Form Response for Declining Requests

Edmund Wilson, recipient of both the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the National Medal for Literature, was one of the most prominent social and literary critics of the 20th century. Like many super-productive people, he realized that, while there were many behaviors needed to guarantee high output, there was one behavior guaranteed to create unnecessary problems and distractions:

Trying to please everyone.

He had a low tolerance for distraction and shunned undue public acclaim. To almost all inquiries, he would respond with the following list, putting a check mark next to what had been requested…

Edmund Wilson regrets that it is impossible for him without compensation to:
- read manuscripts
- contribute to books or periodicals
- do editorial work
- judge literary contests
- deliver lectures
- address meetings
- make after-dinner speeches
- broadcast;
Under no circumstances will I:
- contribute to or take part in symposiums
- take part in chain-poems or other collective compositions
- contribute manuscripts for sales
- donate copies of books to libraries
- autograph books for strangers
- supply personal information
- supply photographs
- allow my name to be used on letter-heads
- receive unknown persons who have no apparent business with me.
By the way, Wilson was no hermit. He was sociable. His writing, honed at Vanity Fair, The New Yorker and The New Republic, also played a large role in introducing F. Scott Fitzgerald (a friend who referred to Wilson as his “intellectual conscience”), Ernest Hemingway, and William Faulkner to the mainstream public.

Though he was thought stubborn and prone to odd whims, a perception no doubt encouraged by his auto-response, he had his good friends and got more done in years than most will get done in a lifetime.

What about you?

Maybe you should craft your own Wilson letter. And you can classify it as a "policy" and add it to your SweetProcess documents. 

Think about it!

How much more could you get done if you had a policy of quickly dispensing with even two or three time-wasting requests?

Create a Form Response

I have a TextExpander email template I fire off when I get random requests (it covers most of the common ones). Here's what it says:
Subject line: No thank you...

Thank you for your email.

I appreciate your interest in reaching out to me. But, unfortunately, I can’t accept your invitation to chat/email/collaborate/participate/ruminate and/or brainstorm about the opportunity you mentioned.

I’m currently 100% focused on several important projects (e.g.recording weekly podcast episodes, coaching my lawyer clients, and writing a new book). I have literally no free time available for anything else right now, nor for the extended future.

As author Cal Newport pointed out in Deep Work, our most important projects require fanatical commitment and intense focus, which these days is harder than ever to create and maintain.

Thanks for understanding my situation, and best of luck to you in your endeavors.

Ernie Svenson
People don't want me to decline their requests, obviously. But they seem to appreciate that I reply quickly.

So, it's been a good policy to have. And having an automation to implement it is super helpful.

If you still have a question, we’re here to help. Contact us.