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If you do not adapt, if you do not learn, you will wither, you will die.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Customer Service - Efficiency & Effectiveness Ideas

As a way of providing ‘valuable to receive and easy to give’ extra service to one of my present customers, I send these business owners a personal and organizational efficiency idea every day for thirty consecutive working days.  It’s a self-explanatory one-liner that I put in the subject line of the e-mail. I would, of course, not want them to have to open yet another message. I do not want to add to the already constant stream of information (and non-information). If they wish, however, they can open the message and read a few more sentences with additional information regarding that specific idea.

Some of my business partners and other readers of this blog have told me they especially enjoy the practical posts with lists of ‘how-to’ and ‘remember this-and-that’ lists. I do not write many such posts, so it’s time for one. And what better topic than personal and organizational efficiency and effectiveness, since you likely suffer, like most of us, from the fact that there are always more things to do than time to do them. As we’ve all heard and read so often before, objectives, priorities, planning, and discipline are a few keys to increase your effectiveness. I will not repeat those here.
I have chosen only nine ideas of the many available and I invite you to pick your top four and diligently adhere to these four ideas for the next five working days. I expect you to experience increased focus, efficiency, effectiveness, and satisfaction.

1.   Know yourself - which are your distractions? Stay focused and say 'no' to distractions.  Everyone has their own list of distractions that easily keeps them from doing what they should be doing or planned to do. Keep track of your distractions today, and learn to say 'no' to those personal messages, that fun blog, a phone call with a friend etc. Learn to keep your distractions out of your schedule and focus on the tasks at hand. During a break, you can indulge in every distraction you want to if that is a way for you to relax.

2.   Know your energy drainers such as unfinished projects, toxic relationships, or fatigue and take decisive action.  Make a list with your top 3 energy drainers and act to minimize and end them. You are not a victim of your drainers. Deal with them the best way you can. Confront the situation openly and respectfully if it involves others. Get tensions out in the open. Discuss them.

3.   Make decisions and take action. Procrastination never pays off, so make the tough decisions first. Learn to say "no" and not just "yes", and don’t even think about saying “maybe.” Be clear in what you want to/can take on. Think of the option to say “I’ll let you know by …” to provide you with more time to consider what the request entails, whether it fits your goals and priorities, who else could take on the task, and the consequences of saying “no”.

4.   Start the day by completing two things on your list that must get done today. Do the hard or unpleasant stuff first. The feeling of already having accomplished something early into the day will energize you.

5.   Deal with every e-mail once. Read it and take action on it now, don't save it for later or leave it in your inbox. This implies you only go to your in-box if you have time to read and take action now. After dealing with the message, file it in the appropriate subfolder if it is needed for later reference.

6.   Understand how long things really take. In reality, many tasks take longer than you expect. The items at the bottom of your list are likely to be put off for another day – how discouraging if this is recurring. To break this cycle, get a grip on just how long things take. Schedule extra time. We’ve all heard it and just won’t do it.

7.   Close programs you don’t use. Many open applications makes searching for those you need at a certain moment more difficult and they eat a lot of RAM slowing down your computer.

8.   Boost your productivity at work by taking a 10-15 minute break. Breaks give you much needed time to rest your eyes, change perspective, move around and stretch your stiff muscles, get more blood and oxygen flowing to our brain, to unwind, and to obtain a fresh outlook on things and people. Can’t afford it? Think about how much more focused and productive you can be after a refreshing break.

9.   Do something artistic or physical in between long, boring, or hard tasks. Write or doodle something. Take a no-cell phone walk. If you can’t go outside do a simple stretching exercise. Google and you’ll find enough suggestions even for behind your desk or in the restroom.  

Which are your three most important ideas to start with? Any others that really work for you and you’d like to share?

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