I’ve come to believe that the optimal time between having an idea for an email, and sending the thing out, is 24-48 hours.
Any less, and you’re likely to vomit all over somebody’s inbox. Any more and it’ll probably go cold, or you’ll second-guess yourself out of sending it.
What specifically might that 48 hour window look like?
When you have an email idea, you have to quickly make notes with whatever you have to hand. I’ll do this on a computer if one’s handy, or into my Evernote app on my phone if I’m out. I might use pen and paper, although I find this slows the process later on.
Another valid approach is to drip-feed notes on the email throughout the day. This is a fairly time-intensive way to do things, because the email ends up taking more brain-space than it merits. (Sorry, did you have other things to do today?) But it can help when you’re starting out.
1 – 24 hours later you want to convert your notes into a draft. Drafting the email is easier the more care you have taken with your notes, and even a one-hour gap between notes and drafting is beneficial. Not all of my notes continue to the draft stage. Sometimes I’ll have lost enthusiasm, or had a better idea.
If you’re like me, the second you’ve finished with your draft you’ll want to send it. “Shakespeare himself would be envious in his grave,” you think smugly to yourself. Of course, 24 hours on, your wonderful writing might not seem so wonderful at all. So if possible it’s best to leave some time between drafting and sending.
I’ve had clients in the past who have failed to grasp the importance of this delay. Usually they then like to ‘point out’ mistakes, which is the price you pay for a rushed email.
These are rules of thumb, to be broken at your own discretion. Working in a hurry can sometimes be a virtue. But I believe the delays I’ve suggested are optimal for most people.