A Common Cry For Help (inboxes and systems)

July 2, 2015

The following email come in last week and it’s something I hear constantly … hey, I’ve been there too!

“I am on holiday returning to work Monday but I have been thinking a lot about organising and wondered if u can help me and what sort of cost? I have thousands of emails that need filing or deleting I want to use work flow max to file them by client n job. I have my admin lady but she’s no good with managing my client database when new people come, people leave, jobs come in etc. I think I need to schedule everything in my calendar like your article including lunch n gym. I work too much n spend so much time on non chargeable work I need to free myself. It’s been two years like this now as I haven’t had a quiet time to do all this tidy up n set up systems. I use a terminal server remotely but I want to switch to office 365 but want my document management per client to be spot on. I spend ages looking for things I used to big document management even for emails in those large organisations I do so struggle with this no discipline in smaller business. Work flow max document management isn’t bad can store files n emails against client per job . Can u help?”

Imagine this email instead!

“I’m returning to work on Monday and can’t wait!  Thanks so much for organising things while I’ve been gone … it’s so great to only have today’s emails to deal with in my inbox and the folders work a treat.  I’ve had a quick look in WorkFlowMax and can see you’ve managed to pull all those documents against relevant clients, yes … we’ll send out that newsletter this week and use the survey to update our CRM.  I see you’ve scheduled Monday for me to use to catch up with what’s happened in my absence with client work all day Tuesday and Thursday … how did you manage that!  I just wanted to say thanks so much, what a change to come back to a totally organised workflow and not feel like I’ve forgotten something … or worse, total overwhelm.”

This email never happened but imagine the smile on my face if it had.  And we do get emails like this … and share them through the team when we do!

My point?  Whether you use a VA or not, the first email can be avoided.

  1. Find a project management system that works for you.
  2. Spend some time upskilling yourself on using the PM system.
  3. Input client details, templates and existing docs/jobs/workflows.
  4. Start using your project management system to communicate from.
  5. Set up your calendar.  Plan client time, emails, working on your business, marketing ….
  6. If it isn’t already, spend some time organising your inbox.

Like I say, I’ve been in overwhelm.  We now use Proworkflow to manage all client projects and it has changed how we do business.  A job comes in, we set up a project and allocate it to the contractor with the skill set.  All documents are stored within the project, all communications (both internal and external) are made from the project and we track time within the project.  Imagine all the emails this keeps out of our inboxes!  PWF makes sure we get reminders for follow ups, has the relevant quality control tasks and it’s super easy to invoice once the project is finished (and – as important – super easy for our team to generate their invoices each fortnight).  I wouldn’t go back to our old system for all the tea in China!

So, if the first email sounds like a bit of you … there’s light at the end of the tunnel.  Stop. Breathe. Change!

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