Monday, September 16, 2013

Email Management - The Essential Productivity Skill

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It's confirmed!  Haven't you heard?  Information management which includes email management is an essential productivity skill!

It's been such an evolution.  I've taught time and organizational management for a number of years and it's been interesting to see how the introduction of the internet (yes -- it's been that long) has transformed how we work. The challenge is many have not evolved with it, caught on to how to use and leverage it and are therefore buried and overwhelmed with how to effectively manage it...and it continues to get worse.

Part of the evolution for many has been working primarily offline to working almost exclusively digitally (on line).  These days, when I go into just about any office supply store, it feels like a ghost town.

And here's the catch, working digitally has it's own set of challenges.  The components of the digital workspace can be disjointed and there are so many tools; software, add ons, browser functions, social bookmarking, ghez!

So here are some essential considerations in taming the information tiger and setting the stage to work more effectively and efficiently in this new and ever changing digital world. You'll notice the considerations can be used as a checklist and can be broken down into actionable steps.

1. Make a distinction between on line and off line activity: though ultimately you'll want to match or mirror as much as possible your off line and on line information activity, it's easier to separate them for the moment.

2. Ask yourself this question, "Do you know your information flow?": This question has 3 parts -
a. do you know where your information is coming from?
b. are you currently aware of where you put it or what you do with it?
c. where do you want to put it so you can find it? (It's all about find-ability!) Not being able to find documents, reports, emails etc. is the cause of a tremendous amount of frustration, stress and time wasted.

The solution is to create an information flow map or chart for both your off line space and your on line space.  This will help you build awareness of how the information is handled.  For many how we handle it is done unconsciously and with no plan, system or strategy which makes it difficult to find things -- there's no conscious memory of where it was placed.

3. How do I want my information to be set up when I'm ready to execute? This question is a bit of an overlap to question #2.  So for clarity an example would be, when I have a conference call with someone, what kind of information do I want and need right at my finger tips? With respects to using google mail,  it gives you the capability to attach an email to an event in your calendar. When you pull up the calendar event, the email (and any other pertinent info) can be attached all within the event information section. Pretty cool!

So in integrating both 2 & 3, you'll want to consider the tasks or work you execute and include that in your flow chart and/or strategy plan.

4. Learn your email software! Since email is one of the core elements of digital information management,  it's super important to know all of your email program's capabilities so you can use where needed. I've discovered that people tend to continue to use their software based on how they first learned it and what they needed it for at that time.  Perhaps, however, their needs have evolved and more of the program could be used if known.

5. Learn and implement basic organizational principles. There are key principles that can be used in any context. As an example, here is a short, 3 minute information video on what I call The 3 C's of Organization.

6. Consider how to use traditional tools differently.  For example, I use my Google Calendar to group follow-up reminders for upcoming weeks. When I have a conversation with someone, I'll put the notes right in the description section of the event in the calendar. Or, I'll email myself something. (Sometimes low tech is the best tech).  Since I use Google mail and calendar, there are many reminder choices built into the program. Again this references back to #4 know your software so you can leverage its functions.

This should be enough to get you started -- I don't want to overwhelm  Ok..that's the name of my book and seminar. If you need assistance or additional supporting information consider the following:

>You'll want to get Organizational Strategies for the Overwhelmed - how to manage your time, space, & priorities, to work smart, get results & be happy - Kindle - The Book - Nook - Audio Book - The Seminar - pdf:  here's the link to the learning resource of your choice: click here

>Consider 1/1 coaching: I consider coaching customized training -- it accelerates your results with a quick return on investment. - click here to learn more

>You may want to subscribe to this blog, as I'll be continuing to post additional support in this area as I'm working on an e-book over the next few months.

> It may be time to book an information management workshop or webinar for your organization. I recommend a cost effective 1/2 day.  The outline for the full day, comprehensive time and organizational program can be accessed here: seminar outline

Contact me if there is anything I can do to reduce your stress and help you or your team be more efficient and effective:

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