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Chris LoCurto

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August 4, 2011

Stop answering all of your emails?

August 4, 2011 | By | 9 Comments">9 Comments

When Michael Hyatt, the guru of the blogosphere, gives you an amazing idea about a post, you write it! Recently Michael sent this message:

Michael’s talking about the dilemma we all face when we’re so slammed with work that we can’t find time to get to all the emails. Well, the best thing to do is get someone else to handle your emails. That comment just lost me a ton of trust points with a lot of you, but stick with me.

One of the things I like to do in leadership training is teach people how to focus on only the vital parts of their job or business. And honestly, sometimes email just ain’t it. In fact, there is a great deal of email that does nothing but distract us from the larger goal. In his book Time Traps, Todd Duncan talks about how email and instant message constantly causes us to lose the momentum we have on a project, because we’ve trained ourselves to believe that email is so important.

If you’re only getting a few emails a day, this probably isn’t an issue. But if you’re getting hundreds, what do you do to redeem your time? Some of our leaders here at Dave Ramsey‘s organization have their assistant or personal assistant handle them, at least for a specific email account. (Read Please Help Me! to understand the difference between an assistant and a personal assistant.) In essence, the email address you give the general population, or gen pop as referred to on TV prison shows, is not the same one you give close business contacts, friends or family. You only give that email address to folks you can trust to keep it private.

If you already have a personal assistant, then that person is probably taking care of all of your appointments. Some of us never even see appointments, they go straight to the personal assistant since they really are the ones who control the calendar. Therefore, letting your assistant take over most of your emails isn’t that big of a step. I know it seems weird, but as long your assistant is mature and responsible, handing off those emails simply means those folks will be served by someone who will do a better job than you could.

How do you make the transition? Carefully and with clearly defined expectations:

  • How old are you? – First thing you must have before you hand off your emails to someone is maturity in both parties. Your assistant must understand that everything they read is considered extremely private. It’s not to be discussed with anyone. Now, you really should only be handing them things that aren’t so private, but understand that one will slip through from time to time. You also have to understand that they didn’t just become your pit-bull. You still have to handle the tough stuff when it comes up.
  • Ummm, I have a question – This person needs to be able to come to you with questions about answering emails on your behalf. Schedule a time if there are a lot of questions, so it’s not death by a thousand slashes. Otherwise, the occasional one-off is necessary. This is also a good time to see just how well they respond as “you.”
  • Where would you like me to put this? – You should also seriously consider a folder option where they can put emails they know you will want to review and respond to personally. The changeover will take time, and there will be a lot of stuff that has to run through you. You can set up rules in most email systems for those emails to dump into a specific folder you check once or twice a day.
  • You missed one – It’s highly likely that you will receive stuff into your “private” email that your assistant can take care of. Don’t be afraid to forward that on as the trust level is built.

Question: What ways has an assistant made your life easier?

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  • http://gravatar.com/lgthaxton Louise Thaxton

    An assistant has made my life not only EASIER – but much more PRODUCTIVE! I can focus on my strengths while assigning to an assistant some of those tasks and duties that do not require my PERSONAL touch. One of those areas is an e-mail account where clients can reach out to us for information on purchase or refinance opportunities – and my assistant handles all of those e-mails – I haven’t gotten to the point of assigning someone to answer my main e-mail account – that may take a while! Excellent post!

  • VickiB

    Excellent post!

  • http://www.VirtualOIfficeAdvantage.com Tiffny Hagan

    I attended EntreLeadership Nashville in April of this year and since then have been reading your blog. I was so excited to come across “Stop answering all of your emails?”. I have been both a Virtual Assistant and Personal Assistant for over 15 years and this is truly a huge time saver for my clients. Every word you said rang true. The value of an excellent assistant is measured in the way they serve the people they work for. Looking forward to reading about your next question, “What way has an assistant made your life easier?”

    • http://Chrislocurto.com Chris LoCurto

      That’s awesome! I actually have that in the works! :-)

  • http://joelfortner.wordpress.com Joel Fortner

    Yeah I guess this is a little better than shift+delete.

    • http://Chrislocurto.com Chris LoCurto

      Hahaha…yeah, perhaps a little.