Appear Super Responsive All the Time
Episode #5 of the course Hacking your inbox for maximum productivity by Wil Schroter
In this chapter:
• Write stock templates for frequent scenarios
• Tips to master the art of deflection
Have you ever had one of those days where you wish there were two of you? You could finally unglue your fingers from your iPhone and maybe grab lunch with a friend? Or go on a long run without feeling like things are falling through the cracks?
Well, what if I told you that we have the technology? We can clone you!
You get to be “fun clone.” The other clone is “robot clone.”
While you’re out having fun, robot clone is going to do all of your email work for you, making you look super responsive to every email all the time.
Before you get too excited, we’re not really going to clone you or create a cool Terminator-style android version of you. In fact, we’re just going to team you up with a virtual assistant who, perhaps to your dismay, is really just a real person who helps you get stuff done.
We will, however, use a combination of smart automation and clever use of your VA to make you look like you’re responding to everyone all the time without actually being forever chained to your email.
ACTION: Create Stock Response Templates
If you go back through your emails and really analyze the common themes across your responses, you’ll start to notice some patterns emerging. Oh, you don’t spend your time doing chronically OCD things like pattern matching your email? Well, sadly, we do.
We want to create a series of stock responses to the most common questions and situations. The goal of these templates is not only to respond freakishly fast to every inbound email but also to use that email as a way to help identify whether we need to prioritize, deflect, or destroy these requests (see Step 1).
Here’s a typical scenario involving prioritization:
1. Bono from Accounting: “Madonna, can you review these expense reports and let me know if they look right?”
Note: You already told your VA that Bono is an A-Lister in Step 1, which means we know this request can’t be entirely ignored (yet).
2. Your VA sends this stock response: “Bono, thanks for sending. I’m a little buried right now, but if you think this is a priority, I can move it to the top of the stack—just let me know.”
Note: You just did two really sweet things there with no effort; you gave a quick response (without touching your email) and you put the ball in Bono’s court to tell you—and your VA—how urgent this is so it can be prioritized accordingly.
Here’s another scenario involving deflecting:
1. Sting the Biz Dev Salesman: “Madonna, I’m inquiring as to whether we can set up some time next week to talk about the amazing opportunities we have available to you. I’d also like to combine the words synergy, peer-to-peer, and vertical markets into this email for no good reason.”
Note: You’ve told your VA that Sting is a B-Lister (his time at the police notwithstanding), so your VA is going to fire off a stock response to gauge whether this can be deflected.
2. Your VA sends this stock response: “Sting, thanks for reaching out. I may be able to meet but it would probably be 3-4 weeks out. Can you shoot a message to my assistant (email provided) and see what we can do?”
Note: This time, you’ve done three things at once. You’ve given Sting a long window, which buys you time to punt later, you’ve moved the conversation off your plate to your VA, and you’ve allowed the VA to control the outcome of the conversation, which will involve more rules that we will set up later.
Use stock response templates to respond to inbound emails freakishly fast and determine how to prioritize the request.
“Don’t Reply All: 18 Email Tactics That Help You Write Better Emails and Improve Communication with Your Team” by Hassan Osman
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