On any given day I have people contacting me by voice through my office phone and smart phone, via email accessed through my laptop, IPAD and smart phone, text messages via my smart phone, as well as people contacting me through Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn,and on my Blog all accessed, as well, by my laptop, IPAD and smart phone.
This simply means, if I allow myself, I can be responding to people’s inquiries (in other words, working at my job) 24/7 on four different tools through seven different communication mediums (yes insane, but I have no one to blame but myself). So out of sheer necessity I’ve learned the following lessons and have incorporated them into my routine in an attempt to put some sanity into my work and personal life.
- First, when I’m off work, I don’t answer any of the above except for personal contacts and when I receive a text signaling an emergency at camp (we have a protocol for this).
- Second, when I’m on, I look at and respond to inquiries from all 7 mediums only 3 times day – first thing in the morning (usually between 5:30 and 6:30 am), after lunch and before I go home.
- Third, my goal is to respond within 24 hours except over weekends and vacations (I’ll admit I can do better on this one).
- Fourth, I don’t answer any inquiries from any mediums when I’m with people – be it meetings, meals, casual conversations, or on the phone. I think it’s inconsiderate and inefficient use of my time and the time of the people I’m with. My goal is always to focus first and foremost on the person, or people, I’m with.
- Finally, I prioritize my responses this way – phone calls first, followed by texted messages, then emails, my blog and finally Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter (so now you know how to increase your chances of a quicker response).
I’m not perfect at all of this, but when I’m disciplined in this way my life seems to have a bit more sanity and make a bit more sense.