Rebuild Your Workflow
In this chapter:
- Focus on being productive, not checking your email
- Train your VA to respond to emails on your behalf
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, taking a step back—and redefining your relationship with your inbox—can make the difference between a kick-ass day and 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:
Check email every ten minutes. 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.
Stop Reading Your 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 <DEL> 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 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.
- You just saved a small bit of critical early-morning brainpower. The 28 other distractions never even had the chance to infect your brain.
- You’re only thinking about exactly two important things. And these are the most important things you should be thinking about. It’s like eating food where you only bite the tasty OR nutritious parts (which are oddly always very different).
Make Your VA Your First Line of Defense
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 set up 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 <insert funny secret reference>, 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.
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