The McKinsey Global Institute has revealed an alarming statistic: The average employee spends 474 hours per year sorting through and reading unnecessary emails! Yikes! Not only is that extremely unproductive (and somewhat annoying), but it can also result in many overlooked communications due to accidental use of the delete key. Please take the short quiz below to determine whether this post could prevent you from wasting nearly 20 days of your life each year.

Have you ever found yourself in these situations before?

  • Realized that you just CC’d your entire team unintentionally.
  • Found an important email in trash days later.
  • Wondered, “Why am I included in this email?”
  • Felt that the idea of cleaning up your inbox is about as easy as catching a greased pig.

If you answered yes to any part of the quiz, then the below guidelines can assist you in perfecting your email etiquette:

To CC, or not to CC

The dilemma of choosing recipients for the CC list lies in CC’ing the correct amount. CC too many people and you might end up overwhelming inboxes and burning opportunities to get attention for your emails when you really need it. CC too few people and you run the risk of failing to share information and keep colleagues in the loop.

To escape this dilemma, let’s look at possible scenarios and the corresponding actions:

  • A. FYI to keep people “in the loop”
    • a. If the “in the loop” or “need to know” group is large – Don’t CC. Instead, forward a copy of the email to the larger group (use the TO field), but tag the email as an FYI, and explain at the top of the body why you forwarded the email to them and make it clear that they have No Need to Respond (NNTR).
    • b. If the FYI groups are 1-2 people – Do CC and address directly. Address them directly in the original message, near the top. For example, “Hi Mary – I’m writing to summarize our meeting. Mark, I’m copying you because I wanted you to know what we agreed upon.”
  • B. Approval NeededDo CC and address directly. Address your manager directly and invite his/her input. For example: “Mary, let’s follow Plan A. Mark, please let me know if you disagree.”

Checklist before sending out each email:

1. Double-check “To” and “Cc” fields – Exercise caution when considering ”CC” and “Reply All”. Before clicking send, make sure this email is necessary to every recipient.

2. Public information – Is the information in this email requested by a lot of colleagues? If so, sharing such information on the network (such as the public or department drive) will be a better alternative to an email.

In closing, it’s important to keep a lid on your email, and you can do so by starting with some of these easy tips. By knowing who your audience is and the information you’re sharing, you can get your time as well as your sanity back, so you can get done what you really need to do.

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