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Productivity Tips

(The Lean Law Firm Blog)

E223: Our #1 tip to effectively manage email inboxes as a lawyer

delegation Mar 06, 2024
A close up of a phone email icon with 20 unread messages.

Did you know that professionals get an average of 120 emails a day? Think about the emails coming into your inbox in a day. Chances are most of them are useless but they still suck up your precious time.

Dealing with most of what lands in your inbox every day is probably NOT in your Power Zone (the work you love and adds the MOST value to your firm). The best thing to do is delegate this task to someone or something else. 

It can seem hard, if not downright impossible, for most people to delegate the job of triaging their email. But you must. Trust us, it’s just too easy to let your inbox become someone else’s to-do list.

Your Tip: you CAN delegate email triage to a human OR to AI.

I know what you're thinking - AI for delegation, how?! Using AI is often connected with writing, creating imagery, or videos; we’ve also shared how AI can be used to help you research and expand on your niche marketing… but there’s a powerful opportunity use AI  for the delegation of some of your most mundane tasks, like email management! 

Your Action item: track your email for the next week. How much time do you spend in your inbox, dealing with emails that you KNOW someone (or something) else could handle for you?

Solution 1: Delegate to a Human

If you want to delegate to a human, you can’t just drop someone into your inbox and expect they’ll get it right. To make your delegation effective, start prepping ahead of time. 

For 1-2 weeks before your person starts, track the following emails: 

  • The ones you actually need to deal with. 
  • The ones you need to know exist. 
  • The ones you don’t need to know about (things that can be flushed or easily passed on to an assistant to handle). 

Next, record your standard responses to frequently asked questions and common emails. Then, when your human starts, task them with dividing your email into those three categories: emails you need to handle yourself, things you need to know about, and things the assistant can deal with. 

Bonus Tip: Communication is key for successful delegation. We suggest setting up a channel in Teams, WhatsApp, or some other messaging platform so your assistant has quick access to ask you about emails they are unsure about. 

Lastly, be prepared to refine your system over time as both of you learn.

Solution 2: Delegate to AI

The other solution is AI and there are some great tools out there. We have lawyers in our Practice Accelerator program using Sanebox and Superhuman. We use Spark, which automatically separates emails from people, newsletters, and notifications. 

With emails being sorted by AI, I can deal with my inbox in a more organized and streamlined way. I look and respond to emails from people at set times during the day; I set aside time first thing in the morning, before lunch, mid-afternoon, and at the end of the day to do this. Once a day, I have a look at the notifications folder, and once a week, I look at newsletters.

Getting started delegating is always the hardest part, but it frees up your time to focus on things that are actually in your Power Zone! 

P.S. Learn to Work in Your Power Zone in our upcoming webinar on March 13. Join us live and we’ll teach an easy-to-use strategy to identify the work that is in YOUR Power Zone. Register here.

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