Email is not your friend. Email is like your obnoxious neighbor Chad who enjoys playing the bagpipes early Sunday morning. But, worse because on top of being kinda annoying, your email is cleverly disguised as a productivity enhancing super-buddy. It slowly drains you of all your time, focus and output by constantly distracting you with other people’s demands, no matter how ridiculous they may be.
You want to spend time with your spouse, your kids, your dog, your best friend, your animatronic clown – but no, you’re spending time with email.
When you woke up this morning and checked your inbox, did email tell you that you it had saved you a bunch of time and you had the day off? Did email do your work for you?
Email asked if you’d be interested in buying a bunch of crap you don’t want. Email made you attend a meeting with that annoying biz dev guy Ted. Email added 50 things to your task list that you may not ever even need to finish.
Did email invite you to a cool party that turned into an 80’s movie? No, email most certainly did not. Because email… is not your friend.
You don’t have to live like this, and we can show you how to change it.
We can show you how to build the tools and systems to make email work for you. We can save you an incredible amount of time if you’re willing to just switch up some of the typical hat you’ve grown accustomed to.
So, be sure to tune in for the next 5 weeks, and we’ll be sure to deliver the cure to the email addiction.
** Our Self Conscious Disclaimer **
While we make lots of references to using a virtual assistant it’s not just because we want you to use our virtual assistants (although you totally should). Many of these tactics can be employed without the use of an assistant, or can be used with your existing soon-to-be-replaced-by-Zirtual assistant 😉 Changing your process is what’s important here – how you get it done is up to you.
Do you often feel as if you’re working for your email, instead of your email working for you?
You are not alone.
Tackling the unwieldy beast that is your inbox can feel like a full-time job. But, by taking a step back—and redefining your relationship with your inbox—can make the difference between a kick-ass day…or a day that kicks your ass.
The first challenge we’re going to tackle is the fact that you probably don’t have an email workflow to begin with.
Your workflow probably looks like this:
Spend every 9 minutes checking email. Respond as soon as someone sends you anything. Let email determine how your day is going to play out.
When it should look more like this:
Have someone else review your email. Sort everything based on what you should spend time thinking about. Check email once a day to see what’s changed. Focus on being productive, not checking email.
Take a look at your inbox when you first wake up in the morning. Out of the 30 new messages you’ve gotten since you went to bed a few hours ago, how many of them are critically important?
Probably not many.
Yet you just spent a bunch of time scanning them, responding to them, filing them for later, and generally burning up valuable cycles just “processing” email. Was that lots of fun? No. Was it the most productive thing you’ll do today? Well, we certainly hope not.
The moment you start processing your own email—the vicious cycle of distraction begins. You now have 30 micro assignments that you have to think about that a few hours ago didn’t exist. You just gave yourself a ton of work, even if you went wild with the delete key, because you made the mistake of even processing this information to begin with.
Now imagine a magic email fairy could have read through all of those emails while you were in dreamland and left you with only two emails to read – the two that you actually should care about. What if that same said mythical-but-probably-alluding-to-a-virtual-assistant fairy could have sorted all of the other mail so that if you ever needed it, you could find it, but would probably never bother looking because it was filed away for a reason.
Two things just happened in that magical scenario.
To do this properly you need to start by making your VA your first line of email defense – all the time.
The goal here is to get you 100% laser focused on the most important stuff that you’re great at. The stuff that you get paid to do. Anything that’s not super important needs to go into the Recycle Bin of life.
To do this, you need your VA to have access to your email and be willing to train them on how to respond on your behalf. That training and the super ninja tips are what most of this guide is about.
BTW, if you’re a bit weirded out by having someone else read your email (other than the NSA, most first world governments, and your Network Administrator) you can setup filters within most email systems so that mail is automatically forwarded to your assistant based on who the contacts are. No one will ever know that you are Batwoman, we promise.
Once you’re willing to allow someone else to be the first set of eyes on your email (remember you can always check it if you really, really, really want to) you set the stage for putting some serious automation in place.
Rebuilding your workflow is the first of five critical steps to ensure your email is a tool for productivity—and not your arch nemesis.
Protect your brainpower and team up with a Zirtual Assistant as your first line of defense.
Wil Schroter is the Founder + CEO @ Startups.com, a startup platform that includes Bizplan, Clarity, Fundable, Launchrock, and Zirtual. He started his first company at age 19 which grew to over $700 million in billings within 5 years (despite his involvement). After that he launched 8 more companies, the last 3 venture backed, to refine his learning of what not to do. He's a seasoned expert at starting companies and a total amateur at everything else.