Recently I received a handwritten Thank You note. It was odd because it was thanking me for a handwritten Thank You note I had sent a few weeks ago. Of course, I did what anyone in this situation would do -- I sent a handwritten Thank You note in response.
If this sounds ridiculous, it is. In truth, however, my new note-exchange friend was just as excited and surprised to receive a handwritten note as I was. These days, email and texting have made it extremely efficient to send notes -- but it has killed the intangible impacts that handwritten notes deliver.
I have been sending or delivering handwritten notes for years. It is a practice that derives from a former boss who had a habit of leaving me handwritten notes of appreciation regularly. At the time, I was young, inexperienced and impressionable, and the notes always made me feel like the work I was doing was important and having an impact.
More important, it motivated me to give even more effort.
And while the value of handwritten notes is clear, finding the time to handcraft a written message can be difficult. With these planning and preparation tips, however, you too can send off personalized notes in less time it takes you to power up your iPhone and fire off a text -- well, almost.
Stock Up on Note Cards
You don't need to spend a fortune on note cards. Find a bulk set of Thank You cards that fit your style or just opt for a selection of simple, blank note cards. Either way, you will spend far less money and time than if you go to the store and buy individual greeting cards.
If you want to get even more creative, consider designing your own note cards. In doing so, you can add your name, create special messages (#thankyou) or include images and styles that match your personal brand.
Moreover, it has never been easier to make your own personalized cards. With a Canva.com account and a little time at Moo.com, you can create very professional-looking note cards. They are a little more expensive, but you will find the cost is worth the impression you will make.
Stock Up on Stamps
If you are mailing cards more often than delivering them in person, stock up on USPS forever stamps. Again, if you want to get more creative, buy stylish postage stamps that will really set you apart.
Prep Everything in Advance
Much of the labor of filling out a handwritten note can be avoided by a few preparatory steps. First, pre your envelope. Write you name and return address or apply pre-printed return labels. Pre-stamp all of your envelopes as well. Trust me, it is worth the 49 cents to never have to look for a stamp when you need one.
Also, if you do not customize your card with your information (example: "From the desk of"), pre-write everything you can on the card, including your name and company, or just include a business card with your information.
With these mundane aspects out of the way, you will be more motivated to take out a card and fill it out.
Use a Pen You Love
Interestingly, expensive pens rarely feel or write as well as I like. In fact, I often find new favorite pens at restaurants or attached to forms. Of course, I give them back, but I note the brand. Right now, I am loving Papermate gel pens.
Handwritten notes to many seem "last century." Maybe it is, but because of their rarity, they can have a greater impact now than ever before. And while this habit can take time, preparation can help you send them off with regularity and efficiency.
In the end, remember when you consider the return on your time and resources in terms of appreciation, happiness, motivation, and productivity of those around you, you will find it well worth the investment.
This article originally appeared at Inc.com.