‘Hell is the daily tsunami of CC emails that I have to manage! Is there a way to automate a response so I don’t have to take any action when I’m triaging them?’

That was the cri de coeur from one of the people on a recent training programme where we were driving best practice workload, email,  prioritisation and critical result management through Microsoft Outlook.

We had already covered a lot of productivity principles, processes and behaviours on managing massive email volumes and conflicting priorities during a busy training day but this was a heartfelt cry and I was asked for an answer.

So here is one further suggestion about automating a response on CC mails.

How to send out an automatic response on all emails where you are in the CC box

After all, in Best Practice email management, CC means ‘this is a ‘carbon copy’ of something I am sending to someone else to take action on and I’m only letting you know about it as a courtesy so you are kept in the communication loop and I don’t expect you to do anything with it specifically’

You can use this approach to do 2 things:

  1. Manage the expectation of the person sending you a CC email
  2. Remind them about a basic email management principle about CC emails

All it takes is for you to create an Email Rule in Microsoft Outlook to send out the auto response. Here’s how to do it:

In Outlook 2010 go to your inbox and hit ‘Rules’ in your Home ribbon and select ‘Manage Rules and Alerts’
In Outlook 2007 hit the ‘Tools’ menu and select ‘Rules and Alerts’

Under ‘Start from a blank rule’ select ‘Apply rule on messages I receive’ (2010) or ‘Check messages when they arrive’ (2007)
Click ‘Next’
In Step 1 select ‘Where my name is in the CC box’ then ‘Next’
In step 2 select ‘Have the server reply using a specific message’ then – in the lower rule build up box hit the hyperlinked text ‘a specific message’ to give it a value.
You will see a blank email form pops up. Populate it with your preferred subject line. The body text of your mail and your signature for this mail, then hit ‘Save and close’.
You will now see that your subject line is in the lower rule build up box. Great! Hit ‘Next’
You can add exceptions to the rule if you wish – I don’t! So simply click ‘Next’ and then ‘Finish’.

Then next time you are CC’d into an email conversation the sender will get your caring words of wisdom back immediately.
So, there you have it, an additional automation step to add to all our Best Practice high volume email management processes and behaviours.

Obviously there is so much more to the management of high email volumes, competing and conflicting priorities, heavy workloads and tough targets, and still having the energy and enthusiasm to enjoy a fulfilling evening and feel refreshed for the battle next day.

If you want some seriously practical training on workload, email and critical results management you know what to do, don’t you?

Yep, simply get in touch now! Feel free to let me know what you think and what else you do the manage the madness that is email in busy businesses.