We’re taught that it’s important to fill up pages, impress people, and be right. Those goals will rarely (make that never) result in clear thinking or clear writing. Instead, define a clear objective for writing your memo, report, proposal, email, or letter.

Write a sentence like this and tape it to your monitor to remind you why you’re sitting there tapping on the keyboard: “After reading my report, my manager will approve my budget.”

Then, ask yourself : “Do all my ideas support that goal? Am I giving my reader everything she needs (and only what she needs) to compel her to approve my budget?”

Often, the answer to the question Why am I writing? is I shouldn't be writing! Sometimes, a quick phone call, or a walk down the hall will get you answers faster than sending an email. Plus the excercise is good for you!