As I am cleaning up and finalizing everything in preparation for vacation, I created a vacation auto-response message at work – for this I used a template and an Outlook rule (Not on Exchange). Creating this reminded me of some other standard ‘Draft Templates’ I use in Outlook to make my Email life easier and more efficient.
Why do I use Drafts?
I have to send out numerous emails at the end of projects and at the end or beginning of each week and they are the same type and format each time. The subject lines change and the project names and numbers are different, but the rest of the email is the same. So I write up one really good, thought out, detailed email with everything I need to cover for the recipient and format it so that the only changes made are the subject line, the attachments and a short detailed summary area when required on Project Report emails.
How is this helpful?
By creating a master draft, every weekly email I send out always has the pertinent data needed, I do not have to create an email each time from memory, waste time typing the same thing over each time or if I can’t remember the last one, open an old one and copy paste the content. I just open my drafts folder and select “forward” on my specific draft template and change the particulars for this project or report, select who it goes to and hit send. In fact if you send to the same people all the time, their names can already be included in your drafts TO and CC. Keep in mind that you write some of these same emails over and over, spending about the same amount of time on each one – stop wasting your time, write it, save a draft, select forward, change the names to protect the innocent and send!
How do I do it?
As I said above I write up one really good, thought out, detailed email with everything I need to cover for the particular topic I am creating the email for. For project reports, I create standard subject line with text that is meant to be changed that says job# – job name. I replace these with the actual information prior to sending.
Note: The nice thing about this is that I can save this email for others to use for their reports or use in my absence for me and I know the same information is being provided each time. (like fill in the blank)
I include a summary area with changeable title, project name or number, square footage, service size, address, or whatever is applicable. I format it with italics, bold, underlines, colors etc.. spell and grammar check it, make sure my signature is included (depends how you have Outlook setup for signatures), and save!
When I am ready to send out a report or info email, I open drafts, select the required draft, right-click and select “forward”. If the TO and CC lines are already filled out, I just modify the “fill in the blank” info and send it.
Important Note: Always select forward!!! If you open the draft and select, send after your changes – You have lost your draft and you need to re-create it.
If in the future, if I need to add additional recipients, change the formatting or add content, I open the draft, make the changes and resave it. Done!
What are examples of good draft templates?
– Electronic file Transmittals
– Weekly, Daily, or Monthly Status Reports
– Permit, utility, or project coordination notices
Why do this?
– Speed – saves time!
– Consistency – always the same!
– Accuracy – nothing forgotten!
– Green – Recycles your work! : )
Now stop typing the same stuff over and over, type it, draft it, and forward it!
For other good Email habits, make sure you read my Email Etiquette post.