Let’s face it—we’re all slaves to our inboxes. We keep that handy email tab open in our browsers. We pull out our phones when we’re in line at the pharmacy. We tap out messages when we’re stopped in traffic.
In fact, we’re all so tethered to our precious emails that one Reuters survey reports that the average American worker spends 6.3 hours every single day dealing with email. That begs the question: When do we get any of our actual work done?
There has to be a better way, right? And, since your previous experiments with restricting your inbox time or going cold turkey have probably flopped just like mine have (sigh), I think the secret to effective email management doesn’t lie in limiting your time—it lies in limiting your effort.
That’s exactly where these handy templates come into play. For those standard messages you find yourself typing out again and again, you can just copy and paste the template text (or save it as a canned response), make your necessary adjustments, hit that beloved “send” button, and then return to your actual work.
9 Free Email Templates for Your Most Common Work Emails
1. Request a meeting with someone you know.
Tip: Regardless of who you’re eager to meet with—be it a colleague or a networking contact—a solid meeting request will always include the specific reason you’re interested in getting together. That information will ensure you both have the same expectations, as well as give that other person adequate time to prepare if necessary.
Hope you’re having a great week!
Do you have some time [today/this week/this month] when we could sit down and discuss [topic]? Here are some of the main points I’d like to get your insights on:
- [Point #1]
- [Point #2]
- [Point #3]
Let me know what works with your schedule, and I’ll send out a calendar invite.
Look forward to chatting!
2. Request an informational interview with someone you admire.
Tip: Reaching out to set up an informational interview with a professional you admire is slightly different from a regular meeting request, as you’ll need to introduce yourself—while also thoroughly explaining why you’d like to meet. It also helps if you coat their ego by letting them know why you admire them.
My name is [Your Name], and I’m reaching out because [reason you’re getting in touch].
I know there’s a lot I can learn from your experience and insights, so I was hoping you’d be willing to grab a coffee with me and discuss [topic]. My treat, of course!
Let me know if you’re willing to chat, and we can set up a time that works for both of us.
Thanks so much, [Name]!
3. Say “thank you.”
Tip: When in doubt, it’s always better to offer a heartfelt “thank you” in person—or even with a formal note! But, if that’s not possible, a genuine email will do the trick. Just ensure that you actually include the words “thank you” (you’d be surprised by how often that’s skipped entirely), and offer to return the favor if and when that person needs it.
Thank you so much for [thing you’re grateful for]. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it!
Please let me know if I can ever return the favor for you. I’m more than happy to do so!
Thank you again!
4. Request a favor.
Tip: You need to ask someone to step in and do you a solid. Groan, right? Requesting a favor makes nearly everybody uncomfortable. But, there’s really no need for that self-preserving “I hate to ask…” language. It only muddies your message. Instead, be direct, explain exactly what you need, and—much like you did in the previous “thank you” message—offer to have his or her back whenever that time comes.
I’m reaching out to ask you for a favor. I’m hoping that you could step in and [favor you’re requesting] because [reason you’re asking this person].
For clarity, here’s exactly what I need:
[Deadline, if relevant]
Is this something you could help me out with? If so, let me know what other information you need.
I so appreciate your consideration here, [Name]. And, of course, I’m always willing to return the favor if and when you need it.
Thanks so much,
5. Turn someone down.
Tip: Whether you’re the one doing the turning down or are the person on the receiving end, rejection plain ol’ sucks. However, whether you’re shooting down a job applicant or a request, don’t sugarcoat your message or—even worse—apologize. It’s important that you’re still direct—while simultaneously being gracious.
Thanks so much for reaching out about [topic/opportunity].
Unfortunately, I can’t [thing you’re saying “no” to]. At this time, [reason for your rejection].
Please let me know if you have any additional questions about this. I’m more than willing to offer additional feedback.
6. Reply to a rejection email.
Tip: While turning someone down can be awkward, being rejected is even worse. It can be tough to know how to respond when you only want to hide under your desk. Your best bet is to keep it concise, ask for feedback if necessary, and then thank that person for his or her consideration.
Thanks so much for the opportunity and for letting me know. I really appreciate the chance to [thing you’re being rejected for].
I have one last question for you: Do you have any feedback you can share with me? I’m always looking for ways to improve [skill related to thing you’re being rejected for].
Thanks again for the opportunity and your consideration!
All the best,
7. Ask for a reference.
Tip: You’re applying for a new job or some other sort of professional development opportunity, and you need a reference to back you up. In these cases, it’s helpful to provide some context of the opportunity as well as what skills you’re hoping this person could speak to. That way, if he or she actually is contacted, you can rest assured that you have a solid and relevant reference in your back pocket.
I hope you’re doing well!
I’m currently in the process of applying for [opportunity] with [organization], which I’m confident would be a great fit for me because [reason].
As part of the application process, I need to share a few references. Since you can really speak to my [specific skill(s)], I was hoping you’d be willing to be listed as one of my references.
If so, please let me know what contact information you’d prefer to me to provide.
Thanks so much for your consideration, [Name]. I really appreciate it!
8. Congratulate someone.
Tip: Whether your boss recently had a baby or your colleague scored a promotion, you want to offer a hearty congratulations. Much like saying “thanks,” this is always better when offered in person. But, if necessary, an email will suffice.
I heard about [event you’re congratulating him or her on] and wanted to reach out to offer a hearty congratulations. That’s awesome news!
Wishing you all the best with [event], [Name]!
9. Craft your out of office reply.
Tip: Here’s one email you’ll actually look forward to writing—your “out of office” automatic response. However, it can also be tough to draft when your brain is already in “vacation mode.” Your response should include the fact that you’re currently away from your desk (duh), when you’ll return and respond to your emails, and who that person can contact in the meantime. Also, skip the “limited access to email” cliché. Chances are good that you have access—you’re just not checking it, and that’s totally OK!
Thanks for your email, but I’m currently out of the office until [date you’ll return]. I’ll dig my way through my inbox, and respond to messages once I get back.
If you need immediate assistance in the meantime, please reach out to [Name] at [email address].
Adjust these email templates as needed.
Of course, remember that these are only templates. You can (and should!) make adjustments so that they better fit your personality and your individual circumstances.
But, even with those little tweaks you need to make, having the nuts and bolts ready to go in a template is sure to save you many much-needed hours. Put these to good use, and you’ll be able to spend less time chained to your inbox and more time actually working.