Should I Get a Gmail Virtual Assistant?

The Marketing Team

Email management is never easy for anyone. Drowning in emails does not help your productivity. A way to save time is to delegate your Gmail account to a virtual assistant. Are you unsure or unknowledgeable about email management? Read this article to calm your anxieties and clear your ignorance.

It’s dizzying for anyone to see a number that’s stating you have more than 5 unread emails in their Gmail inbox. Email notifications flood everyone’s inbox, from newsletters, urgent emails, to ads we get once in a while. Although the Gmail experience is one people are familiar with, not everyone takes the time to organize it. We just let these emails stack up until eventually, we lose track of important emails and files. This is why email management in Gmail is so important. Email plays perhaps the greatest role in business. 90% of all contemporary companies rely on email as their chief method of communication. Virtually all formal business correspondence nowadays written, sent, and read using Gmail. It’s then no surprise that many executives are, according to a 2013 study by McKinsey and Co., “online junkies” who spend 38% of their time on email and voicemail. That percentage may very well have grown to 80 or 90% as the “New Normal” economy has established itself over the past two years.  

Emails are important, yes, but all of your time shouldn’t be spent on organizing your inbox. If you’re spending more of your time on emailing clients and associates back-and-forth than you are on actually fulfilling your responsibilities to them, then there’s a serious problem with how you’re running things. Having an assistant to respond and organize your files into folders will be a great help. A Gmail assistant works for you to clean up your inbox. Whether you’re already at that point or just anxious that you’re on the way there, it’s probably best to consider email delegation. A virtual assistant can help sort your emails on your behalf if you want to save time. This way you can focus on business and get more done while keeping your email inbox clean. 

What to consider in delegating your email

A frequently asked question is what should I delegate to my assistant? Well, here are three things you need to take into account when weighing up the necessity of a virtual assistant. In this case:  current workload, personal capacity, and privacy should be considered.  We’ve already discussed the first earlier above, but it bears repeating to avoid any regrets down the line. Getting a virtual assistant to help in Gmail delegation saves up time. When you say that half your time is spent talking rather than doing, it doesn’t really say anything about how many people you’re talking to or how important your correspondence with them is. Especially for companies that require a lot of communication for clients, much time is spent on the back and forth. If you’re not proficient in emails, it would take a long time to respond to important messages. Pesky clients may make discussions overly drawn out and even become a cause of miscommunication. In any case, be it a you problem or a they problem, you should size things up first to see if timely changes can be made. Whether this involves cutting your losses with certain people or improving your workflow is up to you.

This leads us to our second point:  personal capacity.  If you think that you can handle  this particular aspect of business, then good on you.  But again, you should appraise your own abilities and limits carefully before committing yourself to a course of action. If you feel overwhelmed with emails and unable to deal with all of them, there’s still the question of if you’re actually comfortable with having another person reading your business correspondence.  The foremost worry, of course, is that sensitive particulars might end up in the wrong hands. Adding your assistant or giving them permission to your shared inbox has the risk of other people aside from you seeing private messages. Since they have access to your inbox, they can see who you communicate with. This can include confidential information shared between clients. However, this is only a big risk if you take in independent or freelance, and thus unaccountable, of virtual assistants under your wing. With legitimate companies like us here at OkayRelax, virtual assistants are bound to respect the privacy of their clients under threat of legal repercussions. Nevertheless, there might still be some sense of discomfort involved in having a completely separate individual respond to emails. To help you manage this, you just need to put some protection in your Gmail settings. You have the freedom if you want to check your inboxes to ensure that everything goes smoothly. Change your password also every few weeks. You can also set up two-step authentications which require your verification before members of the team get access inside the shared Google apps. This makes sure that you know if there is a need to access to Google or 

Entrusting emails to your virtual assistant

When it comes to what service you’ll actually be using for emailing, there’s really no contesting Gmail.  It’s probably what you’re already using anyway.  Many companies usually either go for Gmail or Outlook, and sometimes even Yahoo. But the reason why using a Gmail account is more common is because it won’t bring you any complications with regard to compatibility with other emails or anything of the sort. Almost everybody uses it—1.5 billion people monthly, in fact.  And although Gmail and Outlook are the two main email providers at the moment, it’s plainly far easier to give your virtual assistant access to your account from Gmail than anywhere else.  Gmail’s convenient environment also gives you access to Google workspace that links your work to each other. Not to mention, it’s free so you don’t have to pay extra for this convenience. Here are the few steps you need to follow to start delegating your emailing to your virtual assistant:

  1. Go to Settings > Accounts
  2. Keep scrolling until reaching “Grant access to your account”
  3. Click on “Add another account”
  4. Enter in your assistant’s email account, then click “Next Step”
  5. Click on “Send email to grant access”
  6. Have your virtual assistant accept the email invitation sent to them.

Now comes the exciting part:  briefing your virtual assistant about what it is exactly that you want them to do for you. An assistant needs to know what to do. So if you simply want your inbox cleared and for them to manage your emails you can:

  • instruct them to unsubscribe your account from redundant or spammy newsletters and the like (mind you, this would require that they be signed into the account you’re using itself); 
  • provide them pre-written messages or templates for them to reply to generic enquiries with. An assistant will be able to respond and be able to reply to emails without having to run it by you first. On the other hand, you’ll be able to answer follow-up emails that require your attention more.
  • have them clear out unimportant messages or outright spam that managed to get through the system. An assistant can also clear clunkly messages therefore making your inbox and workspace more organized.

In summary, inform your VA of what you expect them to do. This is to effectively delegate your email so your assistant can understand the scope of their work. Will they just send a message via Google Chat? Will they write emails or just manage email inboxes? Will they organize your Google Calendar and schedule write an email? All in all, an assistant must know what they’re doing to effectively manage tasks. 

If you’re dealing with a nasty case of inefficient customer service, then you should get an email that is different from your personal one. A separate email account, something along the lines of service@yourdomain, would be best. You can also create multiple accounts for specific fields like admin and sales if need be. This ensures that the messages you need to send are email protected. It also makes sure that you’ll be able to send more professional and better emails to your client. In the event that you’re met with an incessant bombardment of emails from your customers, then you can go the extra mile and have many virtual assistants in different time zones to keep up with the stream of correspondence. This way, each person you want can focus on the most important assignment for them. Having people to delegate tasks to will help you focus on what matters more. And even if you’re not constantly under siege by such emails, it may also be in your interest to answer questions and concerns from your clients swiftly and appropriately.  A good impression goes a long way towards setting your business up for success.

Staying in the loop is still important even in a hands-off situation.  You can keep yourself apprised of your business’ communications in many ways.  The most practical choice would just be to have your virtual assistant BCC you, but this potentially exposes you to the same problem you intended to rectify, that is to say, being flooded with unneeded emails.  To mitigate this, you may ask your virtual assistant to BCC only the most vital and urgent emails to you.  What counts as “vital” or “urgent” is on you.  Another way to keep in touch would be to simply have your virtual assistant draft replies and then send those to you for review, revision, and ultimately, sending.  This brings with it more work for you, of course, but it’s great if you really want to be 100% sure that you or your business aren’t being misrepresented in any way whatsoever.

Final words

Delegating your correspondence to an assistant doesn’t automatically solve all your anxieties and struggles surrounding emails.  But having an assistant to keep track of your emails will greatly help you. There are still some steps you can take outside of that to relieve your stress and focus on your other work obligations. These include:

  • turning off your Gmail notifications—it’s email, not iMessage;
  • starting to actually use those functions you’ve long ignored, like the search bar, which lets you get to specific emails quickly without having to scroll lengthily through your inbox;
  • keeping your correspondence concise—there’s no need to be long-winded and verbose;
  • having your virtual assistant learn from your writing style, mannerisms, and tone in past correspondence;  and many more.

Although at first getting a virtual assistant for your emails might seem daunting and uncomfortable, trust us when we say that not only will you get used to it quicker than you expect, but that it’ll give you an unprecedented amount of free time to work on your business and yourself at once. Email management is just another way of delegating project management. Having people to delegate your inbox to will generally take emails off your plate.