Fully outsourcing your inbox – my journey of victory and terror

If you’re anything like me, your inbox is the bottleneck for a ton of business processes. That’s why I made the decision to try outsourcing my inbox after reading Tim Ferris’s 4-Hour Work Week and blog post on the topic.
Honestly, I tried it for exactly 14 hours, then flipped out about the potential security risk. I thought I had it completely figured out, and only after I had granted access, I realized the massive holes in our security and shut down the project. I mean think about all of the times that your email is the single source of identity verification in your life. It was a terrifying ride.
I then decided to automate forwarding to an absurd degree, and the results have been much better.
I’ve included below the exact instructions that I provided to my assistant, and – even though I opted for a modified version of the process below – I hope these instructions bring you the peace and business efficiency that you are seeking.
As a further update – I am currently working on taking this process as step further and writing scripts to automate the sorting and filing of email attachments. More on this later!
— Detailed Instructions —
Job Posting
Title: Manage my Inbox
I’m looking for a highly detail-oriented person that can follow a step-by-step system to help me stay organized. This job is pretty easy. All you need to do is maintain my inbox. Check into it regularly for 20-30 minutes at a time several times every day, sort through the emails, and make sure that they get organized to the right folders. I will provide you with detailed instructions for handling each of the email categories. Follow the rules on when to forward emails, and when to reply. Simple.
Welcome Letter
Congratulations, and thank you for taking on this role! I am delighted to have you on my team.
First, I need your email address so I can send you access to my log in credentials via LastPass. This will give you my email and password to log in to my Gmail account. I use 2 factor authentication, so the first time you login, you will need to notify me so that I can pass you the code and grant you access.
Accounts used and access [this is where I give instructions on how to access these tools]
  • Calendar:
  • Email:
  • Drive:
  • Skype:
Folder Links [these are hyperlinks to specific folders]
  • List of vendors
  • Vendors
  • List of clients
  • Clients
How to create labels
This is a helpful set of instructions on how to create labels for emails in Gmail: https://support.google.com/mail/answer/118708?co=GENIE.Platform%3DDesktop&hl=en
You should be able to do your work initially with the labels provided. However, as we continue to work together, you can reach out and we can discuss adding further labels in the future.
How to create rules to automate labeling and archiving
You can use filters to automatically label and organize emails. Here are instructions for creating those rules: https://support.google.com/mail/answer/6579?hl=en&ref_topic=3394656
You should be able to do your work initially with the rules that have already been provided. However, as we continue to work together, you can reach out and we can discuss adding more rules in the future.
Label types
Sender | Mark as read | auto-archive | Label as | Forward
How to set up automatic forwarding:
How to set up semi-automatic filing of attachments:
IFTTT – enable attachment to Google Drive folder
Script – drive folder to accounting folder
Initial Setup
  1. I put together a spreadsheet of Email Rules [hyperlink]so that you can keep track of which emails to unsubscribe from, which ones to autotag, which ones to forward, and which ones to auto-reply to. These are each separated by a tab in the spreadsheet.
  2. Please begin by creating auto-tagging rules for each of those accounts – this is important, so ask me questions if you have any issues.
How to manage the inbox – unsubscribing, labeling, forwarding, and archiving attachments
  1. Archive emails, never delete them.
  2. Process emails 4 times daily: 7am 11am 1pm 3pm EST
  3. Send me a status update daily through Slack to discuss items that need my attention.
  4. I have done my best to unsubscribe from all automatically generated newsletters. If you see that an email is automatically generated, please unsubscribe from that email list.
  5. All email that needs to be reviewed should be placed in the_For Review folder. This should be limited to emails that cannot be directly addressed by the other category tags.
  6. HR email automation – any resumes or requests to be hired/ interviewed should be responded to with the template below and forwarded to [email address of HR]. These emails can then be tagged as Job Candidates and archived. All recruiters should be forwarded to vendors at [email address] and replied to with theRecruiter reply template, then labeled as Vendors and archived.
  7. Accounting email automation – Any receipts or invoices should be labeled as accounting and forwarded to [email address of accountant]. Payments received should follow the same process.
  8. Please use the drive icon to move documents (payments going out or account information documents) from here to the Vendor folder that matches the sender (example: salesforce invoices get filed in the “salesforce” folder), or the “Client” folder (example: Enterprise Co payments received). Reference the vendor and client lists above if you are unsure which is which.
  9. PR – If you get a request for Press, please reply with the Press Reply template and cc [email address of marketing manager]
  10. Calendar and scheduling email automation – Confirm scheduling emails added to my calendar from anyone with a [company name] email as long as there is not a conflict.
  11. Log metrics – every month you’ll get an email from Gmail Meter on email stats. Log these stats in the email reports table [hyper link]
  12. If I send you ADD TO RULES modify this list by adding a new rule to the process.
— Email Templates for Automating your Inbox — 
These are automated responses to people outside of the company. The goal of these emails is simply routing, and rapid responding to keep them flowing quickly.
I’d recommend getting a tool to automate this workflow (HubSpot or Yesware)
Recruiter template
Use this email on recruiters – anyone who has expressed interest in helping us find good talent.
[cc: email address]
Thank you for reaching out. We have a recruiting firm we currently work with, and we are quite satisfied with their performance. I have cc’d our head of procurement on this email, who you can reach at [email address] This is the single best point of contact and the starting point for all procurement – please do not contact anyone else in the company. We have added your company contact information to our list of vendors, and if we have a future need for your services, procurement will reach out.
Best regards,
Action to be taken – add the recruiter’s email, name, and company to vendors list and enter “recruiter” in the “type” column.

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