The reason why Email is the undisputed king of business communications lies in its convenience and power. Email is ‘free’, can be made secure (read our post on Email signing), and lets you send files and documents with ease. But the main reason why Email is such an integral part of our work routine is simple – Speed. Over the past two decades, E-mail’s instant nature has made it an essential tool for any day-to-day work. Even in today’s world, with social networking taking over personal messaging, business communications remain overwhelmingly Email based.
However, there are times this instant nature of Email is a hindrance. Whether it’s sending a reminder to a colleague when you’re away, or sending a payment invoice automatically at the end of the month, the ability to schedule Email can help make your workflow a lot more efficient. Whatever reasons you might have for using use Email scheduling, here’s how you can implement this feature in the most popular clients and services – Gmail, Outlook, and Thunderbird:
Gmail and Google Apps are used by a lot of businesses for Email hosting. However, for advanced users, Gmail can at times seem restrictive due to its limited feature set. While Gmail yet does not offer inbuilt Email scheduling, there are a number of services that facilitate this:
Boomerang: This browser extension (available on Firefox and Chrome) lets you schedule Email messages for either a specific time/date or after a set elapsed time. Boomerang neatly plugs into your Gmail on your browser to let you schedule Email reminders and also lets you mark specific messages that it brings up at the scheduled time. Get it from www.boomeranggmail.com .
RightInbox: Also available on Firefox and Chrome, the RightInbox (www.rightinbox.com) browser extension offers easy-to-use message scheduling, Email reminders, and even E- mail tracking.
Streak: This Chrome extension (www.streak.com) is more than an Email scheduling service: You can share your Inbox and use advanced sorting functions.
The Email client of choice for many businesses, Outlook offers out-of-the-box Email scheduling – with a caveat. Although you can defer messages (look in Options-> Delivery Options-> Delay Delivery in the compose message window) as required, Outlook requires that it be up and running on your computer. If you’d like to automate the process of sending out Email on a predetermined schedule, you could also take a look at some plugins:
MAPI Lab Scheduler: Available from www.mapilab.com, this plugin integrates with Outlook to allow automated sending of messages and also supports attachments.
Sperry Software Recurring Mail Add-In: This Outlook plugin (www. sperrysoftware.com) can be used to automate Email sending.
Mozilla Thunderbird might not be as powerful out-of-the-box as Outlook, but it makes up this with a vast choice of add-ons and extensions. However, like Outlook, Thunderbird requires that it be up and running on your computer at the scheduled time. Some of the popular Email scheduling add-ons for Thunderbird include:
Send Later: This add-on modifies the ‘send later’ button so that instead of saving the message in your outbox, Thunderbird presents you with a menu that lets you choose the exact time and date you’d want the message to be sent at.
SendTools: SendTools tacks on a ‘Send At’ button on the message composition window and lets you specify when the message should be sent.
Email scheduling can be a great efficiency and productivity tool that can help simplify your workflow. While many users have so far been content with a vanilla Email experience, it would be a shame if you didn’t exploit this communication platform’s true power!