What is sketching? I’ll explain how to do it in a sec, but sketching is a tool I use to streamline all sorts of written and verbal communications (and other stuff, too). Today I’m going to show you how to use it to make quick work of Thank You notes.
If you’re like me, you might write more thank you notes if it didn’t seem so overwhelming. I have no idea why writing a simple note can feel like pulling weeds on the hottest day of summer. But sometimes it does. So rather than spend unnecessary time analyzing this, I’m working on just getting past it.
Sketching helps. A lot.
How To Sketch
Once you’ve done it a few times, sketching your thank you note should take you about a minute. But sketching before you begin will ensure that when you put pen to stationery, lovely goodness flows out like warm chocolate ganache. mmm… yum.
It goes like this:
1) Get a sheet of scratch paper. The back of a grocery list works just fine.
2) Write the name of the recipient at the top. If you have a big piece of paper you can sketch several notes on the same sheet.
3) Jot down in short phrases things you want to thank the person for. Stretch yourself here. Of course you want to thank them for their generous gift or for hosting you at their place last weekend. But also think of other things you are grateful for; their friendship, their thoughtfulness, the special effort they made, their attendance at your party, their condolences or wise words, or the way they always make your children feel special. You get the idea.
4) If the above list is thin, jot down a few elaborations on the one or two things on the list. How perfectly the gift suits you, the timeliness, or something you particularly love about it. If you’ve received a gift of money, it’s always nice to mention how you intend to use the gift, so include this in your jotting.
5) Add any details or specifics about anything that comes to mind regarding the person or the gift, including affirming and encouraging comments about them as a person (skills, virtues, etc) or your relationship.
The idea here is to get your mind flowing with content, words, and phrases that you can draw from when you begin to write. You don’t need to use sentences at this point, just capture words that will remind you of things to mention.
Sketching At Work
I’m including a Thank You note written from the sample sketch so you can see how it relates and naturally flows from the sketch. (Yes, there are errors in it.) This post isn’t about what to include in a thank you note, but I think having a script of some kind is helpful, and the line items in bold below are the script I use.
Hopefully you can see how by having already sketched my note, I can easily refer to my “script” and knock out a personal thank you note quickly and easily.
2) Open with a positive statement.
This depends on what the thanks is for, but could express enjoyment of your time together or thoughtfulness of the overall gesture. One of the general statements from your sketching should be usable for this step.
(Today it is popular to open the letter directly with “Thank You for the ____”, but this was not always the practice (Check out early Emily Post for some fun examples), and I find it nicer and easier to begin with a line of affirmation. Try it each way a few times and see what you prefer.)
3) Specific thanks (w/ elaborations)
This will make up the majority of your note. Use the list you jotted and thank them for the items on it. Use standard writing conventions (correct grammar and spelling), but write like you talk. You’ll likely have several sentences without much effort.
4) Looking forward…
Mention something about your future with them if possible. “Hopefully we’ll see you…” or “I’m looking forward to our dinner next month,” for example. If you have no plans or intent to see them, you can either omit this item or include something general like, “hopefully our paths will cross soon!”.
5) Restate thanks
Just a nice “Thank you again for …” is perfect.
6) Sign it.
Choose a sign-off that fits you. “Love” is popular among girls for people they know well. You can choose just about anything (google it if you need ideas), just make sure it fits your personality and your relationship with the person you’re writing. If the person is older than you or has a position above you and is not a close friend, use something more traditional.
(On the other hand, when writing people we know well, the Dude and I often sign-off with anything from some icon (maybe a smiley or heart or a small drawing), to some ridiculous song lyric. You can also just sign your name if it seems to flow. I feel like signing off with something particularly warm or personal is a great way to end a note to good friends. This is not standard practice, however, and many people would frown upon it, I’m sure. Overall, it should feel right to you and sound like you.)
The Heart of the Matter
Hopefully you can see how the one-minute sketch allowed me to write a lengthy, personalized Thank You with very little additional effort. Because I had several positive thoughts running through my head about my friend’s mom before I got started, the letter came easily. The whole note took me about three minutes to write. Also notice how I was able to write more than a few sentences, even though technically all I was thanking her for was letting me drop in on her and some friends.
For me, knowing that I can be done in five minutes flat helps me take the Thank You plunge more often.
…how about you?…
You’re now armed with your new secret weapon: Sketching. Take it out for a spin. Is there anyone you could thank today for a recent kind gesture or timely word? Grab your Notes Bin and address book and write one. Let me know how it goes!
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