Email Superpower 5: Drafts, drafts, drafts

What other digital communication service can you draft out multiple written messages ahead of time, dozens of them if necessary, and then batch send them all at once?

Yes, you could save them as text files and then quickly cut/paste them at a later date. But that’s now using two apps. Worse, you can’t actually format those drafts as “ready to go” as you can with email.

Drafts are the superpower you didn’t know you needed. Until now. Every email client lets you create drafts. As many as you need with as many recipients or variants of recipients as you need.

And that includes replies to other email.

On a plane and want to knock out some email replies? Go to work. Your email client will save them all, ready to send when you are ready.

Want to work at night or early morning, but not let your colleagues know you’re burning the midnight oil? Just knock out those drafts, as well as reply drafts, and simply… don’t… send… them. Then at 9AM, hit the send button. Boom!

Drafts allow you to include hyperlinks, attachments, images, and whatever your heart desires.

Another great thing about drafts, especially in this digital age, is it allows you to compose your thoughts carefully, in writing (as you should for high-stress, high-intensity matters) and then simply sit on them… for weeks if necessary. Read and re-read what you wrote until it’s perfect, or until you decide to not send it.

Most all other messaging apps force you to save only a single unsent message. You can’t focus and reply to individual threads.

Slack lets you draft replies to a thread, but only one draft saved at a time per thread. You’ll need to save other potential writing using a third-party tool, like a text editor.

Another great thing about drafts is that you can be poised to send multiple possible responses as you wait for a response from someone else. In sales, you can have a response if the client agrees, if the client disagrees, or if the client fails to respond at all. Have all three ready (perhaps based off prior templates, but now customized), so you can fire off the appropriate one as soon as you hear from the client.

Drafts are saved in IMAP as a folder. So they are available everywhere. You can compose on your computer using touch-typing and speedy text entry. But you can then send it on your phone from your commute with just a tap. No one needs to know you were up late composing that email.

Drafts are also a way to save information for yourself without sending an email to yourself. I don’t recommend this, personally, as there are rules and filters you can use when you send email to yourself that are slightly better than what you can do with saved drafts. But if it’s just something temporary, use a draft.

Another great use of drafts is that you can start an email without any real sense of where it’s going — or even who you might send it to. That’s right! Drafts can be saved even with no recipients and no subject lines. Name a piece of communication software that can do that!

Perhaps you have finally decided to create a manifesto for people at your company to read, but you haven’t quite decided on who yet, or what you’re going to say, and you’re not going to attach a PDF or Word Doc as if it’s 2003, but simply write your email inline. Create the subject “Mission Statement” type a few lines, and leave it as-is until the morning. Maybe you’ll finish it. Maybe you never will. But email has your back no matter what.

Don’t forget that email is a built-in word processor in many respects. And just like a formal word processor, you can have many saved files in various states. Unlike messaging apps, you won’t block other messages you need to send while you work on different messaging thread.

The failure of so many to use drafts and to often instead simply regurgitate their immediate thoughts as short instant messages is one of the greatest tragedies of modern digital communications. To be able to compose, at leisure, your thoughts until ready to send, is an email superpower that has no equals.

Start using drafts today. You will thank me soon enough.