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Personal Development

Manage Your Emails & Phone Calls for Better Productivity

It seems impossible to deal with phone calls and emails during work, since we can’t control other people’s actions. We can’t tell them (most of the time) to stop calling us or stop emailing us junk stuff that take us so much of our time to sort them through or delete them.

In fact, I’ve got some email accounts where I receive over 100 messages daily. If I was there to sort them through and delete them each time, my day would be gone by just checking, deleting and sorting emails.

The biggest problem is that NOT all emails are junk, and sometimes we may expect something important to come along. Often times we check emails periodically, and if it is done longer enough, becomes a habit.

Habits are not broken very easily. It takes time, about a month, to break a habit and do something else. Plus, habits aren’t broken without resistance. We tend to resist things that aren’t part of our routine.

That’s why in this article, I am going to show you some effective ways to minimize certain unproductive, habitual, behaviors related to phone call and email distractions. You want to organize your work in a way that allows you to get only a fair amount of phone calls and email messages, or even not getting any at all.

Manage Your Emails & Phone Calls for Better Productivity

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Handling the Tornado of Phone Calls

So, here are some ideas that you can use right away to eliminate phone interruptions while you are trying to work.

  1. Use the phone as a business tool. We do not want to “socialize” on the phone while we are working. If happens that you pick up the call by accident, make it quick. Let the other person know that you can’t talk right now, but they can call you later, if it is not business related phone call. The best time to use the phone as a business tool is different for many people, depending on your available time and nature of your work. I find a good practice to get in quick conversations on the phone from 9am – 5pm. Throughout this time, get on and off the phone fast.
  2. Have another line (if you can) where you get only business calls. Do not share the business line with friends and family. Mixing the business with the personal life may lead to major disasters, like losing friendships and loved ones – these are extreme cases, but business world is different from the personal world. And there must be a clear distinction between both, if you want to “play safe.”
  3. Have your calls screened. Find out who it is calling you, before you answer the phone. Then ask yourself, “What would happen, if I do not answer to that person?” If the answer is nothing, or if you do not expect something important from that person, then leave it to the voice-mail. Overcoming the tendency to be “curious” about who’s calling you is going to SAVE a lot of time. Find out WHO and WHY are calling you, before you answer the phone.
  4. Have your calls on hold. It is necessary to have periods of NO INTERRUPTIONS. If you do not, you become a “slave” to the ringing phone. Let’s say you do not take interruptions from 9-11am or for some other one or two hours period of time throughout the day. This is very important, because you want to focus on longer chunks of time if we really want to get anything done. Sometimes you need to shut down the world, for one or two hours, to get the job done. That’s a fact, not a suggestion.
  5. Set a time where you can call back when you get missed phone calls. This is critical, we want to set a time aside, let’s say from 12-1pm (lunch time) or after lunch time to get back to phone calls in the voice-mail that we intentionally missed previously.
  6. Set time aside to receive phone calls. You may unplug the phone all the time, and receive calls only at certain periods of time, at your convenience. You may also consider answering the phone between 1pm – 2:30pm only, depending on your available time throughout the day. It is best, if you have only 2 hours per day to answer the phone, everything else should be forwarded to your voice mail, that’s especially if you get a lot of phone calls per day. 
  7. Plan your calls in advance. Think about the call, what’s the purpose of it? What are your intentions, why you are going to do it? Think of the call as a meeting. Before you meet someone, you have some expectations from that meeting. You may even want to write out an agenda or an outline of the call, before you call, just as in a meeting. So that the call do not get longer than expected. I used to call people, just because of the sake of it, based on an emotional whim. This is a real time waster, and during the “work time” we want to stay away from that tendency.
  8. Finally, take careful notes on important conversation. If you can record the conversation, if you are using Skype or any other software line. This is very useful, because most of the time we miss some important points of the call, as we hear it once.
  9. Outsource the demanding phone calls or redirect all phone calls to another line where someone handles the phone calls for you, before they come to you. It is a great filtering mechanism.

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Handling the Email Tsunamis

Now, let me give you some tips to handle the emails. Again, you may use any of them, if you want to get better results.

  1. Stop checking emails early in the morning. As we begin our day with checking emails, we are going to get absorbed by it – guaranteed. We are fresh in the morning, and when we sit down and begin checking emails, we often forget about the wasted time, and before we know it 1-2 hours of the day are already gone.
  2. Create business emails, like name@yourcompany.com. Google has a great service that handles your business email needs, it is about $50 per year. But if you just want to mask your email to look professional, there’s a way to do it with Gmail. This requires some technical knowledge, and having a hosting account. You need to get access to the C-Panel. The procedure is simple, you create a FREE Gmail account. The user name can be anything, it won’t be displayed on your business email. Then, you have to go in C-Panel (in your hosting account) and add an email account with the desired name in it. Some hosting companies have a webmail login, where you can actually login to your business email account from the C-Panel. However, I prefer using Gmail for that purpose. You can connect your Gmail free account with your business hosting email account, where you can just mask the Gmail account with your business email name. You can do this when you log-in into your Gmail account, then go Settings -> Accounts And Import -> Send Email As -> Edit Info (Here you can add your business email that’s going to be displayed every time you send emails through that Gmail account). It requires confirmation that you are the owner of that business email account. Send the confirmation, and confirm it when you log in to your webmail client in C-Panel. Open that email confirmation email Google sent you, and confirm it. That’s it. Send a test email to your regular email account and see how it works in case you screwed up somewhere to correct it.
  3. Create free email accounts that serve a specific purpose. For example, you want to have a separate email account that handles specific issues. You do not want to use just one email account for everything. How do you suppose to manage all those email accounts? Well, I use software called Roboform, that handles all passwords for you, it keeps them save, and remembers them. If other person is using your computer, they can’t access your passwords, if they do not have your password that locks all other passwords within the software. You can auto-login and auto-generate the login fields in any email clients without even typing the user name and the password. You do not even have to choose the same passwords for all email clients, since it is not easy to remember them all, but Roboform does a pretty good job at remembering and protecting all of your passwords. Get a FREE trial here. With this software, you can manage everything that requires a login and password, not just email accounts. So you can create one email account for your affiliate communications, one email account for support or help desk, one email for “info section” within your site, one email account for your newsletter and everything else that has separate departments within your business. Use every email account for a specific purpose, no more than 1-2 topics per email account.
  4. Do not share your email all over the place, since you can get into the list of some spammers that distributes your information all over the place. This is not only illegal, but also it is counter-productive. In cases that you really want to share your email address to sites that requires it for getting more information etc, see if they are CAN-SPAM compliment, and check their privacy policies.
  5. As you browse through your inbox, see for “unknown e-mails” – if you get emails from people that you don't know. Delete them, do not even bother opening them. We have to kill the tendency or curiosity to open every single email we receive. There’s a potential danger of viruses and unknown bugs that can damage the information in your computer. Open emails only if you know the sender. This is not only going to save you more time, but also, you are going to be protected from harmful applications.
Chris Diamond
Featured Uplyrn Expert
Chris Diamond
Bestselling Author, Serial Entrepreneur, Lecturer
Subjects of Expertise: Time Management, Personal Productivity, E-Book Publishing
Featured Uplyrn Expert
Chris Diamond
Bestselling Author
Serial Entrepreneur
Lecturer

Subjects of Expertise

Time Management
Personal Productivity
E-Book Publishing

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