s why “be more communicative” came up in my last performance review. If I’d downloaded Conspire earlier, I could’ve fixed that problem a long time ago.
The tool also includes a category for people I’m “losing touch” with. Conspire told me I usually email my mentor every 12 days, but I haven’t talked to her in 30. Has it really been that long? I immediately jotted off a message updating her on my life and asking her how her startup is doing.
Unlike a real report card, the tool doesn’t actually give you a letter grade. That’s good, because if it did when I first started using it, I would’ve scored a solid C. However, now that I’m using it regularly, I’m pretty confident I’ve moved into the A range.
Want to keep me accountable? Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with your career questions, gripes, or even accomplishments. I’ll answer, either in an email—or a column!