Outsourcing E-mail

I was recently discussing some of the money making strategies used by Tim Ferriss, blogger and author of the very popular book “The 4-Hour Workweek“, with a friend of mine. Despite the fact that some have questioned whether it is possible to really achieve the level of anti-productive zen the book espouses, there are still many take away items that can be employed to one degree or another in our own lives. The idea of creating sources of constant income that require little to no maintenance for instance, but I digress…

The upshot of what my friend responded back with was that they did not believe that even Tim himself was able to truly walk the walk. The basis for this theory was (paraphrasing here), “I wrote him an e-mail once and got back a very long personal reply from him.”

My response, “It was probably not from him directly. I bet he outsources that too.”

Well, true enough, Tim outlines exactly how he does that in a recent post to his blog. His strategy:

> “For the last 12 months, I’ve experimented with removing myself from the inbox entirely by training other people to behave like me. Not to imitate me, but to think like me.”

Not only does he outline the strategies he uses to achieve this, he also includes the actual set of rules he gives to his Virtual Assistants to help them process almost any e-mail as if he were doing it himself.

Just like the book, you may not be able to do exactly what he does. That being said, there are still many smaller time saving strategies one can take away from this. Here are some of my favorites

* Pre-written replies for commonly asked questions – Are you are in a position where you often have people ask you the same questions. Why reinvent the wheel for every reply. Have the same one always ready to go.

* Send social networking requests straight to the trash-bin or archive – LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and other friend requests can all be handled the next time you log into those services. No need to have them clutter up your Inbox.

* Cluster tasks via context – GTD folks will be familiar with this idea. Set aside times of the day for dealing with e-mail, returning phone calls, etc. and only those times. Cluster like tasks together via context. Be Pavlov, not the dog.

This is just the start. There are so many thought provoking ideas in here that it is really worth the time of reading it all. Then, if that has you going, delve into some of his other posts. There is so much nougaty goodness inside the candy shell.

The Holy Grail: How to Outsource the Inbox and Never Check Email Again

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