How to Streamline Your Digital Communication
When it comes to digital communication, this is easily an area where you can quickly allow all of your time to be stolen.
Communication has a sense of perceived urgency. We can easily fall into our inbox for most of the day. We get tricked into staying there because we think that it’s productive.
But really, we end up spending more time there than necessary, and it keeps us splitting our attention between this fake urgency and getting the projects done that would really make a difference in our businesses.
Here’s how to own your time like the ladyboss you are:
1. Choose set times for when you will check all communication platforms
(This includes email, voicemail, internal communication apps, social media, etc.)
These times can either be set intervals, such as from 3-3:30PM I check email and voicemail or they can include “free times” to check internal communication such as between 12PM-3PM is a green light for checking Slack as many times as I desire.
Another method could be to check each of the most important platforms on an hourly interval for no more than 10 minutes total. It really depends on your business. I’d recommend creating a schedule that keeps the checking to the least amount of time without directly impacting your revenue. Experiment with what works best for you. Also notice that it may be best to have these checks later in the day, after you’ve accomplished your most important task for the day in the quiet before becoming responsive to other people’s needs.
2. Eliminate platforms if possible
Do you really need every single platform? What if you told everyone that you only communicate via one avenue? For example, I do not take voicemail anymore. My voicemail greeting lets every caller know that I will not check my voicemail, and if they would like to reach me, they are welcome to text or email me. I also know that some people, like Shawn Mendes, do not even have email anymore.
3. Inbox zero is realistic
If you are unable to get your inbox to zero daily, or at least once a week, there is a root issue to be addressed.
You must aggressively unsubscribe from every email subscription that is not actively adding value to your life. If you find yourself often not opening the email or deleting it on the regular, it’s time to part ways. You can always opt back in if you were wrong, but I’m willing to bet money you won’t be.
Your inbox is not your to do list. Do not use your inbox as a task manager. You can pin or star items that you will address in the next 24 hours or that you need to process in some other way if you will forget if you archive (such as saving a PDF to your computer). But otherwise, tasks associated with emails must directly be put on your calendar with the result you will get done during that time. You can always add in the description field of your calendar the email to reference if needed.
You can also use rules and filters for emails you want automatically archived. I started doing this for Uber and Lyft receipts. I wanted to keep them, but I found myself always spending the time to archive them manually. Totally unnecessary. Automate anything you can with rules and filters.
Oh, and for sure archive everything.
4. Save mindless tasks for later in the day or during dead time
I like to save, as much as possible, the checking of email for later in the day when I’ve already used my best energy to complete my mind-intensive projects or tasks for the day. This also keeps me in charge of my time, rather than becoming reactive. Since I don’t own a car, much of my transportation time becomes mostly dead time, so I like to use that time to check my email or social media accounts, rather than using precious time that I’m at my desk for these tasks.
Often we use email, voicemail, and social media as a way to trick ourselves into thinking we’re being productive, while we’re really not getting the most important tasks done or not creating at our highest levels in our businesses because we allow these tasks to fill our time instead. These forms of communication can easily rob us of our time if we are unintentional with them. They are all tools to assist us in accomplishing our work and add to the value we offer the world, but only if we are intentional.
You are in charge of these communication mediums, not the other way around.
Set it up in a way that best serves you and your relationships.