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Executive Assistants: Share your boss' Gmail account

A key role as an executive or personal assistant is sharing and managing your boss' email account.

But while it's easy enough to both log in, it's tricky to delegate tasks between you, to communicate priorities, and to privately share information about email conversations.

Fortunately, ActiveInbox is perfect for doing all of the above!

Share Access to Gmail

If you aren't already, you should set up Account Delegation in Gmail so that you can access your boss' account without sharing passwords.

Delegating Tasks Between Personal Assistant & Boss

The easiest way to do this is to create custom statuses for yourself and your boss.

To create a custom status, simply create a label beginning with !, and then refresh Gmail. For example, if Lisa is the boss and Andy is the assistant, you'd create !Lisa Tasks and !Andy Tasks.

Then you can just click the status buttons to mark who's responsible. And each of you has your own task list - e.g. Lisa would click 'Lisa Tasks' on the top Review Bar (or the sidebar if you click the cube in the bottom-left).

When the task is complete, remove all statuses and due dates and ActiveInbox will considered it finished (you can also click the grey tick/check icon).

Communicate about tasks

Use the To Do and Note boxes to share details about the task between yourselves. It's very useful for delegation - you can tell your boss the key things they need to do, and they can fire requests back at you. (And helpfully, in your task list you can prominently see the next To Do for each task).

Prioritize Tasks

You can effortlessly prioritize tasks by dragging them to the top of your - or your bosses - task list.

And if you want to use distinct Priority levels, you could create additional statuses for each user & priority (this works well if you have a big screen that can show lots of buttons).

For example, extending the example above, you might create !Lisa Tasks - L1 and !Lisa Tasks - L2 (L1 & L2 are short hands for Priority 1 and Priority 2).

The Advanced Approach to User Delegation & Prioritization

If you want a slightly more complex setup that uses less buttons but requires one more click to create a task, you can just create simple statuses for each priority (e.g. !L1, !L2), and then add Users.

To tell ActiveInbox you want to add Users, go into Preferences, select 'Configure Label Types', and add a new label type with the name Users and the label prefix U/. (As a helpful example, Projects are also a Label Type, with the label prefix P/).

You'd then create two labels in Gmail for you and your boss: e.g. U/Lisa and U/Andy.

When creating a task, you'd apply the priority status, and then select a User to own it.

To see your task list, you can either:

  • Click L1 under the Tasks menu on the Review Bar, then group the tasks by User (click the 3-line menu icon on the right hand side).
  • Click the desired user under the Users menu on the Review Bar, and view all tasks for that user.

Building a Knowledge Base in Gmail

With two of you managing a Gmail account, it becomes feasible to properly manage the information you have stored in Gmail.

  • If something belongs to a project, add it to the project. (Nb projects can have sub projects - just use a forward slash in the project name, e.g. Project/Sub Project).
  • Create a References label type. References would be things like Meeting Notes, Receipt, Budget Forecast.

    To do this, go into ActiveInbox's Preferences, select 'Configure Label Types', and click 'Add'. The new Label Type will have the name References and the label prefix R/. You'd then create labels for each reference, such as R/Meeting Notes.