Delay 2 minutes, avoid looking like a jerk

We’ve all been there: 30 seconds after pressing that send button on an email you realize you shouldn’t have sent it at all.

Maybe you were replying in anger or realized you could have made a particular point better. Regardless of what it might be, wouldn’t it be nice to delay your send by a few minutes so you could catch a mistake like this?

I had a really nice conversation with Will Schwalbe the other day on this exact topic. Long time readers might recall that Will is the co-author of Send: The Essential Guide to Email for Office and Home (his site, my review) and quite an authority on the subject of email etiquette. We were talking about potential electronic uses of the material in his book like online training possibilities or even Outlook plug-ins that check you for certain behaviors when he remarked to me that simply delaying your outbox would help tremendously.

He said that such a thing wasn’t possible, as far as he knew. I took that as a challenge 8).

Rather than reinvent the wheel, the good people at Google helped me find this article over at Suite101.com entitled Delay Sending Email, which suggests:

  • Open Outlook, click on START, All Programs, Microsoft Office, Outlook.
  • Click on TOOLS, Rules & Alerts.
  • Click on New Rule “Start from a blank rule”.
  • Click in Step 1 box, “Check message after sending”.
  • Next, click on “On this machine only”.
  • Next, Click in Step 1 box, “Defer delivery by a number of minutes”.
  • Click in Step 2 box, “a number of” enter the number of minutes (usually 1).
  • Click on OK, click on Finish.

This worked perfect for me and I wanted to pass it onto all of you. I set my delay for 2 minutes so I can have a small window to edit something again before it leaves my outbox and onto the email servers. It hasn’t saved me yet, but I suspect it will soon.

Got any email tips of your own? I’d love to hear about them in the comments.

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4 Responses to “Delay 2 minutes, avoid looking like a jerk”

  1. Tac Says:

    If I have an email that may in anyway be negative, I make myself send it to an alternate email address. If I’m at work I’ll send it to Gmail.

    This makes me look at the email in the same format that the receiver(s) will be getting it. It also forces me to re-read it. I have always made changes to the email when seeing it this way.

    The times I have skipped this rule, I have always regretted it.

  2. Pete Johnson Says:

    Awesome tip, Tac! Thanks for sharing.

    —Pete

  3. Nerd Guru » Blog Archive » What’s your best email productivity tip? Says:

    […] with email has become vitally important. I’ve picked up a few ideas recently, most notably Delay 2 minutes, avoid looking like a jerk and Don’t send that attachment! but I wanted to see what the general public […]

  4. Schwinl! » Blog Archive » Pas si vite ! Says:

    […] suivre dans google reader depuis près d’un mois maintenant, mais que je voulais partager : retardez l’envoi de mail de quelques minutes pour éviter les boulettes. Il s’agit tout simplement de demander à Outlook de patienter 2 minutes avant […]

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