One of the first tasks I advise that you outsource to a VA is your email management. It will save you time and it is a lot easier to outsource and delegate tasks than you might think. I outsource all of my email, social media and other messages and notifications. My VA then files, archives, deletes, forwards and replies for me.
This means I have gone from about 300 messages per day to less than 10 that require my involvement!
So how did I manage to do this successfully? I built a simple system, which is a spreadsheet that my Virtual Assistant has created and now fills in when new emails come in that need a filing or action rule.
Here's how you can get started with outsourcing email management:
1) Hire a VA/PA, which you can find via Upwork, People Per Hour (UK £10-£30 per hour) or onlinejobs.ph - (Philippines £3-4 per hour). You can also use a VA agency and pay them to manage your VA for you.
2) You then need to grant your VA/PA 'Delegate Access' to your email inbox. How you do this will depend on your email provider. For Google, please visit this link: https://support.google.com/mail/answer/138350?hl=en
3) Get your assistant to setup a 'FAQ and Rules' spreadsheet with the following 5 columns:
- SENDER'S EMAIL
- FILING LOCATION
4) If in the beginning, you have a pile of emails already in your inbox, this could be 100s or 1000s of emails that are cluttering up your inbox, just move them all to a new folder called 'Old Inbox'. This way you can find them later if needed. You can ask your Virtual Assistant to work through these over time, or just get them to prioritise any new emails that come in from the point they start working for you.
5) When a new email comes through to your inbox, your VA/PA will add it to the spreadsheet (first 3 columns) and over time build up rules on how every email you receive is dealt with. This will then be a guide for anyone you are outsourcing your email management to in the future. If your VA takes a holiday or leaves, you can easily delegate the task to someone else.
6) Forward your new emails to your task management app. I use a task management app called Asana (www.asana.com), to communicate with my VA. See this Facebook Live about how to use this app: http://bit.ly/Appy-Mondays-3-Asana
7) On the task management app, comment with the required step (reply, unsubscribe, archive, file, and/or required action). I use the app to discuss each email or message that requires my involvement. This means I (almost) NEVER open my email inbox 😊. The main advantage is that we discuss messages and I can ask for input, research, resources before my VA replies on my behalf without ever leaving my task management app. This is the app where I run my entire business from!
8) Your assistant actions the email and updates the Rules sheet. Creating an FAQ is a useful resource for your VA to reply to queries on your behalf. Every new query is added to the FAQ along with your response which will be used next time. By having an FAQ it makes your email management even easier for your VA.
9) Create process maps for more complex actions. (I recommend www.lucidchart.com)
10) Repeat Steps 5-9 each day. You will find that after around 2-4 weeks you will have a rule for 90% of the emails that come into your inbox. Your VA will just need to check what action was done last time. They can then repeat the process and then file the email into the correct place.
All that is then left for you to do is action the small percentage of new or personal emails that your VA brings to your attention. Ideally, you should get your VA to reply for you. This way they are kept in the loop and can chase people up, reply to simple questions and deal with most issues without your involvement. Remember replying back and dealing with simple questions is taking up your time, so delegate as much of this as possible to your VA.
Points for you to think about.
For my personal email account with access to my banks, I choose to use a UK based VA. However, for our business banking, we use remote VAs from the Philippines.
To back up all my invoices and important documents I simply forward all emails with attachments to Evernote (www.evernote.com). You can do this to G Drive, but I like the automatic OCR functionality of Evernote. This means you can search by any word or term in the attachment as well as the email body.
For invoices that my bookkeeper needs to see, I just have my VA move these to an ACCOUNTS folder. My bookkeeper has access to the mailbox (alternatively you can simply forward invoices to your bookkeeper’s inbox).
You can get your VA to use something like https://www.sanebox.com/ to help rationalise your emails. Although, I never bothered with this and just did the 10 steps above for my email management.
Want to learn more about how you can free up time by outsourcing your emails easily to your VA? Click the button to download our FREE Quick Start Guide.