Randy Dean's Timely Tips

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Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Timely Tips© Volume 3, Issue 12; December 2006: Call Your E-mails (Part 2)

I know – it was only a week or so ago that you received the last Timely Tips, and I usually get these out later in the month. But I’m practicing my own time management principles here, and trying to get out in front of a few things - for a good reason! As many of you know, my wife and I are expecting our second child later this month (please wish us luck for a safe and uneventful delivery!) And of course, when a new life joins your family, you really can’t expect to get much work done (nor should you!) Plus, the holidays are coming up – I plan to take some time for my family and friends and just enjoy myself. I hope you all do the same! (Speaking of the holidays – keep reading past the Timely Tips for a special holiday “Thank You” gift for all of you – my Timely Tips readers!)

I’m basically trying to follow my own principles by frontloading my projects and tasks wherever possible, and one thing I can push up is my monthly Timely Tip – so here it is:

Last month, I gave you the tip to consider calling people rather than e-mailing them if the material is confusing, easily misunderstood, or possibly contentious. Many of you responded that this was a great common sense tip, and have started not only using it, but have started training others in your office to do the same. This month’s is of a similar “common sense” nature. It is specifically designed for PDA/smart phone users that can get their e-mail on their mobile device. And here’s the tip:

If you receive an e-mail on your PDA/smart phone device, and the required response is fairly simple and straightforward, rather than replying or forwarding the e-mail using your device, consider calling the sender/receiver with your response. Here’s why: typing information into PDAs and smart phones is typically slow and inefficient for most users. For most people, it is nowhere near as quick as you can type on a regular full-size keyboard, and that is nowhere near as quick as you can talk! If the response is quick and clear, and you are on the road/mobile, just call the person and give them the response/info they need.

And if you are really smart (and really busy!), call with your e-mail response at a time when your receiver might not be at their phone – then you can just leave a quick message in their voice mail, and not risk a drawn-out conversation. That’s why I often call people at 7:30 a.m. (before people get in their office), at lunchtime (when they are away from their desk), and after 6:00 p.m. (when they are on the way home – hey, isn’t this another Timely Tip in and of itself??). This strategy of calling my e- mails and catching people’s voice mails allows me to be VERY efficient –- avoiding the slow typing of my PDA device, and also avoiding unnecessary conversation. (By the way, I do encourage you to also occasionally call when there is a GOOD chance people WILL be at their desks. Sometimes a live conversation with a friend/colleague/coworker is a beautiful thing!)

One final little tip: I noticed that when I read e- mails in my Blackberry, if the person sending the e- mail has a phone number in the text of the message or in their e-mail signature, my Blackberry will automatically highlight that number, and then I have the option to just click my “thumbwheel” and make the phone call directly from the e-mail. You should check to see if your PDA/smart phone device has the same capability. This can also save you a few seconds of time!


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