Selena Deckelmann's blog

Email anxiety and the form letter

posted on Feb 04, 2015
tags: email form_letters saying_no volunteering
categories: work

I've struggled with my email since the birth of my baby. To be honest, I've always struggled with email. My schedule is much tighter, with some important family obligations every day. And when I have free time, I don't want to deal with email.

In December and January, I got an unusually high number of requests in my email. Some were for volunteer work, others for sharing job postings and some flattering suggestions that I consider new positions. Some of these were easy to reply to, others I let hang in a "read but not really read" state in my inbox.

A couple days ago, I tackled the backlog! I was inspired by a recent blog post to create a form letter to help myself say no more easily to requests for me to volunteer my time.

There is more work for me to do on this note, and I still will edit it slightly if I know the person, or if there was something specific that I also needed to respond to. But I was able to send it and another form letter about ten times, making it a big time and guilt saver.

Form letters might help with decision fatigue. I want to reduce the number of detailed decisions that need to be made, so that I reserve energy for time with my family -- where I am focusing most of my extra energy and creativity right now.

Here is the first letter for saying no to volunteer requests and responding to people I don't know who are asking for me to share a job posting:

Your project seems very worthwhile! I do not have time for additional volunteer work at this time.

My current volunteer engagements include:

If what you're working on seems like a good fit for one of those organizations, please feel free to contact them at the email or web address above.

If you contacted me for a speaking engagement, I only consider speaking requests that pay me a market-competitive wage, have a code of conduct, offer childcare and provide for all expenses.

I only forward requests for paid labor to colleagues. If you've asked about a paid position, I've forwarded your message along and will be in touch if someone in my personal circle responds.

My favorite recruiter if you're seeking to hire someone in Portland, OR is Aimee Levens.

Thanks again for getting in touch and I'm sorry I can't be of more help at this time.

The key elements for this email were:

I also wrote a form letter for job pitches that I use as a base that I can customize. And I have a template for responding to typical Postgres community questions I receive.

Have some feedback? Corrections? Ideas for other posts? Contact me @selenamarie.