Stop sending incomplete emails

One of my favourite rules in Outlook is the one I created to defer the sending of every email I create by two minutes. You can find a variant of this in my [email] blogcast linked to from

"Why would you want to do slow down your emails?", I hear Alfred cry.

Well, if you're a plain old human being you probably receive an email every once in a while that reads like this:

From: Angry Recipient
Sent: 3 minutes after you sent your email
To: Idiot Sender; Everybody else you know
Cc: Everybody else you don't yet know
Subject: RE: Here's that great presentation I promised to send

Oy! There's no attachment in this email. Please re-send, you moron.

Yes, you forgot to enclose the file attachment. And that's why I defer all of my emails by 2 minutes. Extensive research has revealed that my brain wakes up approximately 2.37 seconds after I hit the Send button. But, in this always-connected era, 2.37 seconds is long enough for my email to have circumnavigated the globe several times, spreading word of my mistake to undiscovered tribesmen in deepest GoobaLuba faster than I can say "Doh!"

So by delaying each email's departure time by two minutes I buy myself enough time to realise my mistake, dash into my Outbox (where the email is sitting, coiled and ready to unleash itself on the world) and re-open the email to prevent it being sent. Then I can correct whatever mistakes I may have made and hit Send once more to send the email on its way.

I use this to catch all sorts of mistakes: missing file attachments, omitted recipients, incomplete data, adding afterthoughts etc.

But some emails are too urgent to delay by 2 minute so for these I have an exception in the rule that states that if the word 'urgent' appears in the subject line or a symbol whose secret meaning is known only to me (the little used tilde "~" is always a good one!) then the email should go immediately.

Here's how to create the rule:

  1. Tools menu, then Rules and Alerts
  2. Hit New Rule, then select Start from a blank rule
  3. Select Check messages after sending then hit Next
  4. Hit Next again then confirm Yes to the message 'This rule will be applied to every message you send. Is this correct?'
  5. Tick the last option Defer delivery by a number of minutes
  6. Click on a number of in the lower part of the window, choose 1 and hit OK
  7. Hit Next, then tick the first option Except if the subject contains specific words
  8. Click on specific words in the lower part of the window and type Urgent and click Add
  9. If you would like to use another word or symbol (like a tilde), just add this here too.
  10. Hit OK, hit Next
  11. Give your rule a name like "Defer sending by 1 minute" and press Finish
  12. Test by sending yourself an email and seeing that the email sits in your Outbox for one minute before being sent
  13. Test again using your code word in the subject line and seeing that your email is sent immediately
  14. Tell all your friends who send you emails without attachments, with missing information or who bombard you with three emails when one carefully compiled email would have sufficed.

Of course, you could delay emails by more than 2 minutes if you like. But don't increase this variable by too much or it might just prove quicker to post an olde fashioned letter with one of those postage stamp thingies.

Comments (4)

  1. Anonymous says:

    Hmmm, what a solution for the common problem of sending mails without attachment…
    Help! I sent it too early!

  2. Mihir Solanki says:

    Good one !!! So I am not the only one who realize after sending email about an attachment. anyway no more worries now …. thanks dude.

  3. Steve says:

    Great tip… implemented…

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