If you have been following my blog lately, you know that several of my recent posts suggested that relationships were as important at tasks. During the time I was writing these, the Washington Post came out with an article on e-mail bankruptcy. Lifehack and 43 Folders were just two of the blogs that weighed in.
Dale Carnegie once said,
Ninety percent of all management problems are caused by miscommunication.
If you’re overwhelmed by e-mails, voice mails, or IM’s and the service you offer to your internal and external customers suffers, here are some suggestions:
- Decide which way you prefer to be contacted when it’s urgent. Then inform your customers, direct reports, and other co-workers. If your preferred method is by phone, be sure your customers know that. When you first meet them offer your business card. Have the appropriate number neatly highlighted and tell them it is the best way to contact you.
- Ask your company to create a policy outlining its expectations about responding to internal and external customers. You probably aren’t the only one in your organization suffering e-mail overload and others may welcome this as well.
- Become more organized. When was the last time you reviewed your work habits? Are you making the most of your time? Options range from reading Getting Things Done to hiring an executive coach.
- Learn how to use all of the features your e-mail client, your cell phone, and your office phone offer. For example, both Outlook and Lotus Notes allow you to use flags to identify e-mails for follow up. Do you use those? Do you know how to use your Out Of Office message? Do you know how to create form e-mails (called stationery in Lotus Notes)?
- Delegate more. Are your e-mails the symptom or the disease? If they’re stacking up because you’re unwilling to delegate other tasks to your direct reports, then you’re tackling the wrong problem.
- If you have an executive assistant or secretary, have him or her handle your e-mail and forward you only those you consider important.
Bottom line. Don’t just complain about it; do something about it!