Productivity Hack Of The Week: A Simple Way To Answer Emails Much Faster

Turn email into less of a chore with templates of responses and save hours every week.

Productivity Hack Of The Week: A Simple Way To Answer Emails Much Faster
[Email menu: kpatyhka via Shutterstock]

In an age where the workday is seemingly getting longer and longer, every minute counts. So we thought we’d give you some of them back with this week’s productivity hack.


While the average person receives more than 50 emails a day and a quarter of us receive more than 100, a lot of the emails you receive will have you rewriting the same responses over and over again. Enter the canned response.

Imagine you send about 70 emails a day. If you work a 40 hour workweek, that equals around two hours every day spent emailing, according to one study. Now imagine instead of writing out a response for each message, you simply click a few buttons and in a matter of seconds you’ve responded to one email. Do this 70 times and those two hours could be whittled down significantly.

While Gmail makes it pretty easy to respond to emails quickly with a feature dedicated to canned responses, Outlook, one of the most popular workplace email services, doesn’t have a feature specifically dedicated to canned responses. But there is a quick workaround that should work for you, depending on what version of Outlook you use.

If using Outlook for Mac 2011:

  1. Hit Reply or New Email Message
  2. Click on the Signatures drop down button and then click Edit Signatures
  3. Click the plus sign button, double click where it says Untitled to name your canned response, then in the blank space to the right type out your response. Once you’re done, X out of the Edit Signatures box (responses should save automatically).
  4. Now the next time you want to send a canned response, all you need to do is click into the email body, then click the Signatures drop down button, and pick the response you want to send.

For ideas on what your canned response should say, check out this article on Templates And Hints For The Perfect Email For Almost Every Situation

To help you work smarter instead of harder, we’re hitting you with a productivity hack each Friday. Check out our hacks here.


About the author

Rachel Gillett is a former editorial assistant for’s Leadership section. Her work has been featured on,, and elsewhere.