VSRE: Very Short Reply Expected

April 22, 2013

If you follow me on twitter you know how much I hate fighting with my inbox. Its a daily battle where I try to balance replying quickly and effectively with trying to be polite, so when I came across the following post on http://blog.vrypan.net/ I knew I was in love. Can we, as a community, try to put this into practice?  I know for a fact that this will help all of us struggling with the quest for INBOX ZERO.

Originally posted here.

I get a lot of email: requests for advice, presentations, meetings, new projects/services… In most of these cases, the answer itself could be as simple as “Yes”“No”, or “Tuesday”, or “I’ll be available after July”.

But I want to be polite, which adds a considerable overhead to delivering a simple reply.

The “I can’t”, ends up looking something like “Dear John, thank you …, I would be happy to … but right now I’m … and … and … and I won’t be able to invest the required amount of time. Please [….] Thank you”. Even saying yes, gets more complicated than it should: unless I know the sender really well, I’ll go with something more than “Great. Yes. Send me details.”.

As a result I find myself delaying replies, until get the time to write “a proper reply”, and this takes much more time than it should.

Remember “RSVP” that indicates that the sender (of an invitation) expects a reply? What if, much like in the case of RSVP, the sender had a way to inform me in advance that a very short reply is welcome?

I’ll call it VSRE, for “Very Short Reply Expected”. It will be a way to indicate that it’s OK for the recipient to give a very short reply. So when I see an email with subject “VSRE: Invitation to participate to event X”, I’ll know in advance I can safely reply with a “yes, thank you”, or even a simple “no”.

“VSRE” can also be used at the end of your email, like this

Looking forward to your reply (VSRE),


or even like this

VSRE, John.

Yes, VSREs will be the first emails I’ll answer. Yes, VSREs will be the emails I’d rather answer on my mobile.

However, if you use VSRE, make sure your email can be replied using a very short reply. I mean, some questions require a long answer. If you add VSRE at the subject of an email that requires a long answer, I’ll probably reply with “VSR not possible, check out what VSRE stands for” and a link to this post.

The rules:

  • VSRE stands for “Very Short Reply Expected”
  • In this context, a very short reply can be a single word, and is usually consisted of no more than five.
  • If you ask for VSRE, expect to get answers like “No.” or “Ping me in 4 weeks”. If you wanted the full story, you shouldn’t have used VSRE in the first place.

If you like the idea, spread the word. The more people are aware of it, the more it will make sense using it.

Feel free to copy this post (a link back here will be appreciated) or (even better) describe the idea behind VSRE in your own words.

What do you think? Does it look feasible?

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  • S. B. April 22, 2013 at 11:42 am


    • Marissa April 22, 2013 at 4:31 pm

      Lets do this!

  • Grayson @ Debt Roundup April 22, 2013 at 12:41 pm

    Perfect. I am in!

    • Marissa April 22, 2013 at 4:32 pm

      Well that makes 2 of us.

  • @debtblag April 22, 2013 at 12:57 pm

    Amazing. I’d love for this to catch on.

    Thank you for taking the time to write this post. Sincerely yours -Mario

    • Marissa April 22, 2013 at 4:33 pm

      No problem

  • Kyle April 22, 2013 at 3:11 pm

    I’ve given up trying to be polite at this point. Unless your title catches my attention or I know you personally, I don’t read it.

    • Marissa April 22, 2013 at 4:33 pm


      • Kyle April 22, 2013 at 5:04 pm

        Yeah. It almost never comes back to bite me. The one or two times it has, it didn’t turn out to be a huge issue. 99% of the crap I get is spam, so I’m not TOO worried about missing something important.

        • Marissa April 22, 2013 at 8:54 pm

          That’s fair. I postpone replying to a ton of emails just because I feel that they need to have better/longer answers when a short one will suffice.

  • Kurt @ Money Counselor April 22, 2013 at 5:44 pm


    • Marissa April 22, 2013 at 9:01 pm

      You like it?

  • Benny April 23, 2013 at 2:11 am

    An idea I had that you can use with VSRE is to use Textexpander with it. So somewhere in the email you can type in a few letters that will paste what you’ve already saved for the explanation of VSRE. That way they don’t reply back asking what that is or sit there starting at the email trying to guess.

    • Marissa April 23, 2013 at 2:18 am

      Interesting. Kinda like canned responses for gmail?

  • Cherleen @ My Personal Finance Journey April 23, 2013 at 5:19 am

    VSRE is a good idea. I have composed canned responses for various invitations so I simply copy and paste them. Yes, I am lazy.

    • Marissa April 23, 2013 at 8:09 pm

      I used canned responses all the time. And yea, I’m that lazy too.

  • William @ Bite the Bullet April 23, 2013 at 9:54 am

    Yes. Done.

    • Marissa April 23, 2013 at 5:35 pm

      We’re starting a movement!

    • Marissa April 23, 2013 at 6:03 pm

      I knew you’d like it!

  • LaTisha April 23, 2013 at 9:59 am

    Love it.

    • Marissa April 23, 2013 at 8:10 pm

      Knew you’d like it!

  • Dianne @ Skinny Seahorse April 23, 2013 at 5:55 pm

    LOVE IT! I’m in! When I’m back from blogcation – I’ll be posting about it!

    • Marissa April 23, 2013 at 6:04 pm

      Please do! Perhaps it will catch!

  • My Own Advisor April 23, 2013 at 6:06 pm

    I’m in 🙂


  • Justin April 23, 2013 at 6:22 pm

    Great idea!

    • Marissa April 23, 2013 at 8:09 pm


  • Ms. D April 23, 2013 at 6:44 pm

    Long winded response not needed. Love the idea!

    • Marissa April 23, 2013 at 8:09 pm

      This helps my fears of others thinking I’m rude.

  • American Debt Project April 23, 2013 at 7:28 pm


    • Marissa April 23, 2013 at 7:55 pm