Many entrepreneurs and executives struggle with their priorities.
As their businesses grow or they rise within a larger company, they must review more and more information in multiple inboxes.
It becomes all but impossible to keep on top of everything.
Ryan Gallagher is the founder and CEO of iovox. This call service and provider employs 32 people in Sydney, Paris, London and San Francisco and helps entrepreneurs and executives improve their productivity via call tracking and analytics.
Prior to founding iovox, Gallagher worked at a senior level in several large businesses and enterprises.
He found that managers in these companies struggled to keep on top of business-critical information, much less move their organizations forward.
“The worst thing is people who go into meetings every week, and it’s like Groundhog Day. They don’t remember what was decided last time,” he said.
If this is happening in your business or organization, consider these three approaches.
1. Prioritize Your Inboxes
A busy entrepreneur or executive might have multiple inboxes to review each day, including instant messaging, phone logs and email.
Gallagher elaborated on the problem. “You wake up in the morning…and you have a ton of emails to get through. So how do you order what you’re doing, and how do you even remember what you’re doing?”
Effective entrepreneurs and managers approach this problem by reviewing their inboxes at a set time, marking or flagging what’s important and later on working on those items first.
In other words, processing your inboxes doesn’t equate to working on individual emails, notifications or requests.
“I scan through maybe 200 emails first thing in the morning. I flag whichever ones I need to spend time on, the rest I just skim read and then just move on,” said Gallagher.
“After I’ve done that initial part, I go through and say, “Okay, what do I need to do with these ones which are flagged?”
2. Delegate, Delegate, Delegate
The next step involves either working on a request yourself or delegating it.
Many entrepreneurs and new managers struggle with the latter. They reason because they know their business so well, they can complete said task or project faster than a colleague or contractor.
“Ego gets in the way,” Gallagher said. “You’re like, ‘I’m the best at everything’ and then you need to just go home because if you’re the best at everything then you shouldn’t hire anybody.”
Gallagher is an engineer by trade, and he uses his training to figure out what tasks he’s great, good and not so good at.
Solving this “puzzle”, as Gallagher describes it, helps him figure out what to delegate to others within his company.
“It’s not necessarily about [doing tasks] I’m the best at,” he said. “It’s more about who in this company is best at dealing with this task rather than what I’m specifically best at.”
3. Document What’s Important
Meetings are a critical part of working life and represent one more source of information, particularly for new managers.
Digital documentation is useful to those who struggle with remembering what was said to whom and when. It’s also ideal for managers who struggle with information overload. Gallagher uses Microsoft OneNote as a documentation tool for meetings.
“I have meeting notes going back maybe 15 years in OneNote, all searchable,” he said.
Even if you don’t like using OneNote, the tool is less important than having a process for documenting what’s important to you, your team or business.
After a meeting, for example, a one line summary, a series of bullets points and a list of next actions should suffice.
There’s no big secret to finally conquering overwhelm in your business or organization. Simply establish a workflow to process and manage information in your inboxes or next meeting and document what matters to you.
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