Communication Conundrums - How to Surmount Them

Communication Conundrums - How to Surmount Them

by Microsoft Staff, September 2011

You’ve probably noticed that the thick stacks of mail that used to appear in your physical mailbox once a day, six days a week have thinned out a bit, while your virtual inbox now contains countless unread emails, as well as urgent messages that flood in 24/7, usually seeming to demand your immediate attention. What’s more, technology has made it simple to digitally manage your calendar, but figuring out the best way to safely do so while also remaining in-sync with coworkers, clients, family and friends can be far from simple, not to mention time-consuming.

To make the most of new ways of communicating and coordinating, it’s vital that you have the right tools at your fingertips and some know-how on how best to use them. Here are a few guidelines and time-saving ideas that can help sort out your work day:

  • Smarter Subject Lines – Part of the stress that comes from sorting through an overcrowded mailbox results from unclear subject lines. While you can’t control how everyone communicates, try establishing a new office policy that requires employees to use subject lines that begin with one of the following directives: RO (read-only), RR (response requested), or AR (action requested). Incorporating this kind of clarity into the subject line can make it quicker to determine, at a glance, which emails require your immediate attention.
  • Try the Four “Ds” – Another time-saving idea that might help you better manage your email involves processing your messages using the four Ds:
    • Delete it
    • Do it
    • Delegate it
    • Defer it

    This process becomes easier if you leverage your email software’s categorizing systems. You may have a way to flag important emails or move them into separate folders or task lists. By taking advantage of these tools while employing the “four Ds,” you’ll likely find the task of sorting through email a lot more efficient.
  • Calendar in the Cloud – Using digital calendaring solutions makes it easy to coordinate meetings and appointments, and you don’t have to worry about losing your calendar and all its priceless information at an airport or restaurant. On the other hand, you might still be faithful to your paper-based calendaring system for fear that a network failure or computer virus would erase all your data in one fell swoop. Many cloud-based calendaring services, such as Office 365, provide you with enterprise-class security and reliability features that safeguard your information should disaster occur.
  • Stay in Sync – If you rely on your PC and phone for email and calendar information, make things easier on yourself by opting for a solution that doesn’t require you to download your email in batches or hook up your phone to your PC to sync your calendar information. Cloud-based solutions like Office 365 give you anytime, anywhere access to your email and calendar, meaning you can respond to issues in real-time, as well as save the time you ordinarily would have spent syncing your devices.

The irony of communicating with digital technology is that while it’s supposed to make our lives easier one way, it can sometimes be more of a hassle in other ways. The trick is to not try and incorporate all of the technology that’s out there, but rather determine the solutions and combinations of tools that will work best for your business. Once you’ve got that down, communicating should be a breeze. Imagine that.

For more information on ways your email and calendaring solutions could be working for, and not against you, check out the Office 365 home page. Look for the “Try Office 365” button to get started with a free 30-day trial. Thanks to the cloud, Office 365 makes it possible for smaller companies to access enterprise-grade technology and compete on a new playing field, all without breaking the bank.