Inbox Delegation to a Virtual Assistant: Our Guide cover

Inbox Delegation to a Virtual Assistant: Our Guide

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Email management can be very taxing and time consuming. You’d think it’s a simple thing to read through messages and reply to them. However, sorting your inbox can take so long it often diverts focus from crucial tasks. With inbox delegation, you can reclaim valuable hours in your workday.

When you delegate your inbox properly, things become much more efficient. You’ll get to respond more promptly to emails, with fewer messages slipping through the cracks. This streamlined approach lets you focus on high-impact activities, enabling you to allocate your energy where it’s most needed.

The operative word here is “properly.” Delegating email management only works if you’ve handed it off to someone who knows your preferences and processes. And, of course, it’ll only succeed if you want to delegate in the first place!

Why People Don’t Delegate Email Management

People have different justifications for clinging on to this tedious task. Here are only some of their reasons:

“Delegating Tasks Looks Complicated”

It’s totally understandable to worry about adding more work to your plate when delegating email management. After all, overseeing someone else’s handling of your inbox can feel like a task in itself. But here’s the thing: with the right assistant and a solid plan in place, delegating can actually lighten your workload in the long run. Think of it as an investment – yes, it might take a bit of time upfront to set things up and coordinate, but once your assistant is up to speed, you’ll have more time and mental energy to focus on the tasks that truly matter.

“I Don’t Want Any Data Breaches”

One big worry business leaders often have about delegating their inbox is privacy. It’s totally understandable—the last thing you want is for confidential information to end up in the wrong hands. So it’s crucial to find an assistant you can trust implicitly to handle your emails with the utmost care and discretion.

“I Have FOMO About Messages”

FOMO, or the Fear of Missing Out, is a real concern. Especially when it comes to email. We all worry about not being in the loop or missing out on crucial updates or opportunities buried in our inbox. But here’s the thing: delegating your email doesn’t mean you’re completely out of the loop. It’s more about finding that balance between staying informed and not drowning in emails. With the right assistant, you can trust that they’ll keep you in the loop on the important stuff while freeing you up to focus on what truly matters.

“This is the Way I’ve Always Done Things”

It’s tough to let go of the reins, especially when it comes to something as personal as managing your inbox. But here’s the thing: constantly hovering over your email can actually hinder productivity rather than help it. It’s all about finding that balance between staying informed and letting go of the nitty-gritty details.

By addressing these concerns with practical solutions and reassurances, individuals can overcome barriers to delegating email management and reap the benefits of increased efficiency and productivity.

Why Delegate Email Management in the First Place

People delegate their inboxes to assistants for several reasons.

Time Savings

According to a study by McKinsey, the average professional spends about 28% of their workweek managing emails. Delegating this task frees up significant time for more critical responsibilities, leading to increased productivity.

Improved Concentration

Constant email notifications disrupt concentration and workflow. Delegating email management allows professionals to maintain focus on important tasks without interruptions, leading to better quality work.

Efficient Communication

Assistants can respond promptly to emails, ensuring timely communication with clients, partners, and colleagues. This responsiveness enhances business relationships and prevents delays in decision-making processes.

Reduced Stress

The overwhelming volume of emails can contribute to stress and burnout. Delegating email management alleviates this burden, promoting a healthier work-life balance and reducing mental fatigue.

Our Complete Guide to Inbox Delegation

In this guide to inbox delegation, we cover everything you need to know to streamline your email management process. From overcoming concerns like privacy issues and micromanagement to maximizing efficiency, we’ve got you covered. First step to a delegated mailbox: decluttering!

Clean Up Your Inbox

Managing your inbox starts with clearing out what you don’t need. Start by muting email threads that you no longer want to follow. Here’s a handy walkthrough to help you do that:

  • Select the check box of the thread you want to mute.
  • Click on the three dots labeled “More” at the end of the options bar.
  • Select “Mute,” and enjoy having no more notifications from this thread!

Bulk Archive Old Messages

You could also do a blanket reset like bulk archiving old messages. You can do this in Google by typing the following in your search bar:

in:inbox before:YYYY/MM/DD

Doing this will pull up all messages sent before the date you specified. Simply check the box under the “Mail” tab and click on the button beside it, “Archive.” This will let you hide all messages that fit the conditions you have set.

Unsubscribe, Unsubscribe, Unsubscribe

And then, further declutter by unsubscribing from irrelevant newsletters and promotional emails is crucial for improving productivity, reducing distractions, and maintaining focus on essential communications. Wondering whether to hit unsubscribe? Here are things you can ask:

How Many Emails Do They Send?

If the newsletter floods your inbox daily or multiple times per week with content that isn’t immediately relevant or valuable to you, consider unsubscribing. Opt for newsletters that align with your interests and are sent at a frequency you can manage.

Are Their Emails Valuable to Me?

Assess whether the content of the newsletter consistently provides value or addresses topics of interest to you. If you find yourself regularly deleting or ignoring the emails without reading them, it’s likely time to unsubscribe.

Do They Always Send Unsolicited Promos?

If the newsletter frequently includes promotional offers, advertisements, or sales pitches that you’re not interested in, it may be cluttering your inbox unnecessarily. Focus on newsletters that prioritize informative content over sales-driven messaging.

Answering these three questions will jumpstart your inbox decluttering and ensure that the newsletters you receive align with your interests, preferences, and professional goals, leading to a more organized and focused email experience.

This is all too much for me to do!

If you’ve accumulated too many subscriptions and messages over the years, no worries! You can just delegate decluttering to your virtual assistant.

You can use your Personal Preferences Document to leave instructions on how to identify which messages and newsletters to keep and which ones to archive or unsubscribe. We will discuss how to build a personal preferences document later in this article!

Set Up Delegate Access

Next, you need to grant mailbox access to your Gmail or Outlook. Doing so allows your assistant to manage your inbox efficiently while you maintain security and control. Here’s how to do it for each platform:

Gmail

Gmail delegation is simple! First. you must sign into your Gmail account, click on the gear icon in the top-right corner of your inbox and select “Settings” from the dropdown menu.

  • Under “Accounts,” in the section “Grant access to your account,” click the blue link for “Add another account.” This will open a dialog box where you can type your assistant’s Google email address.
  • Type your assistant’s address and click on “Next Step.” This will lead you to a box where you can send your assistant an invitation to access your email.
  • Once you’ve completed this, your assistant’s name will appear as the delegate under “Grant access to your account,” with the tag “pending.” Your assistant must click on the link in the invite from you, the mailbox owner, for the setup to be complete.
  • Once your assistant clicks on the link, they will have full access of your inbox and email communications.

Outlook web app

  • Navigate to the Outlook web app and click on the “Folders” drop down menu item.
  • Right click on the word “Inbox” and select “Permissions.” This will open a dialog box titled “Permissions for the Inbox Folder.”
  • Click on the plus sign (+) to Add Permission. This will open a new dialog box where you will be prompted to enter the name or email address of the person you want to delegate to. Click on the field, enter your assistant’s address, and click “Add.”
  • Once you’ve added your assistant as a delegate, you can modify their permission levels. You can choose what they can read, write, or delete.

Establish Security Measures

Secure your processes by establishing controls before you hand things off to your assistant. First, review their permissions regularly. Periodically reviewing the delegate access settings will ensure they remain appropriate for your needs.

You should also enable two-factor authentication on your Gmail and Outlook accounts to enhance security. Finally, trust and communication are key. Establish clear communication with your assistant regarding confidentiality, security protocols, and expectations for handling sensitive information.

By following these steps and implementing security best practices, you can grant delegate access to your Gmail and Outlook accounts securely while maintaining control over your inbox.

Hold a Kick-off Call for Inbox Delegation

Starting with a kick-off call solely focused on email management is key to a seamless transition and top-notch collaboration with your assistant. Here are the things you need to cover:

Email Handling Preferences

Discuss your preferences for email organization, prioritization, and response times. Clarify which emails require immediate attention and which can wait, ensuring that your assistant manages your inbox according to your priorities. Provide guidance on creating filters and labels to streamline email triage and ensure important messages don’t get lost in the shuffle.

Communication Protocols

Establish clear communication protocols, including preferred methods of communication (e.g., email, chat, or phone), frequency of updates, and expectations for responsiveness. Having protocols in place prevents miscommunication and ensures timely coordination. Discuss access controls and security measures to safeguard sensitive information in your inbox. Specify which emails require confidentiality and establish protocols for handling confidential or privileged communications securely.

Delegation Guidelines

Outline specific tasks or responsibilities you’d like your assistant to handle, such as drafting responses, scheduling meetings, or flagging urgent messages. Provide examples and templates to guide their actions and ensure consistency.

By dedicating time to a kick-off call specifically focused on email management, you lay the groundwork for a successful partnership with your assistant. Clarifying preferences, establishing protocols, and providing guidance set the stage for efficient inbox management and effective communication, ultimately optimizing your workflow and productivity.

Develop a Personal Preferences Document

The personal preferences document outlines your specific preferences, habits, and instructions related to inbox delegation. It serves as a reference for your assistant, providing clear guidance on how to handle your inbox according to your preferences.

Plus, if you prepare this document ahead of your kickoff call, you can use it to help guide you as you brief your assistant!

Here’s what the document typically contains:

Email Organization

Instructions on how you prefer emails to be organized, such as by sender, project, priority, or topic. You can specify which folders or labels to use and how to categorize incoming emails for easy retrieval.

Prioritization

Guidance on prioritizing emails based on urgency, importance, or specific criteria. You can outline which emails require immediate attention and which can be addressed later, ensuring that critical messages are not overlooked.

Response Protocol

Instructions on how to respond to different types of emails, including templates or guidelines for crafting responses. You can specify tone, length, and formatting preferences to ensure consistency in your communication style.

Meeting Requests

Guidelines for handling meeting requests, including how to schedule, prioritize, and confirm appointments. You can outline your availability, preferred meeting times, and any scheduling constraints.

Flagging System

Instructions on how to use flags, stars, or other indicators to highlight important emails or tasks. You can define what each flag represents and how your assistant should prioritize flagged items.

Confidentiality and Security

Guidelines for handling sensitive or confidential information, including protocols for securing sensitive emails and maintaining confidentiality. You can specify who has access to certain emails and how to handle privileged communications.

In essence, a personal preferences document is a powerful tool for empowering your assistant to manage your inbox effectively and efficiently according to your preferences. By documenting your preferences and providing clear guidance, you pave the way for seamless collaboration and optimized productivity.

Setting Up Your Inbox Delegation System

To establish an effective triage system, begin by defining broad labels for classifying emails. A good assistant will have training in crating labels, tags, and other elements of a good triage system. Common categories include “Urgent,” “Action Required,” “For Information,” and “Archive.” Tailor these categories to align with your specific workflow and priorities.

Your assistant should also assign priority levels to each category to streamline your email management process. Categories like “Urgent” may have a “High Priority” designation, while “For Information” could be labeled as “Low Priority.” Ensure consistency in prioritization criteria to facilitate efficient decision-making.

Automate with Filters

Utilize email filters and rules to automate the sorting of incoming emails into the appropriate categories. Set up filters based on sender, subject line, keywords, or other relevant criteria to ensure emails are routed to the correct folders or labeled accordingly. This automation reduces manual effort and ensures consistent categorization.

Template Database

Create a database of response templates to streamline communication and save time. Compile commonly used email templates for various scenarios, such as meeting requests, inquiries, or follow-ups. Organize the templates for easy access and customization. Encourage your assistant to utilize the template database to expedite responses while maintaining consistency and professionalism.

Custom Responses

Encourage your assistant to gradually transition to custom responses drafted specifically for each email exchange. While templates offer efficiency, custom responses add a personal touch and enhance engagement. Empower your assistant to tailor responses to the recipient’s tone, context, and preferences, reflecting your brand personality and building rapport with stakeholders.

Maximizing Inbox Delegation

Once you have your inbox delegation processes down, you can optimize things further with the following tips.

Turn Off Notifications

Encourage your assistant to turn off email notifications to minimize distractions and maintain focus on priority tasks. Instead, schedule dedicated times to check and respond to emails, allowing for uninterrupted workflow and increased productivity. Utilize features like “Do Not Disturb” mode or email scheduling to control when emails are received and avoid constant interruptions.

Utilize Project Management Tools

Integrate project management tools into your email delegation process to streamline collaboration and task tracking. Use platforms like Asana, Trello, or Microsoft Teams to assign tasks, set deadlines, and track progress on email-related projects. Centralize communication, file sharing, and task management within these tools to enhance efficiency and transparency across your team.

Use Keyboard Shortcuts

Take advantage of keyboard shortcuts to expedite email management tasks and navigate your inbox more efficiently. You and your assistant would benefit from learning commonly used shortcuts for actions such as composing new emails, replying, forwarding, archiving, or moving messages between folders. Mastering keyboard shortcuts can significantly reduce the time spent on repetitive tasks and boost your overall productivity.

Inbox Delegation is a Cinch with Wing Assistant

Delegating email to a virtual assistant through services like Wing brings a multitude of benefits, from reclaiming valuable time to achieving heightened efficiency in your workflow. With the right assistant and email management system in place, you can experience significant time savings and focus more on strategic tasks.

Don’t let email overwhelm dictate your productivity; take action today to optimize your inbox delegation process. Visit platforms like Wing to discover suitable virtual assistants and unlock newfound efficiency in your professional life.

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