An Email Management Plan to Boost Your Productivity as a VA and VE®
Aug 11, 2020
Does the sheer volume of messages in your inbox overwhelm you or inhibit your productivity? If your answer is YES to both, you’re not alone. Most Virtual Assistants and Virtual Experts® lose hours daily to their email inbox. You can take back your time by creating an email management plan that will boost your productivity.
Being a Virtual Assistant or Virtual Expert®, most of your business communication is done through email. Therefore, you can expect to spend a significant amount of time managing email.
According to research conducted by the McKinsey Global Institute, “The average 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 VA's work hours. And those are primarily non-billable hours. YIKES!
Is all that time needed to manage your email or is it time spent distracting you from other tasks and hindering your productivity? Email used as a distraction can easily destroy your productivity. So let’s talk about how to get that under control.
Here are some tips for creating an email management plan that will boost 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 or three times a day. For example, you could check it before you begin your workday, then again at noon, and finally before you stop for the day.
Or you could begin your day with a productive mindset instead of getting bogged down by your inbox. Start by accomplishing the most important task (or tasks) on your to-do list. After doing so, schedule in 20 to 30 minutes to manage your emails.
Whatever time you decide to check your email, be sure to set a timer, and stick to the 20 or 30 minutes you’ve allotted for email. 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 next time you have scheduled for email management.
As a Virtual Assistant and Virtual Expert®, 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.
As a Virtual Expert®, 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 sub-folder 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
If you touch an email more than once before deciding what action to take, you’re wasting valuable time. So, as you go through your inbox, take immediate action on 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. At the minimum, immediately respond to the client to acknowledge receipt of the email. If you can’t address the email in full immediately, add it 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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