We’ve all developed a sort of love/hate relationship with technology. We love that it can make outreach, follow-up, and tracking easier, yet we struggle with the lack of human-to-human contact that used to be such a large part of our jobs. Part of the problem? We’re not using tech to get our tasks in order.
If your desk is covered in post-it notes, to-do lists scribbled on scrap paper, and mystery notes that you can’t remember why you wrote down, this post is for you. Below are five hacks to free up your inbox, clean out your network, and organize your internet life so you can spend more time making real connections.
Color code and label your email.
Think of your inbox like your closet. Everything has its place; your inbox is the same. Set up a rule and filter out anything that doesn’t need to be addressed right away, create a folder for things like newsletters and promotions and set a calendar reminder to check it once a week.
Clients who are a bit needier than others, or the ones who have open positions that need to be filled immediately, want to know they have your full attention. And you don’t want their messages to get lost in your unread messages. Color code them as “urgent” and deal with them first every day.
Staying organized with inbox labeling is a great way to free up some of your time and prioritize what really gets results.
It’s hard to imagine an afternoon when you’re not furiously responding to emails and boolean searching LinkedIn. But everything in our industry changing so quickly, it’s up to you to stay updated on trends.
Put some time on your schedule for online courses, webinars, or even research (or finally read those trends articles you’ve bookmarked for the past six months). Skillshare has more than one online video class on how to be more productive, along with hundreds on HR and recruiting. (Matt Charney has 108 classes, and we know he’s on top of our industry’s trends.)
Clean up your connections and nurture your network.
Yes, it’s true that you never know when you might need to ask a connection for help (an introduction, a “please share,” etc.), but if you haven’t communicated with that person since freshman year COMM class, chances are you probably won’t.
Edit your LinkedIn network down to meaningful connections. Review your list, ask yourself if you’d reach out to this person for any reason in the future, and remove them if you wouldn’t. If your LinkedIn network is as large as most recruiters, this could be a lengthy chore. Try setting aside an hour a week, or a month, to remove anyone you don’t actually know or speak to. This is also a great time to send a “hello, how are you” note to those you haven’t touched base with in a while (without expecting anything in return).
Track everything and ask for feedback.
Use your color coded inbox and files as a record of your history. Once a quarter, put some time on your calendar to go through those files and figure out what worked, what didn’t, what varied between industries, and note any similarities.
The only way you can improve your outreach is by finding where the problem is. Identify shortcomings with metrics and ask your clients about what they want more, or less of. Collecting feedback via phone or individual email can be much more telling than a group email or automated survey. This is also a good time to evaluate what you should spend more or less time doing.
Use automation when necessary.
It might be hard to recall, but there was a time before computers and the internet where professionals had paper everything and the phone was the most efficient outreach method. Also fax machines. If your calendar is online, your reminders and tasks should be integrated with your email and calendar (color code them if you miss using sticky notes), your computer’s calendar synced with your phone, and you’ll never miss a call or a meeting due to a misplaced piece of paper again.
It’s possible to do your job without automation, but we would be fools to not use the technology that was created to make us more productive. Use automation for tasks, analytics, and anything that will free up your time for more human-to-human contact.
Whether you’re trying to stay organized or just need a little direction on improving your workflow, these hacks can help do that. Work with technology to create a work environment that leaves you feeling confident in your efficiency and effectiveness to get the job done.