Whatever stage your business is in, I can guarantee that you are managing a lot of information. It may sound familiar to be juggling things like correspondence, deadlines, project work and your ideas on a daily basis. Today I am going to share some simple strategies of how to easily send and receive information without it being a stressful or overwhelming process.
Information can come to in the form of a phone call, email, text or even a knock at the office door. When you get that email or pick up the phone, the first step is to identify if it is reference material that is ‘response required’ or not. Reference material is anything that you will need to access at a later time. For example, it could be details about the date and time of a networking event (time based) or some industry news that you will need to look at later for a project you are working on.
The information that comes to you but doesn’t require a response is often the hardest to keep track of. One of the most effective strategies you can use is to categorize information and prepare a collection area before it comes. Of course, you can’t predict every type of information that will come your way, but don’t worry. You should easily be able to create Excel documents or sections in your paper planners/notebooks to divide topics such as Marketing, Product/Service Development, Website, Industry news etc. When creating these documents, it can be worth double checking for clarity and accuracy, particularly if there is a financial element to the data. There are numerous examples of very costly mistakes from an error in a spreadsheet, so it’s always worth making sure.
As you start noticing trends in types of information you can add them as you go. Having this area prepared is a quick solution for handing the information that does not yet need to be processed. It is also an easy way to input new information and reference it because it is not getting mixed up from the beginning.
If the reference material is time related, it is considered ‘response required’. To handle this information, simply write down the task in relation to a date or time in your calendar, right at that moment. This could be details of a webinar you intend on attending or something related to sending information to someone else. If you don’t do it as soon as you receive it, it will be something that can get lost in the shuffle.
If you don’t have time to do any follow up action when receiving information, then don’t receive it. Remember, this is your business and you get to set up your day the way that works best for you. It’s better to call the client back when you are available to talk, rather than let it interrupt your current work and risk forgetting to follow up.
Finding a way to manage this information proactively is key to being productive and reducing the stress that comes along with not being able to easily access information when you need it. You get to step out of being reactionary in your business and give yourself more time and opportunity to dive deeper into the work at hand.
It may require an initial time investment, but it will save you far more time and decrease stress in the future when any kind of information needs to be sent or received in your business.