Email is a massive drain on productivity for Entrepreneurs. It’s time to fight back!
Below I share how I’ve cracked the code and now enjoy phenomenal email freedom.
I’ve helped other entrepreneurs do the same, including a few famous guys including Andrew Warner, founder of Mixergy.com:
“Tim finally solved my email inbox. I’ve tried everything else – helpdesk software, shutting off email with an autoresponder (people were really pissed), and I considered secret second email inboxes and none of it worked. Until I used Tim’s advice, and now I’m finally free.” – Andrew Warner
Here’s what I told Andrew…
7 Steps to Email Freedom
1. Trust Your Assistant
First, you must trust your Assistant.
You *do* have an Assistant, right? They’re more affordable than you think. Read on and I’ll show you how to get one if you’re still managing everything yourself…
Trust takes time. Wouldn’t make it the first task I delegated to a new Assistant; in fact, I’d probably wait 6-12 months, *and* do a criminal record check, *and* references, *and* sign a confidentiality agreement.
This is one of the reasons I only hire USA / CAN Executive Assistants – the laws are similar, and the legal systems are too. And I could hunt someone down if I really needed to.
Also, make sure you’re using Google Apps / Gmail. If you aren’t, switch over immediately – you are extremely late to the party. Every day you aren’t on Google Apps, you are missing out on a massive productivity jump. Ditch Outlook, your PC, and 1995… it’s time for Google Apps.
2. Mass Unsubscribe
Run Unroll.me to get rid of 95% of email subscriptions (except from: Ryan Levesque of course!). There’s no sense making your Assistant repeatedly delete unwanted emails. As many outsourcing experts say, “ELIMINATE – Automate – Delegate.” Eliminate as many recurring emails as you can before handing over to Assistant. If you’re worried about privacy, immediately unsubscribe from Unroll.me afterwards.
3. Create Private, “! – Tim Review” Label
In Gmail / Google Apps, create a “! – Tim Review” label. The “!” makes it appear at the top of your list of labels. This is the one label your Assistant can never-ever click on. They could if they wanted to, but they won’t because they’ve promised they won’t click on it, and you trust them. **This is the one leap of faith in my system. But if you trust your Assistant (see above), the leap won’t feel as big.**
4. Filters for Loved Ones ONLY
Personally create filters for your loved ones. And perhaps a lawyer or accountant. Filter their messages directly to your “! – Tim Review” label.
But no one else gets the full-filter treatment, not even your most A+ clients, peers, associates who pay you big bucks or have big influence.
This is because you can actually give *better* service to your A+ clients, associates, friends, if you have the team approach (you + Assistant) to your inbox. Sometimes when $500/hr clients have written me with something simple (e.g. scheduling, getting a file from me), Sarah will intervene to get them an appointment (or whatever) as fast as humanly possible.
5. Hand Over Root Access
Handover root access – username and password – to your most basic email account.
NO SECRET EMAIL ACCOUNTS: it sounds fun and effective in the short-term, but sooner or later word gets out and it all falls apart, and you’re back at square one. Take the leap and give your most root-level, ground-zero, no-other-places-to-hide email account.
NOTE: this was a brutal, painful moment-of-truth for me. Sarah had to pry my email inbox out of my hands. You’d swear I was a crack addict clucthing to the last piece o’ rock in the county. Expect this to be difficult and painful. I hope you are pleasantly surprised, and I want to tell it to you straight, it could be emotional.
Looking back, though, my blinding fear was truly ridiculous and childish. Now I wish I would have made the jump years earlier. You’ll feel the same way.
6. Coach Your Assistant for a Week
Look over your Assistants shoulder for a 4-5 sessions of 45-60 mins each. Coach them on how to file away messages, and how to answer on your behalf.
You’ll be amazed by session 4 or 5 when they’re really starting to pick it up. Within a week, they’re rolling with you.
TAKE NOTE, THIS IS REALLY IMPORTANT: When your Assistant answers, they will answer from your email account, and will always open with:
“Hi Firstname, this is Tim’s Assistant Sarah. I got to your email before Tim did, and I thought you’d appreciate the fastest possible reply, so… (insert whatever the reply is).”
…literally, and legitimately, most recipients will feel tickled to receive such speedy, white-glove service. We’ve received great feedback.
7. Check Only Your “! – Review” Label
From now on, only check your “! – Tim Review” label.
Obviously, if you need to (Assistant is sick, and/or you’re waiting for a really important and urgent email to arrive), you can easily check the main inbox. But your general rule, now, is only to check your personal “! – Review” label.
You’ll see your Assistant will take care of 90%+ of your email, and you’ll suddenly wonder what the hell you used to do all day.
How good is this system? I stress-tested it twice last year. In Jan 2015 I went to Jamaica for 8 days, with no email, phone, or text contact of any kind. (And no Slack, Project Mgmt, etc… so – NO CONTACT.)
Repeated the test in July 2015 when I went to Hawaii for 10 days. Same disconnection from work, and same amazing outcome – total freedom and relaxation!
The combination of this email system, plus my great Assistant Sarah, plus all the other systems and DMGs I have setup with her, and I enjoyed a blissful tropical holiday, no problems at all. Sarah took care of it all.
And best of all?
When I came home, there was no “Welcome Home” avalanche of 500 emails. Just a few, which took me less than an hour to reply to.
Yes, my friends, Email Inbox freedom truly is at hand.
If you don’t have an assistant yet, here’s a colossal colossal shortcut to getting one…
Our Great Assistant Program was created after many Entrepreneurs kept asking me to help them find their own ‘Sarah’ to take over their inbox along with all the other $15/hour tasks they deal with on a daily basis.
It’s not for everyone, but if you see the value and the amount of time they can take off your plate, then this could be the right program for you.
Onwards and Upwards,
P.S. Leave a comment below if you’ve been struggling with your email inbox and what has worked for you.