Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Are we drowning or thriving in technology?

Have you ever stopped to count how many ways someone can send you a message? We got rid of our house phone, but I still have a cell phone, work voicemail, work fax, work email, personal email, facebook email, facebook wall, linked in email, etc. I think the technology we have today is amazing. In my lifetime, we have come a long way from digital clocks and microwaves! But, who would have thought we could communicate with each other in this many ways. Sometimes I think I am drowning in technology, and other times I think how great that I can communicate quickly with so many people! What helps you thrive in the technology era with your business?

When it comes to owning your own business, it helps to have a system to manage the inflow of all of your messages and papers. What system works for you? I do the "paper two step," which is something I read about in The House that Cleans Itself (by Mindy Starns Clark). I sort through my mail, leaving out on my desk only what needs immediate attention. Then, I sort the additional mail into into file folders marked "to complete, to fax, to copy, to file, to shred." The important part is to empty these file folders at least once a week, which sometimes may mean scheduled paper management time!

I can manage and prioritize the paper flow and the phone messages in my solo practice. However, I cannot keep up with email! I try the email two step, leaving in my inbox only what needs immediate attention or reply. Then, the remaining email messages are filed in my work email folder. I don't think I am ever caught up on email. Even if I could keep up with all the great mailing lists I am on, it would only take a day to fill it back up! I'm thinking about removing my address from any mailing list that I don't read in a week. What works for you to manage your inbox?

(c) Copyright 2009, Marci Payne, MA, LPC
May not be duplicated or reprinted without permission.


Matthew H Camp said...

I look at every email as a task. Sometimes that task is simply deleting or filing the message in a clearly-labeled folder because it has some relevant information. Clear that stuff out in a hurry because it's just clogging the pipeline.

Some of the tasks cannot be done now or require attention in the future. I copy those and paste them into a calendar item so I never have to think about them until the reminder for the calendar item pops up. Take a half a second a drag that email into a file folder and you're done.

The remaining tasks are ones that need my attention today, and I just go through them like a checklist. If I have several items from a single client, I do them all in a batch. This helps you accurately track your time if you bill hourly. It also helps you focus (and increase speed) when you do similar tasks in batches.

It also helps to have a personal email like a hotmail address that you use for any site that is going to send you too much email. I may sign up for something for my business, but if they are going to put me on a mailing list - or if there is any SALES or newsletter aspect at all - then I give them my personal address. That way, you don't have to filter all this stuff out of your business inbox when you are trying to work.

Get rid of any paper you can. An web-based fax service like Trustfax will elimnate the need for printing stuff out and physically faxing it. Use technology to move things quickly and your inbox will start clearing out fast.

Marci P. said...

Thanks for your feedback Matthew! I have been clearing out my inbox regularly and only leaving in what needs to be replied to within 24 hours. I have divided my work emails into folders, such as ads, mailing lists, marketing, training, etc. My email program shows me a number next to the folder if messages are unread. I am thriving when my inbox is clear of clutter! And, the folders help me find and use the information when I can devote more time to thsoe messages.