Don’t get me wrong - I love technology! It is a wonderful tool that has helped us become organized more efficiently and quickly than we could ever have done manually. It assists us in setting up regularly scheduled tasks so they occur like clockwork; monthly mailings, organizing and categorizing contact lists, and lead follow-up are now contained in neat, orderly electronic systems we can access and activate with the push of a button.
However, it’s taken me time to realize that some of my activities and goals were not getting accomplished simply BECAUSE they were electronic. For example:
All my contacts are in ACT! This tool helps my Marketing Director and me keep in contact with people on a regular basis. But I was recently reminded of a call I needed to make, got distracted and forgot. Several days later (after my brain had been rattling “something” around that I couldn’t quite remember), I remembered that I had a call to make, found time to look up the phone number in ACT! and made the call - late. Part of the problem is that often when I do remember to make a call, I’m not at my desk, so the phone number that would enable me to make it during a free moment in the car or another remote location isn’t handy.
Is it as frustrating to you as it is to me to have all this technology at your disposal and still miss deadlines and goals?
The problem is this:
1. The visual reminder is gone: In the old days, we’d have a written To Do List (or book) that sat on our desks (or came with us everywhere we went), visually reminding us of our daily/weekly/monthly tasks. With tasks now locked neatly away in our electronic gadgets (often hidden inside purses, pockets and briefcases), it is too easy to forget that we still have things that should be done today. Unfortunately, no matter how good your memory is, once too many items accumulate on that list, something will get lost in the cracks.
2. The visual reward is gone: Not only did the list serve as a reminder of items to be accomplished, but it also served as its own built-in reward, since visual people love to see those items crossed off, checked off or otherwise visually marked as DONE! The visual reward itself was a motivation to “get that last item off your To Do List!”
3. Technology is not always as convenient as we’d like to think: If we’re not in the same place as our electronic information, even if we remember that we have something to do (or someone to call), the critical information we need is not where we are at the time we remember it! Our days are crammed with calls, appointments, paperwork, personal errands - you name it. There are days I can’t sit in front of my computer until late at night, after I’ve taken care of all my other tasks during the day! How many times have you been in the car and remembered a call you had to make, but the phone number (or other important information you need to properly serve your customer) is “locked” inside your desktop computer, making it impossible to complete the To Do item?
And lest we say, “Oh, but we should get a PDA and sync up our lists and carry the PDA everywhere,” let us keep in mind that:
1. Not everyone can afford all the gadgets available, especially at the beginning of a new business
2. Sometimes gadgets crash and lose information (usually at the most critical moment - a la Murphy) - or have no battery life left because we forgot to charge them
3. Sometimes gadgets get “misplaced” - or just plain ole lost!
4. Maybe we haven’t had time to sync our PDA with our desktop, so that new client’s phone number is ONLY in our desktop - and not in our PDA
5. Some people don’t want to carry 100 pounds of gadgets (not to mention all their chargers!) everywhere they go
6. Some of us just aren’t “gadgetty” people!
Here’s a solution that has helped me and that I now recommend to my “visually-oriented” clients:
1. Even if you have your To Do List in an electronic Task List, print it out and place it on your desk (or on your car seat if you have to leave your office). The list will remind you of the tasks you must accomplish, while rewarding you with visual satisfaction once items are completed. Print the list for the entire upcoming week (so you don’t have to remember - or make time - to do it every day). Even if not every item is on the printed list, most will be (you can always hand-write them in as they arise).
2. Even if you have a PDA, print your active client list periodically. This way your information will be handy, whether or not your PDA is updated, sync’d or charged - allowing you to make critical phone calls when you need to do so. I used to carry an alphabetical list with me all the time when I was a REALTOR (and used it ALL THE TIME) to make phone calls between appointments!
3. Keep a small wire-bound notebook or pad with you at all times to write down To Do items as they arise. When someone asks you to send a fax, jot a quick note with the fax number in it. When someone calls on your cell (or leaves a voice mail message), write the message in the To Do book, since almost every phone call or message I receive results in something “To Do” – don’t yours?
By keeping some simple non-electronic things available at all times (even if they’re based on electronic systems to keep them organized), you increase the chances that your “neatly organized” goals will actually get done, rather than simply remaining “neatly organized - but incomplete” in your shiny electronic gadgets!
National speaker, trainer and coach, Sandy Geroux is an award-winning salesperson who helps others achieve breakthrough performance through her programs on sales, customer service and effective risk-taking. Visit her on the web athttp://sandygeroux.com/ or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.