At any point of the day I’ll look down at my notebook and when I glance back at my computer (or my phone), I’ll see:
- 7 new emails from clients, one from Refinery29, and a shipping notification from Amazon.
- 3 texts from another client.
- A missed call. Oh it’s an 800 number. Also, I have 66 unread voicemails because some guy who used to have my number is wanted by the police.
- A flashing gchat message from our developer.
- And a Skype chat from my good friend in Australia (who I’m also co-publishing a book with).
- Not to mention FB and Twitter private messages that I tend to always miss.
“Oh wow, I’m so popular,” I’ll think to myself. But seriously I’ll pause whatever I was sketching or writing to tend to these messages. After fifteen minutes, I’ll have handled everything. I look back up and they’ve all replenished (because, go figure, people respond) and I’ll cry a little on the inside. Because I’m so distracted, I’ll get on Twitter or start online shipping.
SIDENOTE: THIS IS THE MOST UNPRODUCTIVE SEQUENCE OF EVENTS, EVER
So this week I’m putting my foot down and taking control of all these forms of communication. Here’s my approach. I’d love to hear your thoughts or if you have any better ideas.
- EMAIL: As I have been doing (but sometimes slack on), I’m only checking email 3 times a day. I check it in depth at 9am once I’m in our studio. I respond to emails, get clients files/feedback, write guests posts or respond to interviews from fellow bloggers and archive. At 2pm, I check it again. The third time takes place at 6-6:30pm before I shut down for the day. Truthfully, I check my email WAY more than those 3 times but since putting this in my footer, I at least know that most people don’t expect an instant response. There’s a part of me that loves to be organized and messy inbox is troubling. This week I’m implementing a more customized auto-responder while I’m working for certain chunks of time. I was inspired by Lisa’s post.
- TEXTS: I turned iMessages on on my computer and I can’t decide if it was a good decision or not. Most of my texts that come through are from friends and I love being able to talk to them all day. Having the messages come through on my computer makes it easier to reply and a bit less distracting than picking up my phone every time. I also have one client that texts me consistently but I know I could transition them into Skype. I know fellow designers/entrepreneurs who don’t text back because…they’re at work! Still debating how I should handle this.
- PHONE CALLS: I’m changing my voicemail to: “Hi this is Allie’s phone. Thanks for calling. I probably didn’t answer because your number is not stored in my phone as a contact. Please feel free to text or email me at email@example.com if you need anything. I don’t listen to voicemails.” <- obviously this will annoy a lot of people but I can’t be on top of every form of communication.
- GCHAT OR SKYPE? I’m going to make myself invisible on Google chat. Most people don’t message me there except Adam and our developer. I also talk to both of them via Skype randomly. I think Skype will be an easier place to consolidate chats because it’s also how I take calls from clients virtually and where I talk to Claire (almost daily).
- FB/TWITTER MESSAGES: I wish I could automate a message when someone DMs me on either social network. I tend to read them and immediately forget about them. I haven’t installed the FB messenger app on my iPhone and don’t get notifications from Twitter on my phone. Anyone else have this problem?
This might seem like such an insignificant problem but I noticed how it was negatively impacting my productivity. When it comes down to it, I don’t owe anyone my availability in 7 different ways. Gosh, I miss letters in the mail. Hopefully my thoughts helped any of you running into the same issues but secretly I hope you share some of your own tips with me!