2 Emails That Can Shrink Your Workload By 20%

Parkinson’s Law states that work “expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” This could likely explain why you sometimes work more than 60 hours per week, when in fact you could easily shave off 20 or so hours by managing expectations with your boss/client. Instead of flinging yourself into the workweek with unrealistic expectations of clearing everything off of your to-do list, let the people who depend on you know what you plan to accomplish. Robbie Amed, author of Fire Me I Beg You, suggests writing two emails every week to manage your workload:

Email #1: What you plan on getting done this week
Email #2: What you actually got done this week

Here’s what Email #1 looks like:

Subject: My plan for the week

Jane,

After reviewing my activities here is my plan for the week in order of priority. Let me know if you think I should re-prioritize:

Planned Major Activities for the week

  1. Complete project charter for X Project
  2. Finish the financial analysis report that was started last week
  3. Kick off Project X – requires planning and prep documentation creation. Scheduled for Thursday.

Open items that I will look into, but won’t get finished this week

  1. Coordinate activities for year-end financial close
  2. Research Y product for our shared service team

Let me know if you have any comments. Thank you!

— Robbie

And here’s what Email #2 looks like:

Completed this week

  • Completed X Report
  • Started the planning for the big project
  • Finished the month-end analysis and sent to financial controller for review
  • Created a first draft of the project charter, which is currently being reviewed by Project Manager Z

Open items

  • I have some questions about the start date of Y Project, but should get confirmation by Tuesday morning
  • We need X Report signed off by EOD next Wednesday. Can you follow up with Jane to get this signed off?

That is all for now. Have a great weekend.

— Robbie

This model works even if you’re part of a team that has weekly progress meetings. By managing expectations, you no longer need to work 60+ hours (even if it’s just for the optics). Under-promise and over-deliver.

This post was originally published on 99U.