Does the sheer volume of messages in your inbox overwhelm you or inhibit your productivity?
Being a Virtual Assistant, most of your business communication is done through email. Therefore, you expect to spend a lot of time managing email.
According to research conducted by the McKinsey Global Institute, “The average interaction worker spends an estimated 28 percent of the workweek managing e-mail.” Based on a forty-hour workweek, that means over 11 hours are spent on email management.
That’s over one-fourth of a full-time employee’s work hours.
Is all that time needed to manage your email or is it time spent distracting you from other tasks and hindering your productivity?
Email destroys your productivity if you spend too much time going through and responding to emails. Therefore, it’s essential to create an email management plan that allows you to spend your time focused on the tasks you need to accomplish rather than using email as a distraction.
Tips for Boosting Your Productivity without Letting Email Be a Distraction:
Designate specific times during the day to check, respond, and prioritize your email. Limit yourself to checking email twice a day that works with your schedule.
However, checking email first thing in the morning is just a procrastination tactic that is veiled in productivity. It seems like it is necessary and useful, but it only puts off the tasks that you truly need to accomplish.
Begin your day with a productive mindset instead of getting bogged down by your inbox. First, accomplish the most important task (or tasks) on your to-do list. After doing so, schedule in 20 to 30 minutes to manage your emails.
If you don’t get through your inbox within that scheduled time, move on to another task you need to accomplish and address the remaining emails during the time you have scheduled in the afternoon.
As a Virtual Assistant, it’s imperative that you limit your distractions while completing client tasks. Since you can only charge clients for the time you spend working on their tasks, it’s important that you avoid the temptation to check your email while in the middle of client tasks.
Productivity Tip: If you’re someone who uses email to procrastinate or distract you from the task at hand, set a timer while you’re working on tasks. While on the clock, block out all other distractions and focus solely on working on that specific task.
As a virtual assistant, you have emails from multiple clients to manage. To help organize your inbox, create individual folders for each of your clients to house important emails you may need to reference later. If you have more than one project going for a client, consider making a subfolder for that project for future reference.
Additionally, make a “To-Do” folder, to store emails that you can’t immediately resolve but need to address in the future.
Creating folders will save you the time you spend searching your inbox for that specific email from a client. The folders ensure that you can quickly and efficiently find the correspondence when you need it.
Take Immediate Action
As you go through your inbox, take immediate action for each email.
- Immediately delete emails that are unnecessary and that you don’t need to read.
- Respond to client emails. As you know, it is best to respond to clients within 24 hours. Respond to the client to acknowledge receipt of the email and create a deadline for follow-up. If you can’t address the email immediately, add it to your to-do list.
- Add items to your to-do list. As you go through your inbox, be sure to add any tasks or requests from clients to your to-do list and store those unresolved emails in your “To-Do” email folder. By doing so, you ensure you don’t overlook those tasks and they are stored in a folder where they can easily be found for future reference.
Having a plan to take immediate action allows you to make quick decisions. You know exactly what to do to effectively manage your email. You avoid wasting time dealing with correspondence or additional tasks you didn’t schedule in your day. Overall, you end up being much more productive.
Are there messages that you never read? If so, unsubscribe from those lists. Once you’ve done this, you will minimize the time you spend sifting through unnecessary, unimportant emails.
Unsubscribe from any list that you delete right away without opening. By doing so, you will cut the time you spend dealing with undesired emails.
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