I like to operate on the general premise that if IT CAN happen, it’s only a matter of time before IT WILL happen. Last week, it DID happen to me.

I hit “Reply All”

I had mistakenly replied to a company-wide email from a member of my team discussing how managers were not fulfilling their obligations and allowing their employees to miss important deadlines, and that we needed to reintroduce management accountability. Oh god…. I thought to myself as I felt my stomach sink and the last drop of saliva in my mouth go dry.

However, I knew this day would come and I had taken steps to mitigate my occasional aloofness. Not two weeks prior, I had found an article about how to create an email send delay within outlook, and I figured it couldn’t hurt. So now I want to share this 5-minute tip with everybody I know, because not only do I hate the idea of sending a “Reply All” to the entire organization, I hate the idea of being on them.

  • Step 1: Navigate to the Home section of the Outlook ribbon.
  • Step 2: Select “Manage Rules and Alerts”
  • Step 3: Select “Apply rule on messages I send” and hit “Next”
  • Step 4: Hit Next, again. You don’t need to do anything on this screen. Say “OK” when Outlook tells you that this will apply to every message you send. That’s the idea…
  • Step 5: Click the check box: Select “defer deliver a number of minutes” at the very bottom.
  • Step 6: Click the word “minutes” and select the number of minutes you want to delay the delivery. Personally, I like 2 minutes. Hit “Next”
  • Step 7: If you would like to add any exceptions to the rule, you may do that here. I like to create an exception so that messages marked with High Importance are not delayed. Hit “Next”
  • Step 8: Review your rule and make sure that the check box next to “Turn on this rule” is checked, and hit “Finish”

Personally, this is one of the best “professional-life hacks” I’ve ever done. I’ve found that not only does it mitigate the possibility of my replying to all, it also allows me a few moments to go back into the email I just sent and add that detail I just remembered, or to make sure I intentionally CC’d the right people.

There was even an unexpected positive. In the rare emotionally charged email conversations, the 2-minute delay helped to slow the pace and encouraged the use of a better medium for an emotional conversation, like the phone, or a face to face conversation.

I seriously suggest you take a few moments to set this up yourself. It’s only been positives for me.

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