by John Ricco, CAE
So we’re two months into the year and your resolutions are probably long forgotten. If your intent was to be more effective or efficient at work, here are a few easy tips to help you get back on track.
PROBLEM # 1: Technology is evil . . . sometimes. Be extremely cautious about how you use technology at work. Grabbing your cell phone to text a short reminder to your boss can easily result in taking a “quick second” to check that Facebook messenger notification and before you know it, you’ve wasted 15 minutes on the new YouTube channel dedicated to zit popping (who knew?). We all know to shut off alerts to avoid distractions and unfortunately texting has been added as an integral part of business communication.
The Solution: So how do you use your mobile phone for work without tempting the social media sirens that await as soon as you unlock your phone? Try using desktop apps for iPhone or Android that allow you to send and receive texts from your desktop. This will allow you to leave your phone and its time sucking temptresses stashed away.
PROBLEM #2: We allow our technology to remain “on the dark side”. Now that I’ve dissed technology, it’s not always an evil time-suck, if you use it wisely. For example, most of us use e-mail programs like Outlook to send and delete e-mails, manage our calendars, etc., but never explore much beyond that.
THE SOLUTION: Invest time in learning how your technology works. The results can be huge.
- Do you have an e-mail sitting in your inbox that you can’t bear to delete so you don’t forget to act on it, or so you have it as a reminder that someone owes you a reply?
- At a minimum “flag” the items and set a reminder so you can deal with them in a timely manner and delete them; or
- Create a “Follow Up” folder to store those items. Then create a recurring calendar appointment once a week to spend 30 minutes to circle back on things in that folder; or
- For e-mails that can only be resolved with a substantial amount of time, click on the email and drag-and-drop it on the calendar and set a time to complete it. Then entire content of the e-mail will be there waiting when you have time to tackle it.
- Do you find yourself routinely using e-mail to provide different people the same information? Signatures are much more than a repository for your contact information. Type stuff once and never again. I have created over 20 e-mail signatures that I use constantly for repetitive responses. Examples include:
- “Here are 3 steps on how you join the association . . . “
- “Attached are the monthly financials for your review, please . . .”
- “Below are directions to get to our office (it’s tucked back in the corner of a complex and not the easiest to find).”
PROBLEM #3: We don’t mix it up. Have you found yourself waiting for an unresponsive colleague to get back to you on something time-sensitive, even after three e-mails? There are many times we get into ruts at work and in daily life, such as routinely going to the same place for lunch more than twice in a week. Think about that as you attempt to become more effective at work.
THE SOLUTION: People are busy and respond to different stimuli, so try mixing up your communication channels and try calling, texting, wearing a sandwich board outside of their office, etc., to get the response you need. Just like advertisers mix the avenues they market to us via television, radio, web and print; try mixing up your communication methods to prompt the response you need from feet-dragging colleagues.