How to use CC and BCC correctly when sending an email

How to use CC and BCC correctly when sending an email
6 min read
20 October 2022


Today I come to complain about the e-mail. Complain about how badly we use it and how 2 little words that many ignore (use CC and CCo well) can save us time (and money) with email.

I have the slight feeling that every time I talk about productivity on this blog, I'm complaining. And that, in addition, I always complain in summer. Other years I've complained (indelicately) about how much I hate the cell phone while working or how stupid I find unnecessary meetings. So this time it's e-mail's turn. It will be the heat or that I have more time to reflect in the afternoons

E-mail can cost you €360,000 per year

The other day I read an article in the September issue of Entrepreneurs magazine that made me reflect. He was talking about a study on labor efficiency carried out by Professor Thomas Jackson.

According to the analysis carried out, the simple fact of opening and closing e-mails eats 25% of the labor expenses of some companies. This, for a company with 50 employees, can mean an approximate cost of €360,000 per year. And throw away more than 6 days of work a year. A real brutality.

The data made me go head to the task manager that we use in the agency. He wanted to check how much time he had spent in the last few weeks reading/writing emails.

I spend between 10 and 13% of my time with e-mail

Yes, as you may have guessed, what I saw in the task manager also surprised me and I ended up writing this article. In August alone I had recorded 13 hours dedicated to e-mail, almost 10% of my day!

I consulted July, already out of masochism, and the time shot up to more than 15 hours. Taking into account that:

  • Some days I was traveling.
  • Between holidays and intensive days, we talk about the "quieter" months of the year in Spain.

The number seemed crazy to me. In fact, I wanted to leave it there and I didn't consult other months of more activity so as not to get a scare.

If we add to these hours the time for meetings, budgets or phone calls, the actual working time is drastically reduced. You have to optimize time and look for solutions.

eye! I'm not saying it was wasted time, but it was poorly optimized. Many of the e-mails that we attend to in the middle of another task could be read at the end of the day or at another less critical time. We attend to them with priority when they are only informative, in many cases.

CC and CCo, the magic fields of email

After several paragraphs telling you about my adventures and misadventures, I return to focus on the important part of the article: how to use the CC and CCo fields of e-mail correctly.

I suppose that by now you will be clear about what these fields are, but I will clarify it for you just in case. The CC (With Copy) and CCo (With Hidden Copy) fields are, together with the sender, recipient and subject, the main fields that make up the header of an e-mail.

The CC and CCo courses have arrived… your new friends!

Many people do not know what these two fields are for. And others (among which I include myself) we do not always use them correctly even though we know their usefulness.

What is the difference between CC and CCo?

In essence, recipient, CC and CCo have a similar function: they indicate e-mail addresses to which our e-mail will arrive. But the 3 cases have different nuances:

  • Recipient (To): The recipient (or recipients) are the main people to whom an e-mail is addressed. They are those from whom you expect a response or some type of action (confirm a meeting, send a document, etc.)
  • With a copy (CC): the field with a copy should be reserved for those recipients whom we only want to inform of the content of the e-mail, but whose intervention is not vital (the director of the department, the person in charge of the account, etc). It is understood, therefore, that these e-mails have less priority than the others and that they can be "deferred digested" and not immediately.
  • With a blind copy (CCo): the field with a blind copy is very similar to the previous one, with the nuance that the users that appear here are invisible to the rest of the recipients. For me, these types of emails have even lower priority and should be used as a record, informative or simply "gossip". It is also used by many mindless people when they send spam in an unauthorized way. They put dozens of addresses in CCo. Or without it, which is even worse for our privacy.

How can we take advantage of the CC and CCo fields?

Some (most) email clients allow the use of advanced filters on the email inbox. If we all used these 3 fields well and coupled with moderate use of the "high priority/low priority" field, we could improve productivity tremendously:

  • The emails in which I go as a direct recipient, in a tray that I will consult and answer several times a day. And those that come with high priority, highlighted with a label.
  • The emails in which I go in CC or CCo, grouped in another tray to clear the main one and be able to consult them in a grouped way at the end of the day, for example.

I have proposed it as an objective of the new course. For now, the goal is to lead by example and always use the CC and CCo fields of my emails well. We'll leave for another day how irritating it is for me that all e-mails from a sender always come with high priority and acknowledgment of receipt. I have a theory: when everything is urgent I stop knowing what is urgent.


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wasim tariq 124
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