There are four major aspects of communication in today’s world: contact lists, phone calls, emails, and traditional letters.
Communication is one of the biggest time wasters of our day, but it is absolutely necessary because it is the way we get most of our work done. However, we waste time on the phone, typing emails and letters, and trying to find contact information.
It reduces our productivity and often leads to a lot of stress when we are trying to meet a tight deadline.
There are positive habits we can follow to cut down on all the unnecessary time spent typing, calling, and searching. It is really as simple as learning to choose your mode of communication and automating as much as possible.
We can create specific systems to help us be more effective and productive in our communication with other people. In the next few pages, we will establish this system.
First, some of us have company-specific systems to help keep contact information saved for the many people we interact with on a daily basis. And most of us have thousands of other contacts we might need to save as well.
What is important regarding our contact lists is how we add information and when we contact people.
For effective communication, we need to make sure we have correct contact information. However, we need to add two additional pieces of important information:
Best contact method and best time to call.
In order to cut down on how much time it takes to communicate with other people, we need to know the best way to contact someone. Some people prefer phone calls, others email, and still others traditional mail.
We need to make sure we reach out to people in their preferred style of communication if we want to hear back from them quickly. This sounds intuitive, but our companies sometimes only want one mode of communication or a primary mode which may not be the best method.
To improve our productivity, we need to learn how best to contact someone. No matter what mode of communication your company desires, we will get more done when we personalize how we get in touch with people.
The other important reminder is if we must call people, we need to learn the best time to call. I ask everyone this:
“Hey, when I follow up with you, when is the best time to call?”
They will give me a day or a timeframe within the day, or they may even want to schedule the call. This will help you from playing phone tag, having tons of voicemail, and bothering people. It’s flat out efficient and polite.
Using Our Phones Effectively
These days, most people do not like talking on the phone. However, with a job like mine, I will call out to 300-400 people a month, and I receive about 100-200 inbound calls a month. I must use my phone, and a lot of jobs are like this.
Our phones are very important to get work done and be in contact with people. But is there a way to effectively use our phones and get a ton of work done?
There are a few best practices to use our phones effectively. In fact, there is one important aspect that will help everyone.
First, our phones are for short, responsive communication. If we need to go back and forth on a negotiation or question and answers, then this is the BEST way to do it efficiently. It will increase our productivity.
If we need to ask questions and get answers quickly, we need to reach for the phone. However, if it is simply going to be a long, one-sided discourse, then it may not be useful for us or the people we are contacting.
Second, our phones are best for quick follow-ups compared to email or mailed letters. We have already sent the correspondence, and now we need to confirm it was received and ask if there are any questions. This is useful to quickly address those questions without overflowing your email inbox.
Lastly, there is an issue with voicemail. Voicemail is the ultimate productivity killer. I dislike it more than talking on the phone. Why? Because we have to follow up these messages that were left.
The key here is to make sure you follow up with voicemails immediately. Most of the time they are quick phone calls, but if we let our voicemail pile up, then we will waste tons of time calling them back all at once.
Our phones are best used for quick communication and deliberate conversation. Don’t let anyone take 45 minutes of your day on a call. There is no reason to be on a call that long unless it is a conference call meeting or an interview of some sort. Otherwise, calls should not take longer than 15 minutes at a time.
The Best Use for Email
This is my favorite course of action when it comes to communication. There are a lot of great uses for email, but it is probably the easiest form of communication when we have canned responses and initial contacts. Also, email is best used for longer, one-sided discourse.
Most email is perfect for “canned messaging.” What do I mean by this? Well, a lot of my email communication is always the same. It is an initial contact with my information, or it is a follow-up to a call or letter. And since I work in a field where much of the same information is discussed, I can re-use most emails.
I have a number of templates that I can put into an email message and update specific information. Rarely do I need to type a new email from scratch because email communication is very similar for my workflow.
THIS SAVES TONS OF TIME!
Most people should be using more ‘canned’ email in their workflow to save ten minutes or more. There is no reason to re-write the same email a dozen times a day. We can update specific information and move on to the next task.
This is why I like email best.
Regular Mail, If You Must
Most of us don’t like using regular mail. However, it is important for some of our companies and jobs to be sending documents out in the mail. If we must, we can use a lot of canned responses much like email. In fact, sometimes even more so.
My company has a lot of canned response communication it already provides, and I have added to it with my personal information; I rarely write a brand new letter to anyone.
Mail is best used for important, non-time sensitive documents that you need to track. If I use mail, I will usually make sure it is certified to create a record of when it is received.
It is also a legal liability saver if your company requires it. As long as you are sending letters with calls and email, it will eliminate a lot of legal issues if someone says they never heard from you.
Other than this, I try to send as few letters as possible by regular mail.
Get Your Communication Tools Set Up Today
All of these tools will save you time and energy. It is important to take advantage of them and use them to their fullest to help you find productivity success.