Email Tip 3: Do not use the reply all option

Here's the logic, 
  • We all get too many emails!
  • We all send too many emails!
  • We all speak of email as we do about traffic when we are stuck in it!
What do I mean? Well when we are in a traffic jam we refer to the traffic being bad as if we are not part of it , but actually we are part of that collective term of traffic, if we were not there ourselves there would be less traffic.  The same can be said for email, if we sent one less email there would be less "traffic" for the recipient.

So what's the suggestion? If every email we receive, that we need to reply on, we look at the recipients and the people copied on it and assess whether they need to be copied on our reply. Sometimes people are included by the originator to show that they are doing something, so once copied the goal is accomplished and the copied recipient does not need to see the rest of the conversation because they know the conversation is going on.

There is a feeling sometimes that we have to respond in kind and make sure the same level of management is copied from our team, this means you have told your boss that you cannot handle this alone, and have entered into a "my dads bigger than yours" scenario, which sometimes has to be done, but does it in this case?

If you need to let your boss know or one of the recipients know that you are dealing with the email, send the a copy of your response separately and say "For information only no action required" (yes bold the no action) they will know you have it in hand but will not be exposed to a deluge of traffic they do not need.

Great so that helps everyone else but not me I here you cry! 

I disagree, and here is why 
  • it will reduce the number of people in the conversation therefore less traffic on that subject
  • if we do this and get everyone else to through feedback to our team overall traffic will reduce
  • if we got the world to do it, life would be a bed of roses
A non scientific formula  to back my view up 
  • Number of reply all emails sent on average per day = X = 2 (low number)
  • Number of recipients copied average per email that could be removed = Y = 2 (low number)
  • Number of email users in your team / company  = Z = 2000 
X * Y * Z = emails saved per day 
 2 * 2 * 2000 = 8,000 per day 
 2 * 2 * 2000 * 5 = 40,000 per week 
 2 * 2 * 2000 * 5 * 4 = 160,000 per month
 2 * 2 * 2000 * 5 * 4 * 12 = 1,920,000 per year
Average time to deal with that email = 3 minutes
Annual time saving =  5,760,000 minutes / 96,000 hours / 12,000 mandays / 60 full time equivalent (FTE)

This is a crude calculation but probably on the low side and but he number staggered me the equivalent of 60 people to do something different. Also bear in mind this does not take into account the exponential nature of an email reply all everyone reply-all-ing to all reply all has potential for greater savings.

If you think from a project management point of view if you have a average project team of 50 people instilling this could save you 1.5 FTE, how many of invest a large amount of time trying to get one or two people approved and assigned to our project or team?  

To help be do this I changed my email program to move the position of the REPLY ALL button to be away from the REPLY button so that it makes me think before doing reply all. Since then we moved to Outlook 2010 but cannot figure out how to do it yet, so if anyone out there knows how then let me know.



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