Meera is social media ambassador at Zoho. She loves working remotely and can only sometimes be seen at an actual physical office location. She also subscribes to the 'you are what you read, blog and tweet' theory.
As with every other productivity tool, what really matters with email is how you use it. If email is draining your work productivity, it’s probably because you’re doing one or more of these:
you make it the aim of your workday to achieve Zero-Inbox status.
Let’s face it: the more email you send, the more you’ll receive. Set aside some time daily to respond to selective emails that are urgent and important. Mark the rest for
later follow up.
you believe email is real-time.
It isn’t. And doesn’t need to be instantly responded to. If you need
(and only if you need!)
to initiate a real-time conversation, use IM, or make a phone call. Or even better, make it a face-to-face conversation, if that’s possible.
you believe in the ‘a folder for every email and every email into a folder’ rule.
Email OCD? If you’re spending a lot of time just moving your mail into folders, you’re wasting valuable time that could be spent on other important tasks. Instead,
make automated rules for emails that absolutely must be organized into folders. Leave the rest in your inbox.
you need to hunt for emails manually, one folder at a time.
Every time you have to look for that all-important email that suddenly needs to be referred to,
use an advanced search feature to fish it out. Not only will this save you search time, it will minimize your dependency on folder-organization too (see the point above)
you use the ‘reply-all’ function for every email.
Before you use ‘reply-all’ and reply to everyone who is marked on an email, think about whether your reply will be relevant and / useful for all the intended recipients. If not, mark the email to only those who will benefit from reading it. It’s good email etiquette and saves everybody (including you!) a whole lot of time.
you use email for debates and discussions.
A more productive way to encourage ideas, discussions and brainstorms within your team(s) and / customers is to use an internal discussion forum. At Zoho, we use
Zoho Discussions for all such “discussions”.
you only send / check your email at the desk.
Being able to check email on your mobile device is a necessary evil. You can spend time outside your office, meeting your customers and prospects, and yet, still find time to
check email while you’re on the move. Remember to do this judiciously though, for not all email needs to be read / responded to.
you check email during face-to face / telephonic interactions with people.
Avoid doing this at all costs. For one, it’s rude. Also, you miss out on important conversations and the chance to make an impact on your audience.
Are there any other email-productivity-killing-habits that you can add to this list? Which email habit are you going to change today?
“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.”
In a recent post titled ‘How the Office is evolving‘, Eric Kintz at Gigaom talks about the transformation of work-spaces from the original ‘cubicle’ concept to the “New Office”.
Excerpts from Eric’s post:
“Today, the physical space is adapting to the way teams work – ad hoc, on a project basis, cross-functional, with team members scattered around the world. We’re witnessing a fragmentation of collaboration spaces.
The “New Office” is an airport lounge on a tablet, a midnight video call on the kitchen counter, a shared table at the office or a collaboration pod for ad hoc meetings.”
Eric also goes on to predict: “The personal space will continue to shrink and become increasingly mobile/virtual. We’ll likely see a day where the office becomes a series of collaboration spaces, designed to connect fragmented virtual teams.”
At Zoho, we’ve been building our suite of Business apps to cater to the needs of the “New Office” that Eric described. Our Apps too, have been constantly evolving in tune to the collaborative, cross-functioning, geographically fragmented nature of work and work-spaces.
All our apps can be accessed while you’re on the move, or from wherever your “New Office” happens to be at the moment. Integrated chat, document management and inbuilt sharing features characterize all our apps and enable geographically dispersed teams to work closely together.
Also, as the New Office becomes increasingly mobile, we’re expanding our Apps offering to work seamlessly across portable devices.
The Zoho CRM support team, much like other support teams at Zoho are constantly working to address any issues that you might be facing. And at times when we do not have an immediate solution to your problem, we’ll always try to reach out and work out a temporary workaround solution. Meanwhile, we’ll continue to work on a more permanent long-term solution.
On their blog, Adam C. of Delib explains how Zoho was the right choice for their CRM needs and how they’ve been impressed with the range of functionality available in Zoho CRM:
During my time here, it’s fair to say that I’ve used Zoho extensively. The system has a very impressive arsenal of functionality, and every time I use it I end up finding some new feature. I use it for a large portion of each day and I estimate that I’m only using around 15% of its full functionality.
Adam goes on to talk about Delib’s experience when he came across a problem and tried getting support from Zoho CRM
Last week, Delib and Rubber Republic came-a-cropper with Zoho and hit a brick wall. And when you’re trying to do something and you simply can’t do it, we all know how frustrating things can be.
However, on Thursday Zoho called us at Delib and helped us round our problem. They weren’t able to fix it then and there, but they were able to understand our needs and offer a workaround for the time being.
All software goes wrong sometimes, and the measure of a solution can sometimes be how well it is supported.
Thanks to the team at Delib for sharing this support experience! We’ve also been receiving similar feedback from other Zoho CRM customers.
Harvard Business Review article talks about the need for people across hierarchies, functions and geographies within an organization to collaborate. Your employees should be empowered to submit their ideas and suggestions across the hierarchy. And your top management should be able to provide feedback and guidance to employees across verticals. Also, companies/teams within the same parent organization should be able to bridge differences in objectives and work together towards organizational goals.
Another aspect of collaboration required within an organization, is to tap knowledge and experience for process improvement in a large, global organization. The article suggests the need for online tools that can be employed to bridge these gaps and to enhance vertical, horizontal and global collaboration within the organization.
An Online Discussion forum can help you perfectly achieve all the above objectives. Here’s how:
Process Improvement and Innovation
All your employees can participate in process improvement by suggesting ideas or reporting problems. Your Online Discussion forum can provide a variety of topics to post under. For example an employee can post a process improvement initiative or a new innovative idea under the ‘Propose an idea’ category.
Besides suggesting their own ideas or contributing by commenting on existing ideas, employees can also vote on ideas or on whether a particular comment contributes value to the idea.
Problem-Solving and Decision-Making
Knowledge and Expertise across various functions can be tapped for solving problems.
Discussion posts can be organized into categories, making it easier for employees to view or contribute to relevant discussions.
Employees should be able to follow, bookmark or email specific posts, so that they can easily collaborate across a geographically dispersed organization.
The look and feel of the discussion community should be customizable and brandable, making employees feel at home work irrespective of where they access the forum from.
At Zoho, we offer one such tool and have in fact, been using it extensively for encouraging collaboration within our own organization.
Zoho Discussions lets organizations create powerful internal communities which are fully customizable and come with a host of collaborative features. Apart from the above mentioned features, Zoho Discussions comes with a few more
integrated features that enable employees across teams to collaborate and contribute, thereby helping us constantly innovate around the products and services we create for you.
Another important community powered by Zoho Discussions, is our
Customer Support forum where customers can discuss Zoho products with our employees and with one another.
Your organization too can benefit in more ways than one, from a hosted forum service like Zoho Discussions. Watch
this video to learn more: