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Tim Ferriss, author of The 4-Hour Workweek, believes you can remove yourself from the inbox entirely to gain valuable time. Here’s how he does it:
- Set up multiple e-mail addresses for specific types of e-mail. Use automated rules to organize messages as they come in.
- Train an assistant to think the way you do. Ferriss created a document for his virtual assistants called “Tim Ferriss’ Processing Rules,” that reflects how his brain processes e-mail.
- Ask your assistant to check and clear the inbox twice a day. Ferriss says, “99% of e-mail falls into predetermined categories of inquiries with set questions or responses.”
- Hold a daily meeting or phone call with your assistant for the 1% of e-mail that might require your input. Ferriss’ daily call lasts four to 10 minutes.
On busy days, Ferriss’ assistant leaves any action items in numerical order on Ferriss’ voice mail, and Ferriss replies with his directives. Example: 1. Jose in Peru: Ask him for ___. “These days, I actually prefer the voice mail option and find that it forces my assistant to be more prepared and more concise.”
—Adapted from “The Holy Grail: How to Outsource the Inbox and Never Check Email Again,” Tim Ferriss, 4-Hour Workweek blog.