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How to Manage Your Inbox With Your Assistant

Free up time to focus on what matters most.


Time is your most valuable asset, and email inboxes are where we spend the majority of our work time each week. Employees spend a whopping 28% of work time reading and responding to email, which is about 13 hours a week on average. Not only is a disproportionate amount of your time being consumed in your inbox, but it takes an average of 64 seconds to recover your focus from an email interruption.

At GYST we have the privilege to support the overflowing inbox set here in NYC, and we’ve penned the Ultimate Guide to Delegating Your Inbox to not only prove to you it can be done, but to give you and your assistant a road map to make it happen today. Imagine, 28% of your time is waiting for you.

First, let’s get all the worries out on the table. Why is it so terrifying to hand over the inbox to your most trusted associate? Here are the top three concerns we hear from our clients:

1. Privacy

I don’t want someone having access to my password.

We totally get it. Email is personal and you want to make sure you have control over who has access. Good news, both Outlook (for Mac and PC users) and Google have delegation services where an assistant can make a password of their own to gain access to your email. You have the power to revoke the access at any time. Outlook also has options where you can designate which emails your assistant can see. You can set the filters so that they’ll see all the emails coming in for your business while skipping the ones from your mom asking you if you’ve called your father for his birthday.

I don’t want someone to have access to my personal emails.

Some things are best left unread, unless of course your assistant is helping to organize your personal life as well. Create a second email address, or designate an existing secondary account for your friends and family to use. Only share the email address and password with your assistant when/if it’s helpful. By doing this you are sending a clear message to the people who have the email address that you value their messages, and will make it a priority to respond to every single one personally. You can also direct newsletters, special offers from your favorite stores and other opt-in mail to this address for easy access when you’ve got a second to check it out.

2. People will know it’s not me responding…

And feel like they are not important enough.

There are two routes to take here. You can teach your assistant to mimic your tone and style, or you can ‘fess up and tell your associates and peers how excited you are to have someone on your team who will make sure those coffee and dinner dates finally get on the calendar! Among GYST clients who have delegated email to their assistants, we hear overwhelming positive feedback that finally they are seeing their friends and keeping up with occasional coffee dates with business associates because their assistant is so on top of it. We are big advocates of the ‘fess up option. You should be proud you’ve taken the time to bring on a skilled team member to increase your capacity.

3. My assistant won’t be able to deal with most of what comes in.

Not at first.

When you start working with your assistant it will take about 2 weeks for you to get in sync and for your assistant to internalize your inbox preferences. After that you will be surprised about how much they can handle. Scheduling emails account for at least 50% of inbox clutter, so while you are here, take a minute and outsource that calendar too. Set a few simple rules for your assistant to follow, one of which could be flagging emails they aren’t sure what to do with, and you will see your assistant increase her own capacity.

It’s a little bit about you.

If you’ve hired an experienced, skilled and savvy assistant, performed the appropriate background and reference checks, and taken the time to make your preferences and expectations clear – it’s time to take a tiny step back. Your assistant can only use their best judgement and the tools you’ve given them if they have a little space and authority to do so. Any assistant worth your time will have a keen sense of when they don’t know something and will always stop and flag something for your attention later. It’s up to you to make the right hiring choice, and then to trust in the person you’ve brought on board.

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