Half of the emails you send out cause at least the same amount of e-mails to come in and vice-versa.
In a perfect world, all email threads are resolved with only one email out and one email in. We don’t live in a perfect world, and so there’s e-mail back-and-forth wreaking havoc on our productivity, but we can work towards it.
Imagine if we all played this game: the one who closes the thread first wins. You can close the thread in one e-mail if you’re really good, and you get bonus points for that. There would be a leaderboard, and the winners would get an award and something filthy luxurious like fewer distractions, less stress, more time, that kind of stuff.
A winning strategy could be to write more thoughtfully, take a little longer to say everything you need to say. Overcommunicate when in doubt, try to anticipate the recipient’s questions. It’d be a bit like playing chess or poker but way easier.
Startup idea: make it an app or a Gmail extension. You could call it Tilt, as in pinball, because it stops the back-and-forth, and it’s also the anagram of the acronym for “Last In The Thread”—I have a gift for naming, I know (among several other things).
I hope this makes you rich and famous.