Not to sound cliche, but one of the main reasons that you chose to start a business and become an entrepreneur was so that you could be in control of your own schedule.

There are so many things in life that you can get more of when they run out – but unfortunately, your time is one of those rare things that you can never, ever get more of. When it’s gone, it’s gone forever.

And for most entrepreneurs, there’s actually one thing in particular that sucks away hours of time every week – but everyone ignores it, because it’s become so ingrained into their daily routine that the mere suggestion of ditching this activity could send them into a panic.

I’m talking about email.

I’ve always known that entrepreneurs spend a lot of time in their inbox every day managing, writing, and responding to business related emails – but because I wanted to know exactly how much time, I needed some actual statistics.

So in anticipation of writing this blog post, I did some research. Unfortunately, the only available stats that I could find were based on “business professionals” or “the average worker” – and they painted a picture of a person working 9-5 in an office building, five days a week.

Well, entrepreneurs are not “the average worker”, so I decided that the only way I was going to get real results, was to poll my own audience of entrepreneurs (81% women). If you were one of the ones who made this research possible, THANK YOU!!

Okay, so first I’m going to share the results of the poll with you, and then I’ll share some tips + strategies to help you take back more of your time every week.

The Results Are In…Here’s How Many Hours a Day You Really Spend Managing, Writing, and Responding to Business Related Emails:

email survey results

  • Less than 1 hour per day: 16.09% entrepreneurs spend about 7 hours per week in their inbox.
  • 1-2 hours per day: 56.32% entrepreneurs spend about 7-14 hours per week in their inbox.
  • 3-4 hours per day: 24.14% entrepreneurs spend about 21-28 hours per week in their inbox.
  • 5-7 hours per day: 3.45% entrepreneurs spend about 35-49 hours per week in their inbox.
  • More than 7 hours per day: 0 (thank goodness!)

Now that you’ve seen the scary truth, and you’ve decided that you want to do the opposite of what everyone else is doing and spend those inbox hours doing something fun instead…

Here’s how you can get your inbox under control AND get more time (you know, that really, really rare thing that you can never seem to get more of?):

1. Hand Your Email Over to a Pro + Do Something Rad Instead (like take a day off)

There’s absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t have an assistant manage + respond to the majority of your business email.

But I get it, email seems so personal, right? You feel like you have to personally respond to everything, otherwise people won’t like you, and they’ll think you’re one of those snooty entrepreneurs that doesn’t even have the decency to reply to your own email.

Truth is, now more than ever before, it’s become the norm for clients and customers to reach an assistant rather than the business owner directly. In fact, when you get right down to it, they don’t really care who answers their email or support ticket, as long as someone does and provides them with a solution. Heck, I love being able to avoid contact altogether if the business has an FAQ section that will answer my question.

But I’m a coach or a service provider, I can’t do this…

Sure you can! The less time you spend in your inbox, the more time you’ll have to actually coach your clients and get client projects done so you don’t have to be in your office working so much.

For Example: When I had my website redesigned, the business owner replied to my email once at the beginning of the process, and then the rest of the time I was in contact with her assistant. It worked out great because they had all the forms and documents ready to collect all the information they needed to complete the project. Her assistant knew what she was doing, and she was able to answer all of my questions and get all the files to me. I didn’t care that the business owner wasn’t emailing me documents or updates, in fact, the more time she spent working on my actual project, the faster it would get done.

My guess is, a lot of the email that lands in your inbox could easily be managed by an assistant.

You can have your assistant manage emails relating to:

– Answer the common, repetitive questions
– Help your customers get their downloads
– Send the paperwork to your clients and answer their 5000 questions
– Weed through JV + interview requests and send “thank you emails”
– Send in all your information for interviews + schedule your call
– Send in all the information for a giveaway event you’re participating in
– Handle PayPal disputes and chargebacks
– Manage refund requests
– Schedule client calls
– Managing client cancellations
– Send payment request emails to clients + manage followup questions
– Send quotes to potential clients + manage followup questions
– Contact and manage vendors and subscriptions
– Manage your travel plans
– Manage customer/client questions on social media
– Send post event client followup emails
– Send JV program invitation emails
– Send referral request emails
– Send client reactivation emails
– Send client testimonial request emails
– Send rate increase emails
– Send problem client termination emails
– Send new client refusal emails
– Send client who wastes your time termination emails
– Send client boundaries emails
– Send client missed appointment emails
– Send refund refusal emails
– Send cancellation recovery emails
– And so much more!

If you take all of those things out of your inbox, how much will be left? How much of a load off would that be for you?

If you’re spending 5-10 hours a week dealing with email that an assistant could easily manage – that’s 20-40 hours a month that you’re not creating programs + content or marketing your business. Imagine what you could do with an extra 20 hours a month?

Find + hire an assistant and take back your time. You can also get my done-for-you letters that your assistant can use to help manage your email.

 

2. Cool Tools (and even a game) to Tame Your Wild Inbox

These are some neat tools that I’ve come across – however, the only one I use is the support desk system because my team manages 99% of my business related email.

Support Desk System – Using this system your assistant can set up an FAQ and macros, manage tickets + voicemail and voicemail transcripts, it can also integrate with social media, and offers live-chat capabilities. It’s also easy to have a manager overseeing your client care rep because they view all the conversations (you can too). It also makes it easier for you to bring on new assistants because you can just add them to your support desk, or remove them later if you need to. I also have it set up so when someone replies to a broadcast email, it automatically creates a ticket in the support desk that my team can then see and reply to.

SaneBox – Is a tool that will help you filter out unimportant email from your inbox so you can focus on the important stuff. It has features such as: defer an email until you’re ready, followup reminders, snooze your emails while you’re on vacation, and more. You can even have your assistant receive your SaneBox digest so they can process your unimportant emails for you.

Unroll.Me – This is a tool that combines all your email subscriptions into one email, once a day. For the best explanation, check out the site to see how it works.

Boomerrang – Works with gmail to help you schedule emails to be sent later. So it basically lets you take control of when you send and receive emails.

Batched Inbox – This is another gmail tool that helps you deliver your emails at times you specify. So you can set it to have all your emails flood into your inbox at 9am and again at 4pm, that way you won’t get distracted by incoming emails throughout the day.

The Email Game – If you love games, you should check this out. It’s a fun email challenge game that gives you 30 seconds per message (more for longer messages) to manage each email – the timer starts, and you can’t let it get down to zero or you’ll lose points.

 

3. Hot Tips that Will Turn Your Naughty Inbox into a Real Lady

If you’re not quite ready to hire an assistant, there are still a few things you can do on your own to make your inbox more manageable. There’s probably a lot of neat tips and tricks that your email program can do, so take the time to read their how-to’s and learn how to make it work for your specific needs.

Create an FAQ

You can easily set up an FAQ section right on your website using a plugin (do a plugin search in your WordPress dashboard and you’ll find something). To create your FAQ, you can either sit down and make a list of all the common questions that you think your clients may have, or you can start a document based on the questions that you.

Once you have the FAQ section set up, you can start training people to look there first – when someone emails you asking a question that you have an FAQ for, just send them a quick reply that points them to the answer at your FAQ section.

Create Canned Responses

This term always sounds so unsavory, but it’s actually very helpful for you and your clients. If you find yourself answering the same questions over and over again, but they can’t really be made into an FAQ – start creating a database of email replies that you can pull from. Then when it comes time to reply, just pull out the response you need, copy + paste it into the email, tweak it for the individual client, and send. It will save you hours of time typing out the same reply to everyone individually.

For Example: At my support desks (I have more than one), my team has created a database of responses that they can search from, edit, and apply to a ticket as the response. This is especially helpful if, for example, I were to send an email promotion to my list, but forgot to include the coupon code – my team can create a canned response about that issue, and they can apply it to anyone who submits a ticket asking for the coupon code. 

Create Folders

Folders can help you keep your emails organized. This is especially helpful for all those emails you need to keep – like receipts or logins. Just create a folder for all the different things you have coming in, and then when you’re done with the email, move it from your inbox to the correct folder. If you need to find it later, you’ll know where to look (use the search feature to find it fast).

Set Up Filters/Rules

Using filters or rules will help you automatically funnel emails to the correct place. For instance, you could set up a folder for each one of your clients, and then create a filter/rule that automatically sends any email from that client to their client folder. You could do the same for emails from PayPal – to keep your main inbox folder uncluttered, create a filter/rule that sends all email notifications from them into a separate folder that you can look at later if you need to.

But filters and rules are also helpful for teaching your inbox what to do with spam emails. You can create filters/rules based on the sender’s email address or what’s in the subject line – that way spam/junk goes right into the trash.

My challenge to you is to take back all those hours you’re spending in your inbox, and start applying some of these strategies immediately. And then reallocate those saved hours towards working on money-making tasks in your business, or spending time out of the office enjoying your life!

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