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5 Technologies to Increase Productivity

March 18 2010

Do you ever look at your inbox and feel overwhelmed by the volume of emails, only to find that once you dig in and read them all only 10 percent are actually relevant and require significant action? In the age of social networks and collaboration tools, we are finding new and greater ways to communicate. But all this over-communication tends to hamper our productivity and make us feel besieged.

Worse yet, the lost productivity sorting communications can affect our relationships with clients.

If you want to increase your productivity and put some of that time back into client relationships, a surefire place to start is to streamline your communications. Since so much communication takes place over email, start by taking a good look at your inbox. How much of the following do you see?

  • Group email threads where you are copied as an “FYI”
  • Endless email strings where you are not relevant to the conversation
  • Emails with revised document attachments
  • Meeting requests, updates, and cancellations
  • Email threads trying to find the best time for a client meeting
  • eNewsletters
  • Google alerts
  • Spam

If greater than 10 percent of your inbox are of this time-sucking, productivity-draining nature, it is time to tame the inbox by implementing a few simple tools and processes:

1. Yammer
Private social networks and short-messaging services such as Yammer provide a place for organizations to share information without overburdening. Colleagues can share links to articles, updates on listings, industry tips, and much more. Colleagues can choose to use Yammer like an Instant Messaging system and watch the stream of updates throughout the day, or “dip” in throughout the day (like Twitter) and see what is going on all at one time instead of being interrupted throughout the day.

2. Google Docs | Google Wave | Wikis | Box.net
We’ve all fought the version control battle and lost. Reps use the wrong presentation deck, you send the customer the wrong contract version, you miss an event because you weren’t looking at the latest calendar – you’ve been there. The way to clear your inbox of those bandwidth-hogging attachments is to move to the cloud. You can you use Google Docs for a central document repository, utilize Google Wave as a collaborative playground, post document updates to your private Wiki or Box.net (or other download site) to rid your inbox of these updates and get your team collaborating and sharing information productively instead of being bogged down by endless email threads.

3. Tungle.me
Tungle.me and other appointment booking software apps have addressed head on the problem of finding a common time to meet. Tungle.me allows you to publish your available times so that when a client or colleague wants to meet, you send them a simple link to pick times that work. The simplicity of booking an appointment in a few clicks actually makes you more accessible and easier to do business with clients. It gives the impression that you value their time, and are willing to move


mountains to give them the face time they want – without requiring you to change your workflow, or spend time managing your schedule – making it easier for you to close more sides. For meetings with colleagues and groups, you can use Tungle.me to send out meeting proposals with specific blocks of time for them to choose from, let Tungle.me identify the times that work for everyone, and eliminate anywhere from 3 to 10 email exchanges to get it booked.

4. RSS Readers
Still receiving email newsletters? Open them up and see if they offer an RSS option. Having newsletters delivered to your RSS reader, like Google Reader, lets you clean up your email inbox and tackle all your newsletter, blog, and news feeds at one time, when you have the time. Maybe with your morning coffee or on your mobile phone during downtime, like commuting, waiting for a client to arrive, waiting for your computer to boot, sitting on a boring conference call…you get the idea. Same goes for Google Alerts. Unless you absolutely need to know every time you or your competition is mentioned, sign up for these to be delivered via RSS or, at the very most, once a day.

5. Spam Filters
Do I really need to tell you that it is worth the effort to block certain senders, unsubscribe using SafeUnsubscribe or other such services, and send spam to the junk folder? If that isn’t enough, talk to your IT department. There is nothing more annoying then being interrupted for a Viagra offer.

If these steps don’t help you tame your inbox, it might be time for an assistant, or at least private and public email addresses.

This article was written for RE Technology by Erin Larivere of Tungle Corporation.

To learn more about Tungle.me's online scheduling service, click hereclick here.

Other articles of interest: AgentOffice | MLSFinder.com