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The Three Things approach

Chris Hufnagel Avatar

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A strategy to get people to respond to your questions.

The way that my brain works when communicating with someone is often chaotic. I will begin by typing a message about one topic and realize that I also want to ask this person about another entirely different item.

This has led me to my three things approach. I inform the person that I have three things to share with them or ask about by announcing that upfront. The recipient quickly understands that this message will contain multiple contexts, but only three of them.

This often looks something like this:

Hey, Zoe (Zoe is my 6-year-old daughter),

I hope you are doing well. I have a couple of things on my mind today that I wanted to get in front of you:

  1. When are you going to finish cleaning your room? It has been a mess for the last week, and no one can walk through it because of all the legos on the floor. This is becoming a safety hazard.
  2. Do you want to go for a walk later today? It is supposed to be very nice out. It would be wonderful to get some fresh air.
  3. I love you very much 💗

One of the keys to this method is that I number each item. This gives the receiver the context that this list is only three items long and gives the person a quick way to respond by simply starting each response with the coordinating number.

I do my best to stick to only three things; more than that, and the effectiveness of this approach drops.

I have found this approach incredibly productive; I often get responses to each question instead of just the one the responder wants to answer.

Try this method if you get frustrated by someone who answers only 1 of your questions. It often gets even the most slippery of question responders to actually respond.

Give three things a try!

  1. Condense your ask into three items. No sub-items, three specific asks.
  2. Use a numbered list to make replies easier.
  3. If you do not have three items, give a compliment! It never hurts to make item number three “Have a wonderful day.”

Turning the three things concept into a newsletter

I love this approach so much that I am making it the core of my newsletter.

Every week I will share with you three things on my mind. They can be an article I have read, a thought I had after a podcast, a tip I have learned over the years, or perhaps even a puzzle to solve!

All of this will be aligned with making a living as a freelancer to empower your life’s big adventure.

Building off the Brainwaves

I started the Brainwaves newsletter in 2018. It was a massive success for me. Despite only having 1,700 subscribers at its peak, it allowed me to connect with many creators, and it turned into quite the networking tool for new clients and collaborators for future projects.

I loved creating the Brainwaves because it had a simple constraint; each issue was never more than 250 characters. This forced me to be concise while also providing value.

While creating the Brainwaves, I learned a few things about newsletter creation:

  1. The size of your audience does not matter much; focus on writing for one person. The numbers will come with time.
  2. Stay consistent and keep showing up. When I stopped writing the Brainwaves (It was right when the Pandemic started, and I was just too drained to write), I got many emails from readers asking if I was ok. I had shown up for two years on the same day and suddenly stopped.
  3. Constraints breed creativity.
  4. Repurpose your content as much as possible. You might wish that every person in your audience was on all the social platforms you used and engaged with you. That is not likely. This is why I took my Brainwaves newsletter and turned some of the best into Instagram posts and stories.

New newsletter, new name!

I can’t have a newsletter without a cool name (well, I probably could, but I do not want to…).

Something that has always fascinated me is how being a freelancer gives you the freedom to be location and income independent. That independence and freedom have sparked many of my life’s great adventures. My goal is to empower others to create that independence so that they can spend more time living their next adventure (whatever that looks like for you).

I have been living this journey for 10+ years and have countless notebooks (phsycial and digital) covered with notes.

This is why I have named the newsletter Nerd Notes, I am opening up my notebook to you!

Who is with me?

If you want to create more freedom to live that extraordinary adventure, I hope to see you on the Nerd Notes Newsletter. Every week I will share three things that are on my mind. These items will be essential assets, tools, and education as you embark on your journey, and I can not wait to share them with you.

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