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One Minute That Saves Your Career

Does this sound  familiar: you are just pondering over your half-finished e-mail which you may actually never want to send out and suddenly … OOPS! Wrong button! You have just sent it out. Accidentally sent. Oh no, what have I done!

Unintentionally sending e-mails, some of them half-baked or created in an unfortunate, emotionally charged-up moment, is an underestimated danger, especially with some e-mail clients. Depending on your configuration e-mails can be sent with a keyboard shortcut easily hit by accident.

And then all of a sudden the mail has gone! It is on its way to the recipient! Possibly to your favorite enemy. Or to the boss. Or even to the worldwide  “ALL” mailing list!

Isn’t that a nightmare come true? Such a mishap could mean major trouble, possibly escalating to a serious career setback, possibly even resulting in being fired.

While some server configurations have the option to recall the email, this function is usually not reliable, and certainly not with emails that have already left the company’s email server and reached external recipients.

Luckily, when Outlook is your favorite e-mail client, there is a very simple remedy: delay sending out your emails automatically. This can be easily done by setting up an Outlook rule.

In order to achieve that, select “Tools” from the Outlook menu, then “Manage Rules and Alerts”, and “New Rule”. In the first page of the Rules Wizard  choose “Apply rule on messages I send”.

In the second dialog step (conditions) don’t select anything, just click “Next” and ignore the warning.

In the third step, select the dialogue option “that a number of transmit delay of minutes.” Select one minute and save the rule under a unique name.

From now on every newly created email will wait in the outbound folder for 60 seconds before Outlook replicates it with the Exchange server. This gives you enough time to delete or correct it.

Using the delay rule does have some disadvantages. Sometimes you need quick e-mail delivery but have to wait one minute until it can be sent. Besides, since the delay rule is client-based, it only works when the Outlook client is running. Sometimes you have to wait a minute before closing it just to have your recent message sent, which can be occasionally frustrating.

Despite these small drawbacks, the one-minute rule is a very good practice. It is easy to set and prevents you from sending out messages you might later regret bitterly.

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About the Author

Roman MildnerRoman Mildner, Certified Project Manager (PMP) and member of the United Mentors Network (UMN), has worked in the IT industry since 1992 and an independent consultant and project manager since 1998. His professional offering includes IT strategy consulting, project management and process improvement. For more details, please visit his UMN page.

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