If you’re a social media user, you’re probably no stranger to the idea of scheduling messages to be sent out later. For years, tools have been around that allow you to do this; it just makes sense to be able to write posts when you want to, but publish them when it makes the most sense for your readers.
But have you ever wondered why we aren’t able to schedule messages on the communication tool we use even more than social media; the thing we spend more than two and a half hours a day on; the platform that runs the modern business world? I’m talking about email, and I’m here to tell you that if you’ve never thought about how scheduling emails can make your life (and career) better, you should.
We at The Muse have been using (read: obsessed with) email scheduling tool Boomerang for Gmail for quite some time now. We’ve found that it not only helps us better manage our inboxes, but that it’s actually helped us improve our communication and boost our careers.
Don’t believe us? Here are a few clever ways to use this tool.
Never Forget to Follow Up Again
Let’s say you’ve just walked out of an interview and know you need to send a prompt thank you email to the people you talked to. You don’t want to send it immediately—because that would look a little over-eager—but you also don’t want to get into your day and forget to send it in a few hours’ time.
So sit down and write the email now, but schedule it to go out in two or three hours. You can go on with your day knowing that an impressive thank you note will arrive just the right amount of time after the interview.
This works for any type of follow-up. Say someone asks you to reach back out in a couple weeks once his schedule has opened up—instead of having this message linger in your mind (and inbox) until then, or just forgetting to follow up, write the message now and schedule it for three weeks out.
You can even schedule things to come back to the top of your inbox if someone hasn’t replied to you—making it easier to remember to check in when other people haven’t followed up.
Make Sure Important Messages Actually Get Read
People, especially successful ones, don’t usually sit staring at their inboxes all day, reading new messages as they come in. So, if you don’t want your message to get buried in all the incoming emails, it’s best to send it strategically so it’s at the top of their inbox right when they’re sitting down to deal with it.
For example, data has shown that most people want to answer emails before they get into the office in the morning and during their lunchtime. So, if you write the bulk of your emails at the end of the workday (or later that night in front of the TV with a glass of wine), sending them out at that point won’t get them the attention they deserve, so schedule them for a more ideal time the next day. You could even tweak what day it arrives—consider scheduling things for a Wednesday, when the volume of email traffic is generally lower so you’ll have less competition.
At the very least, this trick can help you look super on top of your game. Like to work really late at night, but don’t want your boss or clients thinking that you’re burning the midnight oil? Schedule the email for first thing the next morning to make it look like you’re already up and being productive.
Get Information Exactly When You Need It
Boomerang doesn’t just let you schedule emails out to other people—it lets you schedule them back to yourself, too.
This means, instead of leaving things to clutter your inbox until it’s the right time to deal with them—or having to search through your mail when you need a piece of information—just schedule it to arrive at the top of your inbox exactly when you need it top of mind.
So if you have an email full of information for a meeting next week? Schedule it to come to the top of your inbox 20 minutes beforehand so you can go over it then. Has someone asked you a question that you can’t answer until you talk with your boss tomorrow? Have it return to you tomorrow afternoon—when you can actually deal with it.
Stay in Touch With Your Network
One of the hardest parts of building good professional relationships is remembering to stay in touch at regular intervals. You can use this same trick to nip that problem in the bud!
Next time you send a contact an email to check in or shoot her a message thanking her for getting coffee with you the other day, Boomerang it to come back to the top of your inbox in a month or two when you want to make sure to touch base with her again. You’ll be consistently growing your relationships—without having to try and keep track of when you should be reaching out.
Stay on Top of Your Goals
This is kind of a fun way to use this tool—write an email to future you and schedule it to come back to your inbox in three months, a year, whenever you feel like it will be most valuable. Outline where you’d like to be at that time to help you review your goals, see how far you’ve come, and assess areas where you still need to improve.
If you have the pro version of the service, you can even schedule recurring messages—meaning you could send yourself a weekly or monthly reminder to take some time to self reflect and do some big career thinking. Or you could just send yourself weekly motivational quotes or affirmations to help keep yourself going.
Photo of email button courtesy of Shutterstock.