The simple inbox hack that helped me reduce email traffic by 50%: a (very) short step-by-step guide

How many emails do you receive on a daily basis? How many are actually important? How would you feel if you could cut the number of emails that land in your inbox by half? What would you do with all that spare time?

I’m not going to try and sell you on why reducing email traffic is important. If you’re reading this, I’m sure you know. Since you’re bought in, let’s get to it. Read on for one of the best email hacks I’ve ever implemented.

The CC Inbox

After an embarrassing email blunder early in my career, I discovered the power of the CC Inbox, and I haven’t looked back since. The CC Inbox is a special email inbox that is automated and strictly reserved for emails that you are CC’d in to. By diverting all CC email to their own special location, you’re creating more space in your primary inbox, and in your day, for the email that actually matters.

The unspoken etiquette of the CC email is that it should be reserved for people for whom the contents of the email are for informational purposes only. Adding someone into the CC field of your email should be a courtesy. An act of simply keeping them up to date. So, with this in mind, if you are CC’d into an email, there should not be anything critical or urgent in the contents of that email for you.

Since the contents of the email is not a critical or urgent matter for you, and presumably does not include any tasking or require a response, shuttling said emails to a safe and accessible location to review at a more convenient time shouldn’t be a problem for the sender, and will definitely free you and your inbox up for more important email.

How to make it happen

  • Create a new folder in your navigation pane and name it ‘CC Inbox’.
  • Filter your primary Inbox to find all the emails you’re CC’d into. Drag and drop all of these emails into your newly created ‘CC Inbox’ folder.
  • Create a rule that shuttles all future emails that you’re CC’d into straight to your ‘CC Inbox’ folder.
  • For convenience, drag your ‘CC Inbox’ folder to the top of your navigation pane and drop it under your Inbox; this will allow you to easily keep tabs on how many CC emails are coming in.
  • Check your ‘CC Inbox’ folder at a frequency that suits you and your workflow. I check mine just once or twice a week, and in preparation for important meetings, just to make sure I’m up to date.

What to watch out for

Not everyone understands some of the nuances of basic email etiquette, and it might happen that your boss or a project manager requires a response or includes some tasking specifically for you in an email you’re CC’d into. This is problematic for obvious reasons.

To avoid this, start by monitoring your CC Inbox on a more regular basis. As you notice who requires a response or includes tasking for you in your CC emails, simply let him or her know about your new inbox rule, and request that they send such emails directly to you in the future. Then reduce your CC Inbox monitoring over time.

Enjoy. I hope this little email hack helps you get more done.


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