You’re answering a voice mail message when you get a notice that a text message has arrived. Sitting in front of your computer, your mail icon indicates receipt of a new email while your IM screen pops open. What to respond to first? Is this a typical day? Unfortunately, most likely it is.
As we struggle to stay up with the various communication options available, many people feel they are wasting more time than they are saving, due to constant interruptions. Technology creates immediacy. Before we decide to stomp on our cell phone or smash the computer, let’s look at some ways to incorporate a little structure, letting the technology work for us instead of against us.
Be sure that your voice mail message asks for the caller to leave a detailed message. That should be a given, but how often do you get a message that says, “Hi. Give me a call; I have a question.”? So you call back, and they aren’t available. You can’t leave a response because you don’t know why you’re calling. So the phone tag begins. If they had stated the question, you could have called back with the answer and most likely the process would have ended at that point.
When you are leaving a message, give enough detail that the person can properly. If information must be researched first, they will complete that task before responding, again saving both of you a lot of call-backs and getting nothing accomplished.
Make it a habit to return calls on the same business day if at all possible. If someone is waiting for your answer, it is courteous and professional to get back with them as soon as possible. If you have a policy of response time, state it in our voice mail message so the caller will know when to expect to hear from you…within 24 hours, the next business day, etc.
Here is a scenario that happens consistently with most everyone I know: You are working at your desk and the little envelope appears, or your computer ‘dings’ (or both). Mail has arrived. Hurry up and check it! This interruption can take just a minute, or enough of them can consume your day. If you just can’t ignore these notifications, turn off the audio and the envelope icon.
I’ve heard from business associates that they read their emails only 2 or 3 times a day. Some choose first thing in the morning and after lunch. Others check their mail mid-morning, after lunch and mid-afternoon. Their theory is that waiting until mid-morning rather than reading emails right away allows them to address immediate needs before attending to the emails, plus they’ll still have time to answer this correspondence before lunch, providing a timely response.
Try a few different times and see what works best for you. Reading and responding to emails in blocks rather than continually throughout the day will prevent a lot of interruptions and provide for a more focused work day. I heard at a seminar years ago that each interruption causes a loss of 15-30 minutes before you’re back functioning at the level you had achieved prior to the break in concentration. Think of how many times your email causes this!
Another of my articles, titled “24 Hours A Day Is All We Get”, discusses handling interruptions and the 3-options process. We can do the same with email – throw it away (delete), file it (save to a folder for future reference) or answer it (then file it or delete it).
Email newsletters arrive daily. Some are extremely educational, others informational, and still others just a nuisance. You have total control over this, and it’s as easy as clicking “Unsubscribe” to the email newsletters you have no interest in receiving.
I receive a lot of newsletters from fellow members of Rainmakers, a networking organization (www.gorainmakers.com). I like to get them because it’s a quick, monthly reminder to refer business to them, and it helps me stay up with changes in their businesses, new products, new employees, etc. I will scan the headlines, and if nothing draws my interest, I delete it, at a cost of less than a minute of my time. If there is an item of interest, I choose to take the time to review the article.
Try these suggestions; you’ll have a more focused, productive and time-efficient day.
Source by Cindy Hartman