Have you noticed an upswing in activity on your calendar this fall? It started with back to school and the final quarter before year end and now we are gearing up for the holiday season. Lots of activities and demands. With those increased activities come increased communications: invitations, appointments, request, informational copies and on and on.
Your email inbox is a full piñata and with just the right swing it could burst into bits and pieces on the floor – but those bits and pieces aren’t sweet treats – they are pieces of your life that are now scattered in chaos.
So how do you keep that piñata from bursting?
I recently read a post from a project team member asking if she should get a CRM to help her manage her email. My first reach was to say “stop swinging, you’ll break your piñata!”
You see, my philosophy is to understand the needs and goals first before selecting a tool.
You’ve heard the saying if all you have is a hammer then everything looks like a nail? Well in this world of free flowing tools to help you with any problem you have, getting yet another software solution to help you seems like a logical step. But it is not (necessarily).
Here’s how to avoid scattered piñata chaos.
Step 1: Identify the true problem to solve or need to fulfill.
Is the problem that you are not able to stay connected to important people? Then a CRM may be the solution.
Is the need to organize your email so that you can get to the important things first and reduce the less important things? Then maybe create better email habits is the solution.
ACTION: Take the time to truly look at your area of pain and identify the problem to solve or need to fulfill. Get the help of a thought partner to talk through your scenario with you. It often helps to have someone that is not close to the problem look at it through a different lens.
Step 2: Find the person who is doing it well.
Do you know someone who is able to manage their email inbox well? That person who never misses an important email; knows what is going on in every project; is connected to their network; and always remembers to send you that birthday message? That person knows something about keeping the email piñata from breaking open before she is ready.
ACTION: Invite the email master you know out for a cup of coffee or lunch and learn about their method of managing their information flow through their inbox.
Step 3: Do one thing different.
Sometimes you just don’t know what needs to be done and so making small changes and assessing the impact quickly is a great way to find and design your own information flow process. Don’t make your life more complicated with a new software solution unless you know that it’s the software that is missing. It may be that you are not utilizing your current solution to it’s fullest extent.
ACTION: Read through some of these recommendations for managing your information. Select one thing to implement and DO IT for one week. Then determine if it is helping and therefor you should continue to the next change. One change at a time.
Information flowing into your inbox will continue to grow. So it is important to identify the right solution for you whether it is a CRM, new habits, or a hammer. The key is to take action now to resolve it. It will only get worse if you don’t.