Content provided by a guest contributor.
Long gone are the days when receiving text messages and emails were a novelty, celebrated by the receiver.
In today’s technological age, most of us crave an hour or two in the day when we can escape our phones, tablets and laptops, either for a run on the mountain, or to go into strategic thinking mode and switch off from the outside world for a while.
I don’t get emails to my phone, but between iMessage, Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger, Hootsuite, Pinterest, Instagram and good old fashioned phone calls, there is always something flashing at me, demanding my immediate attention.
How often do those messages really need to be read right that second though? How many times a day do you let your phone distract you? Here are six tips on how to stay present and focused, without missing out on all the action:
1. Use the appropriate platform
It’s easy to fall in to the habit of starting a conversation on email, discussing it on Skype and possibly following up via Whatsapp at a red traffic light. This isn’t productive for either party – firstly it’s difficult to keep track of the conversation; and secondly, most people find using Whatsapp for work conversations inappropriate or just plain rude, especially if the message comes through out of office hours. Pick a platform that works for the project or task and encourage everyone to streamline communications in one place.
2. Block off brain time
Work out what needs your undivided attention, and block off a chunk of time in your calendar. Let your colleagues know that you’re unavailable and then tune out of all communication channels. You’ll be amazed by how much you can achieve in a short space of time.
3. Communicate effectively
When it comes to email, make the most of your subject lines. Make sure it introduces the email correctly, and indicates how urgent it is. For example, starting with ‘Action required’ or ‘FYI’ will give the receiver two very different messages. Use bullet points to break up long paragraphs and allocate tasks.
4. Be present
Set aside time to reply to personal messages and catch up on emails before and after each meeting to avoid doing it on the sly. There is nothing worse than sitting opposite someone who is organising their weekend or replying to emails while they listen with one ear.
5. Be consistent
Form habits that you can keep. If you tend to reply to emails within seconds, clients will start to expect it. That’s fine if you can keep it up – but if you have lots of meetings or turn off your email for chunks of the day then make sure your clients know when you’re likely to reply; and give them contact details for someone else in your team in case something urgent pops up.
The same goes for responding after hours or at weekends. Save your emails as drafts, but don’t actually send them until Monday unless they're urgent.
6. Create group conversations
This is ideal if you’re working closely with colleagues or collaborating with an extended team on a project. Task management platforms such as Asana and Flow are also great to coordinate a project. Make sure you reply to all of the people in the thread if it is appropriate; to make sure everyone is kept in the loop.
By following these simple tips, you’ll be more productive, you’ll get the correct message across and you’ll be 100% available to the right people at the right time.
The content in this article was provided by Emma Donovan, co-founder of Yellow Door Collective – a full service marketing agency.
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