Archives for February 2010

What Can MemberSpeak Do For You?

How nice would it be to have a place where one could pose questions, ask for help, and connect with other communicators from around the globe?  It’s not only nice but also readily available at IABC through a forum called MemberSpeak. Free and accessible 24 hours a day, it is a bustling community full of questions and answers from IABC members. Topics range from employee communications, crisis planning, and media relations to the value of promotional products, podcasting, and social media. Before you put your online guard up, operating under the notion this is just another time waster, allow me to share a story.

I was the newly appointed community relations coordinator for a long-term healthcare organization. My boss wanted me to pitch a big news angle to local outlets. Although I had done this before, it was never with so much pressure. I had one chance to get it right, and my new job depended on it. Literally. As the stress mounted, I found I still had questions I needed answered before I could successfully launch the campaign. 

Desperate for answers, I searched IABC’s Web site for anything I could find, and came across MemberSpeak. I posted a jumbled question I thought no one would respond to, let alone understand. But a day later, a member from the San Antonio chapter responded. She offered her phone number and encouraged me to call her. During our conversation, she not only walked me through the nuances of what I was about to do, but she also gave me content I could use in e-mails and over the phone. Her advice saved my career (the organization landed on the front page of newspapers and network news stations). And she did this without charging me a dime.

So the next time you find yourself in a bind or fresh out of ideas, check out MemberSpeak. Far from being a waste of time, it could just be the ticket to your successful future. To find it, visit IABC and click on Communities.

De-Junk Your Job

Organizing your time and workspace may sound like a great resolution for the New Year. Yet for some, the task sounds daunting. Where do I put all those papers? Can I really throw this file away? How can I dial down the electronic communications?

At last month’s IABC/Iowa monthly event, “De-Junk Your Job,” attendees were given suggestions on how to start being more productive and work on what matters most.

Speaker Lori VandeKrol, from Life Made Simple, LLC, said it’s important to first map out the process of how you want things to work for you. She suggested this five-step process for a productive environment.

1) Design your vision.
What is it you want? Do you want to be more productive? Do you want to feel in control of your paperwork? Do you want more time?

2) Address your obstacles.
What has gotten in your way in the past? Maybe checking your email every 15 minutes keeps you distracted or perhaps you feel the need to Twitter every hour.

3) Commit your resources.
How much time and energy are you willing to devote to this? Will you need to buy new file folders or apps for your cell phone?

4) Select your system and tools.
What tools work for you? Are you a paper person or a Blackberry devotee? Determine what system works best for you – it could be a combination of different systems.

5) Maintain your success.
How will you keep desk clutter under control? Will you monitor projects weekly? How will you get back on track if the clutter returns?

Organizing your personal workspace is the key to saving time. Think about a time when someone called you for information and you couldn’t find it immediately. You had to rifle through folders, log onto your e-mail, then look for the person’s phone number and so on. Did you know professionals spend 5–15% of their time reading information and 50% of their time looking for it? The quicker you can find it, the quicker it gets done.

How to Tame the Time-Guzzling E-Mail Beast

Lori gave some statistics about e-mail usage. The average person has 3,000 e-mails (read and unread) in their e-mail system.  A typical person sends and receives 108 e-mails each day. Often, three minutes is spent on each e-mail. When you do the math, you’re spending 5.4 hours a day on e-mails alone!

Tips to Help You Manage E-Mails

  • Don’t use e-mail if a verbal discussion is more efficient.
  • Use a content rich subject line so readers will quickly know the relevance.
  • Keep e-mail messages brief and limit each message to one topic.
  • Resist the urge to print your e-mail.
  • Take one of the following actions on EVERY e-mail you receive:
    • Delete it
    • Forward it (delegate)
    • File it (for future reference)
    • Act on it
      • Act immediately and then file or toss
      • Put it in your calendar as an appointment
      • Add it to your task list and set a due date
  • Do not check e-mail throughout the day. Turn off your new message indicator. Check e-mail when you have time to deal with it. If possible, have set times to check e-mail.
  • Send e-mail only to those that need it or can benefit from it.
  • Add a signature file at the end of your e-mail, which might include your name, company, phone number and Web address.
  • When sending e-mail, put any required action in the subject line, such as “Reply by noon Friday.” or “FYI – No action required.”
  • Only mark a message urgent if it is actually urgent. Do not overuse this tool.
  • Include any attachments before addressing the e-mail so you won’t forget it before you send.
  • Have an organized filing system so that retrieval is quick and easy. Or, use a strong search program to retrieve e-mails by topic, name or keyword.

Clutter is Postponed Decisions
Statistics show that 80% of what we keep – we never use. If you’re tempted to keep everything, use the Art of Wastebasketry® first to be sure it’s safe to toss:

  • Does this require action?
  • Can I identify a specific use?
  • Is it difficult to obtain again?
  • Is it recent enough to be useful?
  • Are there tax or legal implications?
  • What’s the worst thing that can happen without it?

For more information or to receive a free e-newsletter from Life Made Simple, visit LMS Productivity Solutions.