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Why (and How) You Should Use Email Templates at Work

Whether you realize it or not, we spend a large portion of our day dealing with email. In fact, a 2012 survey by McKinsey found that desk workers spent an average of 28 percent of their work weeks buried in email. But how much of this time is spent sending the same thing over and over again? While it would be helpful to cut down on the number of emails you receive, you could also save yourself even more time by reducing the effort spent replying to each email.

Whether you realize it or not, we spend a large portion of our day dealing with email. In fact, a 2012 survey by McKinsey found that desk workers spent an average of 28 percent of their work weeks buried in email. But how much of this time is spent sending the same thing over and over again? While it would be helpful to cut down on the number of emails you receive, you could also save yourself even more time by reducing the effort spent replying to each email.

(Photo Credit: Andrew Taylor/Flickr)

One of the best ways to do this is to leverage email templates. I recently discovered these while managing a client’s inbox that receives hundreds of emails per day. While many of these could easily be deleted without a response, it is important to remain on good terms with those in your industry and at least acknowledge receipt — even if you don’t want their business or don’t think they’d be a good candidate for the job. (You never know where you’ll both be in your careers in five years!) Taking the time to respond to approximately 50-60 emails a day sounds impossible; but with email templates, it can take less than an hour.

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If you use Gmail, setting up templates takes less than five minutes. Gmail actually already has this feature baked into its platform, but it’s hidden away under it’s “Labs” features. To find them, click on the Gear icon at the top right of your inbox and then select “Settings.” Find the “Labs” tab and then scroll down to the “Canned Responses” feature. Then, just select “Enable” and save.

When you compose a new email, you’ll be able to save it as a response you can use later by clicking on the arrow to the right of the trash can (in the compose window), selecting “Canned Responses” and then choosing “New Canned Response.” You can name it whatever you want, and then when it’s time to use it in the future, just open a new email, select “Canned Responses,” and click on the canned response of your choice!

Start banking canned responses now. The Muse has a great list of scripts you can copy, so you never have to start from scratch. These include how to respond when you’ve been asked to make an introduction, how to reply if someone asks to “pick your brain,” or if you’re turning down a candidate for a job. With these scripts — and Gmail’s Canned Responses — you can quickly and politely reply to all those pesky emails you’d rather ignore, which will not only make you look more professional, but improve your reputation in your industry.

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How do you manage your inbox at work? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.


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