This is Day 9 in the 31 Days to Become a More Efficient Virtual Assistant Series
Previous post: Schedule Meetings Faster and More Efficiently with TimeTrade
Email. It’s the most important tool you have as a virtual assistant. Even if you’re using a project management tool such as Asana you’ll need to be on your A-Game when it comes to email management as email is probably the most frequently used method of communication for virtual assistants and the business owners they work with.
Proper, effective, and efficient email management may very well be the one skill that could make or break your virtual assistant business. You may think this is an exaggeration but I dare you to work with a client or team member who never “gets” your emails and to see what domino effect it has on deadlines and deliverables. I don’t really wish that on anyone because it’s a stressful and anxiety causing scenario. Don’t be that person who causes stress and anxiety!
There are people who love Outlook (I’m one of them) and there are others who loves Gmail’s web interface. Whatever you work with…learn it. And learn it well.
This post is geared towards those who use Outlook as that’s what I’m most familiar with (but if you’re a Gmail user check out these ).
Tips for Effectively and Efficiently Managing Email in Outlook
- Use rules and use them wisely: I use rules for a lot of things including auto-moving messages to specific folders, auto-deleting emails. Use examples: for that friend who added you to their email list without your permission and you don’t have the heart to unsubscribe or those damn newsletters you try to unsubscribe from but can’t, set up an easy-to-use auto delete rule.)
- Shave time off : If you have “template” wording you frequently use consider purchasing Template Phrases from AbleBits. You’ll shave time off of your work with a simple double-click. Example: I have a PDF receipt I send to a client’s customers and it always has the same wording that accompanies the customer specific PDF. The plugin allows you to just double-click on the desired pre-defined template, add in the personalized information, email address for the recipient and you’re ready to hit send.
- Auto-BCC to keep people in the know: Another paid plugin from AbleBits. Example: One of my clients uses Highrise and I have an auto-BCC set up so any email I send from my firstname.lastname@example.org automagically auto-BCC’s to the client’s customer profile in Highrise. I also have some subject line specific rules set up based on keywords I defined – e.g. any subject that has the word bookkeeping in it will automagically send me a copy of the email (which I often need for follow-up with the client)
- One Home: As of this writing I have 11 email accounts. Mine + 10 client specific email accounts. Outlook also makes it easy for me to design a client specific email signature which is automagically attached to any outgoing email from the account I’m using. The one word of caution here is to make sure you’re sending emails from the right account.
- One Calendar: No matter what email account a calendar event/invite is sent to it’s all in Outlook for me. If you also need to keep your Google Calendar up to date, especially helpful if you use a scheduling tool such as TimeTrade, then you’ll also want to check out this paid plug-in, gSyncit.
What other tips do you have for effective and efficient email management? Share them with readers in the comments below.