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#568: Use Technology to Manage Your Communications

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Information overload is a problem with everyone, but particularly with consultants who research and track lots of industries and specializations. However, most strategies dealing with overload tell me to cut out information. Instead, how can I better extract useful knowledge?

We have a conflict between wanting more information but in less time to se can absorb it. If the strategy of unsubscribing and filtering out do not appeal to you or detract from your needs, then you are talking about increasing its density instead of reading faster every email, blog and white paper. There are book summaries, converting text to speech and using digests to cull through more voluminous content, but consultants would benefit from actually mining the data they do receive for information on exactly how to manage their communications.

Never doubt the ability of entrepreneurs to address an obvious problem and sell the solution to consumers or for bigger companies to do the same for internal use and then give the solution to outsiders for whom it might fulfill a need. There are two such solutions to help better understand how you might keep your Outlook contents from overwhelming you.

The first is Xobni (see tip #255 for more details) which can help you see the who, when, what and, to some extent, the why of your email overload. Both free and paid versions are available to facilitate faster searching, better understand who is most clogging your email and when most of your communication is done. The second is The Business of Your Brain, goes beyond Xobni to examine your Outlook files (privately) to see where you are spending your time (e.g., how many hours per day, week or month you spend in meetings), what people you are most engaged with, how much time you spend in meetings, and vocabulary you most use in your emails. The point of this is to help you decide where your time is best spent and with whom.

Tip: These tools presume you record your life in Outlook but even if you do not use Outlook or do not record everything, these products are based on a logical premise that getting control of your day is possible only if you understand where it "disappears" or is being spent productively.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  communication  practice management  your consulting practice 

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