February 17, 2011

Doodle

A cool little online app that you can use to coordinate decision-making among a group of people... and it's really simple! You can ask for available dates for a meeting or ask for input to a decision.

www.doodle.com

(Thanks to Joan for this handy tool!)
 

Action and Email Don't Mix

Reactionary Workflow – reacting to what’s coming in rather than being proactive. It’s a new term but a familiar feeling… and it sure did resonate with me.

Being constantly connected means that it’s really easy for people to contact us. As a consequence, our ability to prioritize is crippled by the unending flow of communication. It has become harder to direct our work with intention. We’ve relinquished control over our focus.

One of my own personal focus areas last year was to be, well, more focused. What I found was that just focusing on being focused didn’t cut it. I needed tactics… and discipline.

Here are some things that I found useful:


  • Blocking out time for specific tasks, especially tasks related to developing my own business.
  • Turning off email for certain periods during the day – need I say more?
  • Taking time to create, rather than just responding to emails. Yes, I might be suggesting taking more time. Adding value to my communications has resulted in many benefits, especially in terms of relationship-building. Time well spent.
  • Reserving time for research and keeping up.

The number one tactic that has worked for me? I separated my action items from my email.

Rather than keeping actionable emails in my inbox, I now print them, or make note of them, or save the attachments… and then file the emails. That way I don’t have to stray into my inbox and get distracted when I’m in ‘action mode’. While it might be a just a tad more work, it improves the use of my time considerably.

Try to manage your action items in a space away from your email – whether through post-it notes, software apps, or paper TO-DO lists. This will allow you to prioritize and focus on the stuff you want (and need) to do, rather than reacting to whatever flows in.
 

Originally published in Work Better, Not Harder on February 17, 2011

February 3, 2011

Random Acts of Kindness

February 14th kicks off Random Acts of Kindness Week. I found these cool printable calendars that give suggestions for each day of the month. Try them out on your clients, friends and family!


 

What is Everybody Searching For?

Take a few minutes to refresh your knowledge about the most popular keywords in your industry and area of specialty. You can use this handy Google Insights for Search tool to find out what the world is searching for. Or you can narrow it down to country or province.

 

Ask for Action

Sometimes things are easier if someone else will just tell me what to do. That way of thinking especially applies to our websites and newsletters.

Your call-to-action is critical – it’s the reason for people to contact you. Use your website and newsletter to convert contacts into leads. Once they click on your call-to-action, they fill out a form… and then they become a lead. Simple, right?

How do you get your readers to take action?
  • Use action verbs. Start your line with a verb that requests action. Create a sense of urgency and tell people what to do. Make sure images and text are clickable.
  • Don’t just say what to do, say how to do it. Instead of saying, “Buy now,” say, “Phone this number to buy now.”
  • Give visitors something of value for free. Offer relevant, informational and non-promotional items for free to readers and website visitors. Possibilities include: e-books, how-to videos, tips and tricks, best practices, free trials.
  • Make your call-to-action stand out. It should grab your readers' attention.
  • Keep your sign-up form short. Don’t scare people away once they arrive at your sign-up form. Request their email address. Don’t ask for anything else unless it is really important. Don’t put other calls-to-action on your sign-up page. Once visitors are there, you want them to sign up only, not read your blog or visit another page.
  • Place your call-to-action everywhere. Put a call-to-action on every page of your website. Also use it in blog posts, your email signature, newsletters, videos and presentations.