By Tara Schroeder, Operations Manager
Managing each method of communication within a company’s fast-paced infrastructure can be challenging. How do we keep track of and respond to communication delivered through a wide range of mediums? Furthermore, how do we determine if we are utilizing our technologies as a tool to help business, as opposed to being inundated by an onslaught of data that makes workplace efficiency impossible? In this article I will outline several tactics on managing your technology, so your technology won’t manage you.
In 2012 it seems almost impossible to become disconnected. In today’s world being “connected” is the new norm. Whether it is through email, instant messaging, voicemail, texting, or social media, technology plays a key role in any business. But is technology a tool that helps run your business or a distraction that hinders productivity?
“I think it’s fair to say that personal computers have become the most empowering tool we’ve ever created. They’re tools of communication, they’re tools of creativity, and they can be shaped by their user,” Bill Gates
The best way to shape all avenues of technology is not only to prioritize the level of importance of the communication but to flag any messages that have a quantifiable result. Getting lost in a request that “feels” important but has no measurable goal is a rookie mistake and will bog down a workday. When there are different methods of communication it’s important to make a list of priorities in the beginning of each day.
- Email: Incoming mail with measurable results and deadlines take top priority
- Organize all incoming requests. If the request is not easily answered, reply to the email alerting the sender of its receipt and include a date of completion. After communicating the response and course of action, add the event/project to electronic calendar. I actually call this an electronic trickler file.
- Instant Messaging: This should be used when an immediate result is needed
- This software application has the most functional value as an informal way to communicate by either sending a quick web link or answering yes or no questions. This form of communication works best when used for instant gratification.
- Outlook Meeting Maker: Block off time daily or weekly to re-evaluate projects and deadlines
- This allows time to review what could quickly turn into a communication cyclone. After sorting email by level of importance or action items, file projects and requests that have been completed so they are easily found when they are needed or revisited for revisions. During this time make sure to take a breath and regroup. It’s OK to disconnect and take a technology break. Surprisingly, the world won’t quit turning because an email wasn’t immediately answered.
- Voicemail: While it’s not as popular as email or texting, voicemail is still vital to running a business
- We get so caught up in the newest gadgets and software that it’s a pleasant reminder that sometimes the most valuable means of communication are also the most basic. Phone conversations have a way of personalizing the relationship that seems to be missing in today’s tech-savvy communication jungle.
Getting inundated in all forms of communication is an easy mistake to make and a very deep hole to dig out of. By organizing your technology and following simple rules, it is an easier process to start managing your priorities and ensure you are shaping your technology.