This year marks the time where I change my CV from “20+” years of experience to “30+” years of experience as it passes 3 decades since I first transitioned from a passionate computer hobby to making real money in IT. I started with computers in the time when you were thrilled to be able to exchange emails on a BBS over an acoustically coupled 300 baud modem. It was followed in the corporate world by IBM PROFS email (1981) which effectively eliminated the corporate paper “memo” and other’s like DEC’s ALL-IN-ONE.
Email was rare, always a treat to read and fun to show to the dinosaurs who still wrote memos on paper. Today, not so much.
Three years ago I damaged my hearing while Scuba diving in Mexico. The result was the requirement for a hearing aid in order to participate effectively in crowded meeting rooms. It has a great advantage however, you can turn down the volume…. and the world becomes a quieter place.
There are days that I would really like a similar capability to turn down the volume on email. Days where I would like to see jail terms brought in for those that know no button to click other than REPLY-ALL.
It is not likely that we will actually decrease email volume, but we can manage it better and as consultants must manage it better.
Convert messages from email to Instant Messaging/Instant VOIP where you can.
When you receive an email and its looking for a response from you, rather than establishing a ping-pong like volley of serve-return combo’s, move it direct to IM and finish the conversation right there. (VOIP is likely faster, but no record of the exchange, which is very important for client interactions)
* Works with Lync and just fine with Live Messenger also… (and Skype won’t be too far behind)
Prioritize client communications
A quick tip that works for me and may work for you. You likely already add rules for filtering email into specific folders (this has been around for a very long time)
But automatically adding categories when the email arrives to assess importance and work priority is a great way to make sure you are working through the communications in the best order.
In my mail I have configured my categories as follows:
- from my clients – red
- from my many matrixed bosses – yellow
- where I am the only recipient and the sender is internal – orange
- from family & friends – green
- references specific project name in subject – blue
- contains “action required” or “action requested
in the subject – purple
- specialty discussion groups where I am active on threads – pink
Now at a glance I can see what’s important and filter by category with a single click. I can’t reduce the email, but I can be sure that I spend my time wisely responding to what’s important.
Set the example.
- IM or VOIP instead of email
- Don’t email large files, put them on an accessible site and send the link.
- Don’t use distribution lists unless you really need to
- Use a forum not a distribution list for general questions and communication
- Got something to broadcast? – Tweet it