EmailThere are certain repetitive tasks that every professional must labor through. Often-sent emails are one of those tasks, which when automated, can save loads of time each week.

If you find yourself writing similar emails regularly, creating templates can help save a considerable amount of time. Once the template is complete, you can update only the necessary elements each time before sending. This is a straightforward way to present a polished message each time without starting from scratch.

To be the most productive, you should create a template for any email that you think you might use again. Efficiency expert Michael Hyatt asserts that templates are the best way to breeze through email responses that you would normally have to write out. By using a template response, you can save the time it would take to write it out, and just spend a few minutes personalizing the template format.

Templates can be set up for the most complex to the most mundane emails. Examples include a standard meeting summary email sent to a colleague or an email sent to a client thoroughly explaining what documents and information they need to provide for a request for production or interrogatories. No matter the complexity of the email, using a template will save you the time and headache of having to rewrite the same message over and over again.

The best way to start your email template library is to borrow liberally from well-written emails you receive. You know those emails; the ones that seem to have been expertly crafted by someone who is a combination of Zig Ziglar, Dale Carnegie and Oprah. They say what needs to be said, but do so in a way that is not too demanding nor too combative, in a professional tone that leaves you feeling better about the sender and yourself at the end. When you run across these emails, save them in a special email folder or copy and paste them into a document for your later use.

There are several ways to set up email templates. You could copy/paste template content to a document called “Email Templates” whenever you find yourself replying with the same content. Then you would open that document whenever processing email. There are also many effective template programs available, but most email clients like Microsoft Outlook or Mail have template features built in. With an email client or 3rd party template program, you can insert a saved template into any email with just a few clicks.

Here’s a quick step-by-step guide for creating email templates in the most widely used email client, Microsoft Office.

  1. On the Home tab, in the New group, click New E-mail. In the message body, enter the content that you want.
  1. In the message window, click the File tab.
  2. Click Save As.
  3. In the Save As dialog box, in the Save as type list, click Outlook Template.
  4. In the File name box, type a name for your template, and then click Save. By default templates are saved on your computer’s hard drive.

To send an email using a saved template in Microsoft Office:

  1. On the Home tab, in the New group, click New Items, point to More Items, and then Choose Form.
  2. In the Choose Form dialog box, in Look In, click User Templates in File System.
  3. The default templates folder is opened. If your template is saved in a different folder, click Browse, and then select the template.
  4. Select the template, and then click Open.
  5. Make any additions or revisions to the recipients in the To, Cc, or Bcc boxes. You can also change the text in the Subject box and add contents to the message body.
  6. Click Send.

Part two of on this topic will feature specific email template examples that every professional needs in his or her arsenal. Also, we will share experts’ advice on specific words and phrases to use liberally and others to avoid in professional emails. Until then, leave a comment and let us know how you use email templates to stay productive.