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Four simple yet powerful things you can do today to stop letting your inbox rule your life

By Suzy Sanders, Founder and Franchisor at Alchemy Virtual Assistance

Email anxiety is very real!

Whilst technology enables us to communicate fast, effectively and in real time. It also brings with it a whole heap of practical and mental strain. I am not one for striving to achieve ‘inbox zero’ – yet another impossible standard! But I do know how important it is to both your productivity and headspace to properly manage your emails even more when everyone is working from home.

Here are my top five tips for not letting your inbox rule your life. There’s nothing ground breakingly revolutionary here. But, it’s always helpful to take a few moments to remind and refocus yourself.

Virtual Assistant Tip #1 – Schedule times to check messages

Best practice at Alchemy VA is to check our emails at 10am and 2pm. We work flexibly so this isn’t a rule, it’s a guideline. Checking our emails at these times helps us be super productive and protects the integrity of our focused client and business development time. It’s all too easy to get sucked into your inbox first thing and lose a whole morning.

Email is an invaluable communication tool but if you’re not careful, it can be a huge distraction and time suck!

Virtual Assistant Tip #2 – Set up rules

Rules are perfect for all those messages you want to keep but don’t necessarily need to see or have clogging up your inbox. Emails like: confirmations, newsletters, direct debit payments, etc.

Set up a folder system, if you don’t already have one, and create a rule to automatically file these types of less urgent messages. To go one step further, why not set up a completely separate email account specifically for online shopping or downloading ‘freebies’. That way, you keep them out of your inbox all together!

Virtual Assistant Tip #3 – Utilise your out of office

Most days my ‘out of office’ autoresponder is on. No, sadly, I am not on one big holiday. But I do use my out of office to tell people what we’re up to and help manage their expectations in terms of a response.

As a Virtual Assistant company, our team’s working days are focused on managing lots of busy clients and their workloads. We simply can’t spend all day in our emails, or we’d never get anything done!

We like to get creative with our messages, here are some recent examples:

“Thanks for getting in touch, I am speaking at an event today so I won’t be checking my emails as regularly. If you need urgent assistance please call the office on 01604 312195. You can take a look at some of the photos from the event over on our Instagram Page.”

“I just wanted to let you know that I’ve received your email. I won’t have the opportunity to read and respond as I am catching up with my clients today and I want to be sure to give them my full focus and attention. I will get back to you tomorrow but if your message can’t wait until then you can call Alchemy Virtual Assistance HQ on 01604 312195.”

Whatever approach you adopt for your out of office message be sure to update it often and include a point of contact for truly urgent issues. Otherwise, your auto response very quickly goes from useful and informative to damn right annoying! Most people opt to call in the event of an emergency, so be sure to leave your mobile number.

Virtual Assistant Tip #4 – Turn off your notifications

Turning off your email notifications is another really simple yet powerful thing you can do to help you regain control and protect your headspace.

There are bonus points for taking this to the next level and turning off all the email notifications on all of your social media platforms.

Thank you, LinkedIn, but I’ll accept that connection request when I’m good and ready!

Check social media sites, messaging platforms, emails and texts when you’re ready. There’s nothing worse than being in a meeting, focusing on something or with your family and your phone keeps lighting up. It’s distracting, it can look really unprofessional and easily becomes super stressful.

For more information on Alchemy VA – their virtual assistance services for entrepreneurs and small enterprising businesses, or to learn more about Virtual Assistant franchise opportunities – visit Or for the latest industry updates sign up for the PA Life Digital Subscription.