The Advantage of the 3 Email Rule

Posted by Andy Dunscombe on Oct 12, 2015 2:41:00 PM


Quick question: How much time do you spend during an average work week on emails? I'm imagining the answers range from "a lot" to "too much." Fear not, as you are not alone. A study outlined in the Washington Post says that 28 percent of our work week (11 hours) is spent on emails. Why is this? Probably because email is so convenient. With busy schedules, it can be easier to email back and forth with someone rather than to meet with them in person or have a phone call.

All that back and forth can lead to time wasted. With emails able to be read on the go via mobile phones, sometimes certain emails aren't paid the attention they deserve. Have you ever had an email conversation go like this:

To: Ed
From: Jerry

Hi Ed,
Let's meet tomorrow to discuss the Henderson project. Can you do either 2pm or 3pm?

To: Jerry
From: Ed


Wait...what? Jerry obviously didn't read all of Ed's email. Now Ed has to email Jerry back and confirm a time. All this emailing back and forth when a simple minute long phone call would get the job done. 

This is where Phil Simon's 3 Email Rule comes in handy. The 3 Email Rule states that after 3 emails on one subject, a phone call is needed. The main advantage of this rule is the time that is saved. No more back and forth. No more clarifying emails. No more digging through the email chain to find information. A five minute phone call can save about 20 minutes of future time spent on emails.

Phil lets people know his rule by stating it below his signature on each email. However, he mentions that stating it is not enough, he has to make sure he invokes it. Phil's rule has caught on, as many of his co-workers and clients have gotten in on the act. 

The 3 Email Rule won't solve all your email woes, but it goes a long way in cutting down on some of the megabytes that fill up your inbox and eat into your work week. 

Related Content:

The Dreaded Reply All Email

Conducting An Effective Client Lunch Meeting

Images courtesy of ddpavumba at

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