Do you spend time filing things?



Manually looking through items to find the one you need?

Well, naturally. Until you can afford to hire that virtual assistant you've been wanting, of course you're going to need to do these things for yourself, right?


You're still operating under an old, outdated model. Back when business and communication was done on paper, it was imperative that you (the boss) had an assistant of some kind, to file those papers. Respond to those letters. Find those documents.

So in the absence of having someone who can do this for you, say, in your email inbox, you do it yourself. You manually file messages in folders one by one. You look through those folders message by message when you need to find something. You manually write emails even though they are just like emails you've already written, and will have to write over and over again. You are your own secretary.

I have a name for these activities: Manual Labor

In my Inbox Zero Training Program, I promise participants that they can reclaim one hour per day on email, by greatly reducing the amount of manual labor they do (or getting rid of it all together).  I'm serious about that claim (I offer it as the course's guarantee).  Participants learn that Manual Labor is among one of the many stumbling blocks that is gobbling up their time.

The path around this stumbling block is Automation.

If you could sit over my shoulder and watch me check my email, you'd notice some things that are different. First, you'd notice that my inbox is nearly empty all the time, and that the messages in my inbox were ones that were worthy of being there. Second, you'd rarely see me putting messages into folders manually. And finally, you'd never see me looking through emails one by one to find something.

Applying automation to your inbox takes the job title Secretary away from you, and gives it to the cloud. If you are a Gmail user, a combinations of labels and filters will grow and grow until you have very little administrative work to accomplish.

I encourage you to look at these features and start to build a system to replace yourself as the secretary of your inbox. What can be autmatically categorized? Moved? Deleted?

Answer those questions and the create the rules in your inbox to help make them a reality. Email isn't the only place where you can take advantage of automation. What about using Smart Folders on your desktop to automatically categorize files? Or Smart Playlists in iTunes?

Opportunities for automation are probably baked into most of the programs you use every day.

So I'm curious to know: What would your life look like if you didn't have to be your own secretary?


Stop letting email rule your life and create an inbox that manages itself.  The Inbox Zero Training Program is a six week interactive online pro­gram that will allay all your fears and give you every­thing you need to get email under con­trol in your life. Learn how to join the “First 20” and get 50% off the cost of admission.

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