I have a long history with Gmail and an even longer history trying to avoid paying for software to run my business. I finally decided to up my storage within Gmail after I had to do my 3rd email backup in 3 years as I was running out of free storage space. I know nothing could ever get better than Gmail for my emailing needs to I ponied up the $3 per month for 10x the storage.
Recently, I started letting my email go. I first reasoned that 300 emails in my inbox is fine. Then reasoned that 400 was fine. Then I took a vacation and it went to 600. Finally it crept up to 800 and I knew I needed to make a change.
First, I tried the whole “Inbox Zero” techniques. I created smart labels but then gave up on using them. I rid myself of labels and archived everything (this came back to bite me a few times) and I installed some apps within Gmail to help get rid of the spam/mailers (shoutout to Unroll.me). But nothing seemed to work. I was spending the same amount of time but I was now “managing my email” instead of “managing my business”.
My brilliant solution? Turn over my email to the one person who always has less than 10 emails in her inbox at all times for help – my personal assistant.
Sara is super organized and checks tasks off of her to-do lists faster than you can write them down. Needless to say, she wasn’t happy with the 800+ emails staring back at her when she entered my gmail account.
Here are the 5 steps we took to roll out this beautiful strategy that instantly increased my productivity:
1. Get an assistant – I am fortunate in that I have an assistant who can manage my email for me already on payroll. I understand that most of you probably do not have this luxury. Don’t fret – head over to Upwork.com and hire a Virtual Assistant for like $2/hr to manage your email on your behalf.
2. Create Special Labels – We are creating 2 different labels where the bulk of the emails will go. The first is called “### Action Items ###” and the second is called “### Unsure ###”. By using hashtags, these folders will show up at the top of the Labels list and close to my main folders. Anything that she feels I need to take action on, she will move to the Action Items folder. Anything she isn’t sure what to do with, she moves to the Unsure folder. And everything that is either informative, resolved or she can handle simply gets filed. I get a simplified to-do list which has become my new “inbox”.
3. Schedule time for your assistant to address your inbox – I anticipated problems if she was moving my email around all day as I was trying to manage it myself. So we created some timeframes to follow. Sara will be organizing my email between 9:30 and 10am each morning, primarily cleaning up the mess I created from the day before. I will use this time to plan her day and organize my own. If you’re using a Virtual Assistant, this can be done while you sleep.
4. Give your assistant the freedom to take on some of the tasks she discovers – I spend a lot of my day forwarding emails to my assistant and keeping her informed of deal flow. This is the ultimate move towards transparency for my business by giving her complete access to all of my email conversations. I also encourage her to be proactive with resolving any issues for me that she finds within my emails.
5. Tell close friends, family and staff that your email is public – The last thing you need is a sexy message from your spouse showing up or a confidential email showing up for your assistant to read. Inform those people who could potentially send you a private message to use your personal email or one of your social media profiles.
Has this or a similar strategy worked for you? Let me know how you did it below.
Nekst is an application that helps real estate agents & their teams remain highly organized & extremely productive.
Whether you have a system for your business or you are creating one for the first time, Nekst is here to tell you what to do and when to do it. Put your brain to better use and let Nekst remember the details.