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Take Time to Save Time

Sometimes we bang out a message to get it done quickly. But if we take just another minute or two to make the message clearer before clicking Enter or Send, we save time for readers. That time savings often leads to getting a faster, better response. Here is an example.

Jeffrey is writing to an associate about scheduling a meeting. Yes, he might have sent a meeting request, but he handled the communication this way. Do you see something that demands extra time for the reader?


Email to schedule a meeting

What could Jeffrey do to make the message clearer?  Think about that question before reading my revision below.

Meeting is a good idea! Below is my availability. I think we probably need up to an hour to hash through things.

  • Tomorrow, 7/16, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.
  • Thursday, 7/17, 12:30-5 p.m
  • Friday, 7/18, 12-4 p.m.

If you have an hour free on those three days, just pick a time and let me know.

Note: I think you wanted to send me some examples to get my reactions. Would it make sense to do that before we talk?



Do you agree that my revision saves the reader time and may get a better response? Would you edit it the same way, or is there a better approach?

In your experience, are edits like those above worth the time?


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By Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston has helped thousands of employees and managers improve their business writing skills and confidence through her company, Syntax Training. In her corporate training career of more than 20 years, she has worked with executives, engineers, scientists, sales staff, and many other professionals, helping them get their messages across with clarity and tact.

A gifted teacher, Lynn has led writing classes at more than 100 companies and organizations such as MasterCard, Microsoft, Boeing, Nintendo, REI, AARP, Ledcor, and Kaiser Permanente. Near her home in Seattle, Washington, she has taught managerial communications in the MBA programs of the University of Washington and UW Bothell. She has created a communications course, Business Writing That Builds Relationships, and provides the curriculum at no cost to college instructors.

A recognized expert in business writing etiquette, Lynn has been quoted in "The Wall Street Journal," "The Atlantic," "Vanity Fair," and other media.

Lynn sharpened her business writing skills at the University of Notre Dame, where she earned a master's degree in communication, and at Bradley University, with a bachelor's degree in English.

8 comments on “Take Time to Save Time”

  • Lynn, thanks for this example. My recipient may deal with my email one or more days later. For quick orientation, instead of “tomorrow” or “Friday”, I write “tomorrow Wednesday” or “this Friday, July 18”. I also help the reader by writing the month in letters. This relieves the reader of decoding 7 into July. Also, in much of the world 7/12 means December 7. You will rarely see a numbered month in an airline reservation.

  • Thank you for your comments, George, Anita, and Neale. I appreciate your tweaks and suggestions!

    George, I like your example of “this Friday, July 18.” It helps to quickly orient the reader. Of course, spelled-out months are a good idea for an international audience as well. Thanks for the reminder.

    Anita, thanks for mentioning the time zone. That’s essential information in many messages.

    Neale, I love the request for action in the first paragraph. I also like how directly you asked for the materials at the end.


  • Hi Lynn, I agree your format is clearer and easier to digest. I also agree with George that it’s best to spell out the month and include the day of the week. I would just say Wednesday, July 16 (and omit tomorrow). I also always specify the time zone if the associate is, or may be, outside my zone.

  • I agree we need to meet for an hour. Below are the dates and times I am available. Please choose a date and time that works with your schedule and let me know.

    Wed 7/16 11 AM- 5 PM
    Thurs 7/16 12:30 – 5 PM
    Fri 7/17 12 – 5 PM

    Please send any materials you want me to review before we meet as soon as possible.


    I am a minimalist. I don’t like receiving emails with a lot of unnecessary clutter. I edit to fit the client’s time zone and country they are in with regards to grammar, spelling, abbreviations, etc.

    Great post.

  • I agree with Anita that stating the time zone helps the reader, especially when arranging phone or video conversations or announcing Webinars.

    For me, “tomorrow Wednesday” and “this Friday, July 18” are more helpful to the reader than just “Wednesday” or “Friday, July 18”.

  • MY EDIT:

    Let’s meet for up to an hour to hash through things. I’m available:
    * Tomorrow, 7/16, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.
    * Thursday, 7/17, 12:30-5 p.m
    * Friday, 7/18, 12-4 p.m.

    Let me know when suits.

    Note: If you need me to review some examples, please send them through beforehand.



  • Mike, I like the conciseness of your version, especially the opening sentence.

    The wording “Let me know when suits” is a bit unusual but not unclear. Also, I’m wondering whether “send them through” is an expression common to your organization. I have not heard it before.

    I apologize for the delay in responding.


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