Some people have 100s of messages in their mailbox - unread for weeks and months. Maybe they've already seen them via Blackberry or iPhone. Maybe they glanced at the subject and decided it's not relevant. Nevertheless the ever growing Inbox becomes a source of frustration and stress. Are you really keen to tackle it, if you have only got 10 minutes and it says you have 578 unread messages?
However the problem doesn't have to become so unmanageable. All you need to do is to employ some regular mailbox hygiene and efficiency rules and follow them daily. So we are sharing our virtual assistant's secrets with you and offering our top tips of efficient email management:
About "Get Things Done" - time management system:
Step 1: Gather up every single thing that requires action on your part: unopened mail, emails, voicemails, countertop clutter, reading materials, scary catch-all cabinets you can barely open. Make a list of those tasks, projects and items.
Step 2: Process each and every item by determining a "next-action": the very next thing you need to do, either to resolve an issue or at least keep it moving toward completion. Many items you'll only need to file or throw away. Some hard-and-fast rules:
Step 3: Fill in your “trusted system”. Put your action steps into categories where you can review and complete them easily. Develop the combination of calendar and written contextual (e.g. to phone, to print, at home) action lists that will work best for you. Have a separate file for projects (tasks that require more than one step), “maybe” list and “waiting for others/something” list.
Step 4: Set aside time each week to review your action lists, so that no items go uncompleted, by going through Steps 1 to 3 and reviewing your lists and calendar.
Step 5: Get Things Done: consider your context, time available, priorities. Ensure that none of the 3 kinds of activities (pre-defined activities - things already in your calendar or on your lists; work as it shows up; and defining your work - planning, scheduling, making lists, setting priorities, brainstorming) overwhelms the other two. The key pitfall is letting seemingly urgent new items distract you from planning, as well as from equally important stuff that is already in your system.
So by applying 8 steps every day and by regularly reviewing your Inbox management practices you will be able to achieve the desired Result: lean Inbox, clear Objectives, completed Action lists, information at your fingertips and a lot less stress for you next time you open your emails. And don't forget: email management is one of the core services offered by any good Virtual Assistant.
Member since: 8th May 2012
I'm a Virtual Assistant offering secretarial, book-keeping and social media marketing services to small businesses and self-employed professionals. I design and write e-newsletters, blogs, websites and...