The email said URGENT in all caps in the subject line.
One minute after it came in I was sending a message to a member of our team via Skype.
When she didn’t respond within three minutes, I messaged another team member on BBM. She responded instantly.
In under 15 minutes the client was responded to, solution provided, situation handled.
Is responding to an urgent request with that level of speed a good thing or a bad thing for your business?
Today, everyone is connected though technology. And, unfortunately, technology is a double edged sword when it comes to urgency and productivity.
On one hand, technology can slow down productivity if you are constantly checking email and constantly making non urgent requests a big priority.
On the other hand, technology allows you to react quickly and makes you accessible so you can better serve client requests when they really are urgent.
But what is reasonable?
How quickly should you call the person who left you a voicemail?
How fast should you respond to an email?
What is the proper turnaround for a proposal for a new client?
And, what about responding to the non-stop notifications of a social media connected world?
It’s enough to make you crazy!
For example: our clients know if something is REALLY urgent, they should text message someone on our management team because we are not always reading emails.
Our team knows that Skype is the best way to get an urgent message to another member of the team because we all get too much email.
Clients are given timelines in advance for when to expect things and then, we prioritize our time to meet those timelines so we are over delivering instead of under promising.
In The Pilot Project there is an entire module focused on the subject of managing client expectations because it really is THAT important.
How do you manage urgency inside of your business and does technology help or hinder what is important versus urgent?
And what about productivity?
Here are 7 ways to help you stop the insanity:
- Setup an autoreply in your email that lets people know when you check your email and what to do if they need urgent attention.
- Schedule time in your calendar for checking and responding to emails
- Create “crisis response plans” for your clients so the basic steps are outlined on how to handle situations that may arise
- Create a calendar with your tasks on it for the day and stick to it. Leave blocks of a half hour or hour a few times a day for dealing with things that may come up.
- Stop taking the monkey! Don’t volunteer to do things for others. Support them and let them know you believe that they can handle situations that they should be responsible for by ALLOWING them to do it.
- Delegate. Are you doing things as a business owner or entrepreneur that are keeping you working IN your business instead of ON it that someone else should be doing? Delegate tasks to your team or hire a Virtual Assistant to take care of some tasks for you to free up time for dealing with the things that only you can manage.
- JUST SAY NO! Just because you CAN do something, doesn’t mean you have to. Don’t overbook or overextend yourself by saying yes all the time. It’s ok to say no. 😉
I would love to hear your thoughts on this because I think in a super connected fast paced world, productivity and creativity is being zapped by our urgency to respond right now.