Most of us have, at some point, found ourselves in the position of typing out and sending an email that we’ve sent before. It was the same recipient. It’s the same message. Maybe it’s even the same day of the week.
If you find yourself doing this on a recurring basis, you should consider setting up a recurring email—an automated email message that gets sent at the same time intervals, predictably.
In some cases, a recurring email can save you time. In other cases, it can keep you from forgetting something important. No matter what, you can probably find a use for recurring emails—and in this guide, I’ll explain exactly how to set them up in Gmail and Outlook.
Table of Contents
- Why Set Up a Recurring Email?
- Recurring Email Best Practices
- How to Set up a Recurring Email in Gmail
- Other Options for Gmail Recurring emails
- How to Set up a Recurring Email in Outlook
- Improving Your Email Habits
Why Set Up a Recurring Email?
These are some of the most common motivators for setting up a recurring email, though they certainly don’t capture the full scope of what’s possible with recurring emails:
- Personal reminders. For starters, you could create recurring personal reminders for yourself. For example, if you’re responsible for submitting a monthly report to your investors, a quick email to yourself can help you ensure you don’t forget to put it together.
- Report aggregation. Speaking of reports, if you’re responsible for collecting reports from many different individuals, you can use a recurring group email to keep everyone in line (and on time).
- Invoice submission. If you send the same invoice to a client every month (or at a different time interval), you can simply replicate the email and make it recurring to make things easier on both of you. For more info, see this guide to automated invoice processing.
- Payroll requests. If you have employees or independent contractors working under you, you can prompt them for their payroll information (like timesheets or invoices) on a weekly or biweekly basis.
- Meeting agendas. You can also use recurring emails as a way to both prompt a meeting and remind people of the meeting agenda; this is especially useful if you have people who forget the meeting or if your meetings frequently go off track.
Recurring Email Best Practices
Before you start getting ideas for your recurring emails, there are a few best practices you should incorporate and pledge to follow:
1. Get permission.
If you’re sending recurring emails to yourself, you have nothing to worry about. But you don’t want to bombard or spam the other people in your network. If you plan on sending a recurring email to anyone, whether they’re a partner, client, or coworker, make sure you get their permission first—or at least give them a heads-up.
2. Set an end when appropriate.
Most methods to create a recurring email give you the option to set an “end time” for the recurrence. For example, you can set an email to send out weekly for a period of 6 months. If you have this option, use it, and set a reminder to reevaluate the email’s utility when the time comes. This way, you won’t have a useless recurring email getting sent out forever.
3. Proofread, proofread, proofread.
It’s always good etiquette to proofread your emails, but with recurring emails it’s even more important. This is a message that’s going to be seen many times, and you may not have the opportunity to review and correct it later; make sure it’s correct before you schedule it.
4. Be prepared to update your recurring email information.
There may be circumstances that force you to change the conditions of your recurring email. For example, your meetings may change from Thursday to Wednesday, or you may find it better to get a reminder in the morning than in the afternoon. Be prepared to make adjustments as necessary.
How to Set up a Recurring Email in Gmail
Unfortunately, Gmail doesn’t have any built-in features that allow you to send a recurring email—at least not in the truest sense. In Gmail, you can set up and use templates for messages you send frequently, but we’ll touch on them in the next section.
Once installed, draft a message like normal. Then, you can click Send Later—a new red button you’ll see in your Gmail account once you install Boomerang. From there, you can select “Schedule recurring message.”
Here, you’ll have access to a recurring message menu, which you can customize with options relevant to you and your needs. You can set a start time and end time for the recurring period to get sent, choose days and times when the email should be sent, and of course, dictate the frequency (e.g., daily, weekly, monthly).
You can change your recurring emails at any time from the recurring messages menu.
Other Options for Gmail Recurring emails
If you’re sending the same message repeatedly, but at inconsistent intervals, or if you just want more manual control in how you’re sending emails, you could use Gmail templates instead.
To make Templates an available feature in Gmail, head to the Settings menu and click Advanced. Here, scroll down until you find the Templates option and click Enable (then save your changes).
Now, Templates will be available.
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Start drafting a message in Gmail, then click on the three vertical dots in the bottom-right corner. You’ll see “Templates” as an option. Highlight it, and then highlight “Save draft as template.” Click “Save as new template,” and you’ll have the option to name this template. Name it something you’ll remember, like “Payroll Reminder” or “Client B Weekly Invoice.”
From here on, anytime you want to call up this message, click the three vertical dots in the bottom-right corner, highlight Templates, and choose the Template you want. Click it, and it will populate; you can then make edits as you see fit before sending it out.
2. Automatic Gmail Filters
You can set up rules using Gmail filters to automate various recurring emails, such as the following cases:
- Automatically forward any email to a specific email address that matches certain conditions.
- Automatically respond to any email using a saved Gmail template that matches certain conditions.
See our full guide to Gmail filters for instructions on how to set up Gmail filters!
3. Gmail Calendar Reminders
You can also set up recurring Gmail Calendar reminders that send you a recurring email notification. Personally, I like to use this method to remind myself to do various chores, such as replacing my home air filter once every 3 months.
Simply visit your Google Calendar, create an event, then set it to recur as often as you like. Be sure you tick the option to receive an email notification reminder of the event.
How to Set up a Recurring Email in Outlook
Here are three ways you can set up recurring emails in Outlook:
Method 1. Setup Outlook Rules
You can set up Outlook rules to automate various recurring emails, such as the following cases:
- Automatically forward any email to a specific email address that matches certain conditions.
- Automatically respond to any email using a saved template that matches certain conditions.
Method 2: Use a third-party plugin
Remember Boomerang for Gmail? There’s also a version called Boomerang for Outlook, and it works almost exactly the same way. It’s my top recommended tool for scheduling a recurring email in Outlook.
Once you’ve downloaded the app, begin a message like normal. Then, you can click Send Later—a new button you’ll find in the ribbon at the top of the window. From there, you can select “Schedule recurring message.”
From here, you can set a start time and end time for the recurring period to get sent, choose days and times when the email should be sent, and of course, dictate the frequency (e.g., daily, weekly, monthly). Click Schedule to finalize the process.
You can also change your recurring emails at any time from this submenu.
Method 3: Use Visual Basic Script
You can use Visual Basic Script and recurring tasks to generate a recurring email message.
To do this, you’ll have to:
- Create a custom task form that creates an email message when the task is completed.
- Use this custom task form to create a recurring task, at predefined intervals.
- Mark the task complete when it’s due.
- Send the email when the boilerplate message is created.
Each of these sub-tasks is a bit of a pain, frankly, but you can read more of the details here if you’re interested in following it.
Improving Your Email Habits
Mastering your email productivity starts with a better understanding of your email habits. Unfortunately, Gmail and other email platforms offer limited insights you can use to meaningfully analyze your behaviors.
That’s why you need a tool like EmailAnalytics. With it, you can analyze and visualize dozens of metrics related to your accounts, including your total number of emails sent and received, your top senders and recipients, and more. Sign up for a free trial today, and see how it works firsthand!
Jayson is a long-time columnist for Forbes, Entrepreneur, BusinessInsider, Inc.com, and various other major media publications, where he has authored over 1,000 articles since 2012, covering technology, marketing, and entrepreneurship. He keynoted the 2013 MarketingProfs University, and won the “Entrepreneur Blogger of the Year” award in 2015 from the Oxford Center for Entrepreneurs. In 2010, he founded a marketing agency that appeared on the Inc. 5000 before selling it in January of 2019, and he is now the CEO of EmailAnalytics.