Classic Nerd Guru:Delay 2 minutes, avoid looking like a jerk

Note: This article originally ran on January 14, 2008, is slightly edited for reprint in an effort to share previously published ideas with new readers.

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 sitemy 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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6 Responses to “Classic Nerd Guru:Delay 2 minutes, avoid looking like a jerk”

  1. TechnoGirl Sara Says:

    I wish I had read this like an hour ago. I sent my boss a blank email earlier today because I am retarded. Normally I can catch things in my Outbox since I have Send/Receive set for every 5 minutes, but apparently it was ready to go as soon as I hit send this time. Well thanks for the tip so I can not look like a moron next time.

  2. Mario Peshev Says:

    Nice, really great tip. I’m not sure if this is a tip exactly, but I often send emails that have to contain attachments, but I forget to send the attachments 😀 Now the first thing I do when I write an email is adding the files for attachment, then writing the content and finally adding subject and ‘from’ receiver mail.
    This prevents me from being punished for being late with my deadlines, because final emails contain no attachment 🙂

  3. BacarliW Says:

    Do you have a list of outlook plugins that you recommend? Outlook Track-It is really cool for followup emails (small toolbar with a reminder). That’s been great. But thank you for your tip, too!!

  4. CJ Says:

    Pete – thanks for the laugh 😉 I wish I stumbled upon more blogs like this. And to Bacarli – Yes, I tried Outlook Track-It, and I haven’t stopped since. It’s a cool little toolbar. Thank the lord it doesn’t take up too much space. I also never forget to reply to emails so I’m no longer a jerk.

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