Last Wednesday, I experienced an email technology glitch that caused me to reevaluate my system for monitoring client email inboxes.

As part of my daily Virtual Assistant responsibilities, I monitor several email accounts I have through my client’s companies. To do this efficiently, I use a program called Shift. Shift is a desktop app that allows me to stay logged into multiple email accounts at one time and toggle through them without logging in and out. It also notifies me whenever new email arrives.

Last week I hit a snag. One of my clients was away on vacation, so this inbox was particularly quiet on Monday and Tuesday, which seemed normal. But on Wednesday afternoon, I was in a Zoom meeting with another client who said she had sent me an email which I never received. That made me wonder if everything was working as it should, so I manually refreshed Shift and all of a sudden it downloaded the missing emails along with 30 OTHER EMAILS into that “quiet” inbox. ARGH!

After an initial minute-long freak out, I reached out to this client, told him what happened with the email account, and let him know that I would figure out what the problem was, so it didn’t happen again.

Here’s what I did to resolve the email glitch:

1. Have my feelings. There’s always a rush of adrenaline when something goes wrong. It’s important to acknowledge this and get it out of your system. You can’t solve a problem when you’re in panic mode.

2. Remember that technology isn’t foolproof. Rather than try to find something to blame, it’s important to monitor your systems to make sure what’s happening makes sense. No email from this inbox for two days made sense. On the third day, I realized that something was wrong and took action. Technology is important, but don’t let it run the show.

3. Improve your systems. Knowing that nothing is perfect, I decided to make two small changes to my daily process to mitigate any future problems with the application. Implementing these changes into my workday should hopefully help prevent this situation from happening again.

We’re all busy, but it’s important not to take technology for granted. In a world where we value auto-pilot, remember that common sense has an important part in the running of your business. Don’t take your hands off the wheel!