Send Fewer E-mails and Help Save World Productivity (An Excerpt from “The Busy Lawyer’s Guide to Success”)

Excerpted and adapted from The Busy Lawyer’s Guide to Success: Essential Tips to Power Your Practice by Reid F. Trautz and Dan Pinnington.

We all have a tendency to send and reply to e-mail messages when it is not absolutely necessary. E-mail messages are just so darn easy to create and send. In North America alone, tens of billions of e-mail messages are sent every day. All those messages end up in someone’s inbox. Time to think globally and act locally. You can help. Before you hit Send, consider these questions and pointers to help you send fewer e-mails:

  •  Does everyone in the To: line really need to get this message? If not, delete their names.
  • Does every person in the CC: line really need to get this message? CC is intended to be helpful, but is actually quite dangerous. We all start with good intentions and start adding names for reasons that are totally unrelated to the actual message. Resist the temptation! If they aren’t on the To: line already, it probably means something. Ask yourself: who really needs to be CC’d on this message? Include those names, and leave the rest out.
  • When using Reply-to-all, does everyone that got this message in the first place really need to see a reply to it?
  • Use distribution lists or group addresses very sparingly and only if absolutely necessary. It is certainly more efficient to reach out to a group with a single e-mail address, but only when absolutely necessary.
  • Never use the Everyone group address (unless you smell smoke).
  • Meeting RSVPs should usually go to just the sender, or does everyone need to know if I will or will not be attending the meeting?
  • Don’t forward virus warnings! 99.99 percent of them are hoaxes.
  • Don’t forward jokes, SPAM or chain-mail messages. It is unprofessional to send a client e-mails of this nature. Not only does this waste your time, it wastes the recipient’s time and Internet capacity.




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