How to Make Your Emails Write Themselves
"I'm sure I spend 30 minutes a day either retyping something or looking through my sent emails to find an answer I can copy-and-paste."
Sound familiar? It's what one of my clients told me when I asked where she felt she was losing time during the day. This is one of my go-to questions. I find that new clients already have an intuitive understanding of what their productivity challenges are. I love working with them to give those problems a name.
Think back to the last time -- possibly even earlier today -- that you received an email and thought, "I know I've written an answer to this before." I usually find at least once a day I'm asked the same question by a new person.
In my video "Need to Answer Emails on the Fly? Try Autotext", I talked about how using text replacements like iPhone Shortcuts and BlackBerry Word Substitution could help you get through mail on your mobile device faster. But you can do the same with your email system as well.
There are a few different ways to go about setting up frequently used responses. One of the most effective, which I'll focus on here, is making up a series of new signatures. This works in Microsoft Outlook, Apple Mail, Gmail and many other email system.
I have a habit that is years in the making. Before I click "send" on an email, I ask myself if I would ever write the same words in the same order again.
If the answer is even a slight yes, I go back to the beginning and edit the email so that it's one of the best I could possibly craft. Then, just before sending, I create a new signature.
Does this take a little extra time? Of course. I've spent 10 or even 15 minutes before getting an email "signature ready." But the next time I use that same copy in an email response, I recoup that time plus some. There are signatures I use daily and every time I save valuable minutes I can use elsewhere.
Start with the email correspondences you use most. To get more out of your time managing the inbox, review your current email signature. In addition to your standard signature with your contact information and legal disclaimer, create ready-to-go signatures that cover the most important points you need to be making.
For example, when a potential coaching client emails asking for preparatory materials ahead of our meeting, I have a special signature with links to websites, blog posts, videos and even the name and phone numbers of three past clients they can call. I even have signatures for frequent responses to the most popular Entrepreneur.com articles I have written. One recent week I used three different signatures more than 10 times each.
Consider making new signatures for information including links to websites you want potential clients to visit, answers to frequently asked questions, and product or service descriptions you can quickly share when asked.
What is the first signature you're going to make? Leave it in the comment area below.
Jason W. Womack is the CEO of The Womack Company, an international training firm that helps busy professionals be more productive through coaching and consulting. He is co-founder of the Get Momentum Leadership Academy, author of Your Best Just Got Better (Wiley, 2012) and co-author with his wife, Jodi Womack, of Get Momentum: How To Start When You’re Stuck (Wiley, 2016). Since 2000 he has coached leaders across industries and trained them in the art of increasing their workplace productivity and achieving personal happiness.