Staying Connected in a Remote World
Its 9 am. You and your coffee are ready to work. You have an overwhelming day ahead full of meetings, challenges and accomplishments. However, there is only one question you must answer before your day can start: What do I do first?
Then, one question turns into twenty… Should I check email, Facebook, Skype, LinkedIn, YouTube, Twitter, Basecamp, Highrise, Zendesk, Salesforce, did anyone call me?, did I forget to check my messages?… and on and on, the questions go through your mind while sipping your morning coffee…
It can be challenging keeping up with clients and your team around the globe while juggling different technologies. Especially when the result of a missed email or connection can result in anything from unnecessary frustrations to losing business.
From professional life to personal life, here are 3 categories of tips I have found useful to increase productivity and save time while staying connected in a remote world:
The main ‘incoming sources’ of connections can be narrowed down to email, texting, micro messaging, phone calls and voice mail. To avoid stress and keep you focused on your priorities, the goal is to create a solution for yourself to ‘catch all’ of these incoming sources, automatically. Ideally, when you start your day, you want to check only 2-3 sources instead of 5-15.
Set all of your notifications to a dedicated email address, whether it’s Facebook, LinkedIn, project management software, support tickets, etc. All notifications can be funneled to an email address. Choose one email that catches all business notifications and one that catches all personal notifications. From there, schedule dedicated times to check email. Start with choosing 1-3 dedicated times during your day to respond to all email, social media and other notifications. Now instead of visiting every website, you receive updates through specific emails that are checked at specific times during the day.
Texting, Twitter, Skype or any other chat software can be considered a form of ‘micro-messaging’ which allows you to get quick answers to questions from clients or your team. Choose one format, that preferably all your team and clients have access to. This is extremely helpful when there are missing details, critical updates or new information added to a project. There are also services like www.hootsuite.com that centralize your accounts with the ability to listen, engage and measure your social media in one location.
With smartphones and technology, funnel your voice mails to a service that can transcribe your messages to an email notification. Direct this email notification to your dedicated business or personal email account. This saves an immense amount of time to sort through critical and non-critical issues.
Create for yourself a dedicated time to make phone calls. During this time you respond to voice mails and respond to items that can only be responded by a phone call. All other times, let calls go to voice mail. This is where having your voice mail transcribed to email is imperative. You can read a voice mail in 1-2 minutes and schedule the callback on your calendar within 5 minutes or less during your call times. Or better yet, you can respond via email and check it off your list. It’s important to create these guidelines so you have time to focus on getting work done without distraction or interruption.
From one person to the next, communication and relationships can be very challenging. Every person has a different ‘online persona’ when messaging or sending emails. However, knowing this is half the battle.
Getting to know each other:
Digital correspondence is a very ‘flat’ communication style. A great relationship can always weather a tough challenge. Take time out and schedule a phone call or meet in person if possible. Get to know each other’s hobbies, passions and what’s going on in their life. If you have the chance to schedule one or two phone and email conversations before beginning work, you’ll have a better chance getting to know each other and succeeding in the work you do together.
Be yourself and don’t take yourself too seriously… except when you have to 😀 . Always think the best if something isn’t clear and over-communicate with sensitive subjects. For me, I care for my clients and team members personally and also in business. If their day isn’t the best, I can tell.
By being light hearted, cracking jokes or ‘checking in’ personally with digital correspondence, you can bring a form of charisma and personality similar to face-to-face conversations. This can cheer them up and give encouragement if it’s a tough day. It also helps keep the vibe and creative synergy.
Stay focused and creatively think of the end in mind. What is the fastest way to get your point across? Do you have a solution or ‘call to action’ in your communication? Sometimes, if an email doesn’t get a response, the action you are seeking wasn’t clear enough in the email. Take your internet marketing to the next level and include it in your emails, messaging and phone calls.
Even though technology has increased like never before, there are more available resources and services to help keep you caught up. Simple tools like www.lynda.com ($25-$35/mo) and searching ‘insert subject here – free tutorial’ are at your disposal every day.
Incorporating technology in your daily workflow is a must. Sync your emails, messaging and social media across all your devices – phone, tablet, desktop, laptop. Sync bookmarks on your browser. Use bookmark folders in your browser as a landing page for all important pages you visit often. Once you start thinking through this, you’ll never go back. With minimal effort and cost, you can multiply your time availability while doing more AND maintaining better quality of your work.
Pro-Active vs. Re-active:
Start with an hour a week and turn everything off – phones, emails, messaging. Think through how you communicate to the outside world. Answer the questions:
How can I consolidate my emails, messaging, voice mail and social media?
Do a little research, then create a document with your findings to refer back to every week when you do your proactive time. This hour a week will show you new ways to quench re-active fires without causing your daily schedule to fall behind.
Use planning as your last step to staying connected and focused. At the end of your day or the beginning, find which works best for you and itemize a list of absolute deadlines you must achieve. Make certain you prioritize big items and complete them before managing the less priority items.
There is a fine balance between spending too much time on connection and not spending enough time on connection. By having an active list in front of you every day, you can respond to unexpected changes and obstacles while keeping your priorities and making sure everyone is happy.
In summary, improving your efficiency, saving time and staying connected in a remote world can be accomplished in three simple steps:
- Schedule an hour a day to disconnect, re-think how you connect and create a plan.
- Read free tutorials or take lessons on new technologies that will increase efficiency in your current workflow.
- Create new habits with technology. Then practice those new habits for 21 days until it becomes a permanent habit.