Do you feel like you spend so much time dealing with the emails that go along with your business you barely have time to do anything else? Emails are a vital part of business, and well, life in general! Inbox overwhelm is a real thing.
What if I told you you could delegate the majority of your emails to a virtual assistant? You likely wouldn’t believe me. But it’s absolutely doable. Let’s look into how you can hand over your inbox to a virtual assistant and free up hours of valuable time each week.
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When I first started telling people I was a virtual assistant, many didn’t know what that meant.
After explaining what a virtual assistant actually does, the response was often “Oh wow, I need that. Can you help people with emails??”
Keeping your email organized and maintained seems to be a common issue. If you struggle to keep up with the emails for your business, hiring a VA to manage them could be the answer.
Email Management With a VA
The next question I’m often asked is “but how can YOU sort and reply to MY emails?”
It’s really not as complicated as you might think.
First, I like to create various folders. Often there will be emails coming through that you don’t NEED to see but you may want a record of.
For example, things like receipts for automatic payments, email newsletters, notifications of product sales, etc.
I may make folders such as:
• To Do
These folders will obviously vary, depending on my client and their individual business.
My goal is to sort through your emails every day, deleting the spam, responding to general questions (more on this shortly), sorting the newsletters and receipts, and finally, moving the things that require YOUR attention to a folder you will check every day.
The idea is to streamline your inbox into these various folders and have just ONE folder you need to check on a daily basis.
Using Email Templates
I mentioned above that in some cases, I actually reply to emails for my clients as well.
Now I know you’re thinking, “there’s no way a VA would know how to respond to my emails”. And at times that may be true. But I’m talking about those emails that come through on a regular basis that ask the same questions all the time.
Emails that you respond the same way to each time. This is where templates come in! Take some time to create a few templates based on questions you receive regularly. It may take some time to put them together but it will save you hours of time in the long run.
Once these documents are created, you can train your VA to use them to respond for you. You can store these templates as a Google Doc, an email draft, or in some cases (depending on your email program) you can store templates right in your email platform.
As time goes on and your VA gets to know you and your business better, they’ll start to know exactly how your business works and how to best respond to things.
Alternatively, you can create a frequently asked questions file that your VA can forward on to clients as they ask questions.
Or create that FAQ file just for your VA so they can either refer to it when needed OR they can create templates for you based on the information you provided in the FAQ.
These systems can take some time to set up and may take a bit of trial and error to see what’s working. However, once an effective system is in place, you’ll be spending far less time in your inbox and gaining valuable hours you can use running and growing your business.
Stop Typing To Save Time
Maybe typing isn’t your strongest skill. Or perhaps writing, spelling, or grammar don’t come naturally to you. No problem!
Open up your voice memo app on your phone, tell your VA exactly how you’d like them to respond to an email, text that memo to them, and your VA can then dictate your response into the perfect email response.
They can then send the email on your behalf or forward it to you to double-check and send it on as needed.
Creating Draft Emails For You
If this all sounds intriguing but you’re not sure you’d be able to relinquish control over your emails you can also hire a virtual assistant to draft your responses for you.
Maybe you know what you want to say but don’t have time to compose the perfect response. Simply send your VA your response in very rough, point form thoughts. They can then take the time to craft a professional email, and put it in a Draft Folder for you.
You can then check all the drafts, edit anything necessary and send them off signed as yourself.
Save Time Reading Emails
How often do you read through an email only to realize there was nothing in there you needed to know or respond to? You’ve likely wasted hours of time on emails like this.
Your VA can read those emails for you and bring them to your attention only if:
- They have important information you need to know (like important dates/appointments)
- They require your attention or response
- They ask questions your VA doesn’t know how to answer yet
More often than not they’re probably just newsletters you’re subscribed to that you don’t need to read through.
Oh and while we’re on the subject, a VA can also take the time to unsubscribe to all those pesky newsletters for you!
Maybe there are certain emails you get that you then need to forward to another staff member or department. A VA can learn who gets what and how to forward things to the right person.
Perhaps you receive lots of invoices or receipts. Your VA can forward those on to whoever looks after paying the bills and bookkeeping.
Life and business happens via email these days. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and spend more time than you want to keeping on top of emails.
Not sure if outsourcing your inbox is right for you?
I’d like you to try a little experiment. Start the timer on your phone each time to check and respond to emails. Tally up how much time you spend on them each day, or even better, each week.
Would your time be better spent elsewhere? If so, you may want to consider hiring a VA to free up some of that valuable time. More often than not, they’ll offer a trial run so you can see if it’s going to be a good fit.
There will be a learning period where you’ll spend time familiarizing your virtual assistant with how you manage your emails. But once they are familiar with how you operate I’m confident you’ll wish you’d asked for help sooner.