When I first started out in the world of work – back in the days when even urgent communications were sent by post and electric typewriters were the pinnacle of office efficiency – one of my first jobs every morning was to open and sort my boss’s mail. I had a system of categorisation designed to make things run smoothly – ‘action needed’, ‘dealt with’, ‘not urgent’, ‘reading material’ and so on. I could then present my boss with neat piles that were clearly prioritised that meant he could focus on the most necessary letters, leaving the ‘reading material’ until later, as and when he had time to flick through.
Now, of course, we have email – inboxes filling up with all kinds of messages, from clients and customers, suppliers offering deals, and probably a few Russian brides asking you to send a recent photo. Just the sight of a long list of unread emails at 9.30am in the morning can be enough to make many people worry how they’ll get through the day when they’ve only just sat down at their desks – and quite possibly long for the old days, when there just seemed to be more time to read, digest and respond.
Well, there is an answer! Fortunately, those organisational skills on which I cut my professional teeth have transferred seamlessly to email – it’s a service that I successfully provide to a number of my clients; by having access to my clients’ inboxes I am able to help control the electronic beast that so wants to control its owners.
All it takes is a little understanding of your business. I can then respond to general emails on your behalf, organising them in folders or colour coding so that you can easily see what has been done. Messages requiring urgent attention are flagged up as such, meaning you can immediately focus on the important stuff, and no email slips through the net.
This is great on a day-to-day basis and also works well when you go on holiday, particularly if you’re a sole trader. Just think of those hours sitting in front of a laptop, checking your emails while the rest of the family are enjoying the pool or an after-dinner drink. It’s natural, of course, to feel the need to keep a constant eye on your business, but using a VA means it doesn’t have to be your eye. A good VA will keep things ticking over while you’re away and you can relax and unwind, giving family or friends 100% of yourself rather than mentally keeping 70% of yourself ‘in the office’. As we endure the cold wintery weeks ahead, many of us are now turning our thoughts to booking summer holidays – perhaps booking the services of a VA should also be on your ‘to do’ list?!