What if you never had to check e-mail again? What if you could hire someone to keep up with checking, sorting, even responding to your incoming messages. Does this seem like something a fairy godmother would wave her magic wand and grant as your wish?
What's holding you back from delegating someone to manage your email for you? Do YOU answer or respond to each and every email you receive? That’s impressive! But how much time does that cost you? How much face time to your computer or phone does that require? What is that time you've spent keeping you from? Focusing on revenue producing tasks, personal time, or other rewarding activities?
Checking e-mail isn’t some amazing secretive skill that you alone possess. It can be broken down into a process just like any other task.
If you aren't willing to give up total control, you can start with baby steps and progress as you feel more comfortable letting go. Here's how to get started:
1. Determine which email address (Inbox) will serve you best to have someone else in it all day long... you don't want to use an account that ALL incoming messages come into. Essentially, this would become your assistants INBOX. If you don't already, it's best to have separate professional and personal email accounts.
2. Setting up mail rules can help to sort incoming messages into predetermined categories. Nearly every incoming message will fall into predetermined categories you set up. By allowing your assistant to categorize and purge emails will save you time and get you organized.
3. Determine how to evaluate and handle existing and incoming emails. You can do this by forming a set of questions to follow. Based on the answers, your assistant can delete, archive or forward emails.
4. Set specific time(s) for your assistant to check and clear out the inbox. Clear out? Yes, if you are using predetermined rules, categories and sorting correctly, there should not be anything left in the Inbox. A morning time and afternoon would be best, such as 10 am and then 3 pm.
5. For the emails that may require your input for actions, you can establish a daily phone call with your assistant, near the end of the work day.
6. If you simply must respond immediately to an email yourself vs waiting for the next day for your assistant to respond, be sure to BCC them so they know you handled it.
7. Setting appointments and meetings takes time, a lot of time, if you are a busy professional. Allowing your assistant
schedule appointments for you will free up time. Set up specific blocks of time and days you are comfortable with your assistant scheduling meetings and appointments. You can have your assistant respond with 'scheduled' to any emails you send for appointments to be set. This way you can avoid missing any and your calendar stays up to date. Be sure your calendar syncs if you use your mobile device for managing your calendar.
8. Set up a time frame to test the waters and work out the problems. There will be problems. A 2-4 week work period is good. It will take 3-8 weeks to feel smooth sailing.
9. Expect small problems. Keep sight of the big picture and don't get discouraged by the little problems.
10. Now that someone else is managing your e-mail inbox, go find something to do with the time you are saving.
Questions to help you initiate mail rules:
1. What is your optimal response time? Respond to all e-mails no later than 24 hours after received? Same work day when received prior to 1 pm? etc.
2. What are your working hours? 8 am - 5 pm, 9 - 6, etc.
3. How many times a day to you want e-mail checked? 2 times ? Once before lunch and 1 late afternoon? 10 am and 4 pm, 11 am and 3 pm etc.
4. Do you want your assistant to respond as you or "Executive Assistant to (your name)" below their name?
5. Do you prefer a text or phone call for quick, time sensitive and/or important questions?
6. Label specific e-mails from " Susan " for you. No need for your assistant to respond or forward. This indicates to your assistant to move those emails into your labeled folder for you to handle.
7. Regarding managing your calendar. Do you have days 'off' (as in no business appointments)
8. What is your desired work week? How many meetings to schedule per day/week. How long between phone call and appointments? etc.