How to know when you are ready to delegate

Monday morning, clocking in, coffee and open emails. They’re in the hundreds, no thousands even. Where do you start?

Meanwhile, your friend has been going on about “inbox zero hero” what does that even mean nowadays. Surely there will never be a point in business where you have zero emails to worry about at the end of the day, can there?

Business boomed, quickly. It was so good, work was coming in from all directions. Now that inbox is daunting. Haunting every call you make, flashing red when ever you open a new email. Now is the time to take action. Reducing your digital clutter is no easy task, why not ask someone else to take over?

You know you are ready to delegate your work load when you can’t keep on top of it yourself. For the most part those emails, while they are important you could probably delete half due to unqualified leads or sales pitches. Perhaps some of them are doing the same thing you do, why would it be worthwhile working with your competitors? There is a time and place for all of these people, only you have neither the time or place for them with the state of your inbox.

When looking to delegate tasks, you should be comfortable with the person you are working with. Make sure you know what is expected from you and vice versa. This is not an employee relationship, this is a business partnership. A Wing-Woman to assist you with the tasks which you cannot cope with. Ensure you are 100% comfortable with this person as they will be rooting through your emails getting you to the point of inbox perfection.

Before you head off into the world of business partnerships, make sure you know what you are looking for.

  • Make a list of tasks you want to delegate. Find some one who is able to do what you require.
  • Figure out what you are able to afford. While it is good to keep in mind your budget, VAs and Wing-Women have their own business and expenses. You won’t get a platinum service for the price of a take away.
  • Research the market. Look into who you will be working with, find out if there is anyone local or search for multiple VAs/ Wing-Women and get to know what they do.
  • Speak with other people who have hired a virtual assistant/ Wing-Woman. If in doubt, recommendations go a long way. Speaking with people who have been in your position and have hired a VA/ Wing-Woman, will know what you are going through and understand it is a tremendous task. They will be able to provide some much needed assurance for the inbox zero hero you are craving.

When you have done the above, only then can you begin a partnership, be honest and open with your VA/ Wing-Woman as they need to know what tasks you require from them. They will not be happy if you hire them for a digital declutter and end up asking for content writing. This is not what you have agreed with them. Keeping the partnership honest and open is the best policy for a happy working relationship on all sides. Not only will you be happy, so will your VA/ Wing-Woman and it keeps HMRC from asking questions which shouldn’t need to be asked if you stick to your agreement.

A VA/ Wing-Woman should be your life jacket when business takes off and becomes too much to handle. Taking them for granted is a puncture in the making. If you aren’t ready to let go of some tasks then wait until you are. No one will resent you for waiting until the right time to start a very important business partnership. When you are ready the right Virtual Assistant/ Wing-Woman will be ready and waiting for you to get you back on track.

Blog, Business, Inbox Zero

Is it possible to achieve InBox Zero?

You’ve returned from your lovely sunshine break to an inbox is full to the brim. Cue overwhelm! Is inbox zero achievable?

Inbox zero is a phrase Merlin Mann devised 10 years ago to describe a completely clear inbox. The reality is that a 100% clear inbox is a difficult thing to achieve and trying to attain it can cause you a great deal of stress. With these simple steps you can start the journey to reducing that intimidating inbox:

  • Set designated times to read and reply.

This will depend on you and how you like to work. I tend to check first thing in the morning, after lunch and then again around 3pm. Set a sensible time limit each time, for example 15-minute slots. If you find you have distractions/interruptions then block this time out in your calendar.

  • Keep your inbox just for email.

Try not to use your inbox as a to-do-list. There are some great apps out there for this such as Trello, Asana, Wunderlist which are fully customisable.

  • Response time.

Aim to reply to business emails within 24 hours, personal ones within 72 hours.

  • Can you call?

Could you avoid lengthy email exchanges by telephoning/skyping the sender? A 5-minute telephone chat could save you both lots of time.

  • Set a target.

If you have hundreds of emails, then inbox zero is simply not achievable in one day. Set yourself a realistic target.

  • Folders.

Set up four folders:

  • Archive: completed emails that you need to keep
  • Delegated: sent to another member of staff to deal with but you still need to monitor progress
  • Awaiting response
  • Action needed

Move your emails to one of these folders if you’re not able to delete them.

  • Deal with urgent emails first.
  • Time specific/ Deadlines.

Decline or accept invitations to meetings/ events. If your email app/ program does not automatically update your calendar, then ensure you add or delete the event as needed.

  • No longer relevant.

Have you received emails regarding lost property or car parking that occurred while you were on holiday? Delete them- they aren’t needed.

  • Newsletters.

If you haven’t read a newsletter within a week, chances are you won’t find time in the future either. Send those unsubscribe emails to stop these unnecessary emails clogging up your inbox.

  • Forwarding.

If an email needs forwarding do it immediately and then delete it from your inbox.

  • Quickies.

If a response will take 2 minutes or less, then respond to it immediately and clear that email!

  • Group/ Project

If you’re receiving emails regarding a group or project that you’re no longer involved with then email the sender to request that you’re taken off the list and delete those emails!

  • Filters.

Going forward the best way of keeping your emails organised is to set up filters. This will mean the organisation is automated! Perfect! You can set up filters by sender, topic, all sorts. Once set up the emails will automatically bypass your inbox and land in the allocated folder. Set up of these filters will vary from app to app.

These are very simple tips just to get you started. If you need a helping hand with your emails/ inbox organisation, I offer monthly packages on retainer or ad-hoc First Aid for Email packages. Contact me if you’d like more details.

Christina Manson, Wing Woman and Productivity Coach

CJM Business Support

Originally published 03.01.2019 ©Christina Manson