Brought To You By Emily Parks
Productivity Consultant at Organize For Success, LLC...
Helping You Make Every Minute Matter!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Get Clear For The New Year Week #3: Organize Your Calendar and Contact Systems

As we talk about steps you can take now to make the new year your best thus far, we are empowering you with the optimal tools to drive your desired workflow results, which must include your calendar and contacts’ list. While many might contend that “one is a lonely number”, when it comes to your productivity, I say that one is a very powerful number. With that in mind, I highly recommend you address your productivity toolbox like you are one human-being, not a personal you versus a professional you, which means...

One Calendar: A single planner enables tracking all commitments in one place, making it less likely to forget anything. Having business and personal showing at once will allow scheduling for you as one full entity and better ensure that nothing falls through the cracks while you avoid any double-booking.

One Place for All Your To-Do Items: Keeping all action items that need your attention in one running list allows you to easily pull 3 - 5 items for each day’s must-do list, making it more likely all will get done, aiding in prioritizing and empowering you to assign each “what” a “when” so time is scheduled for its completion.

One “Data Dump”: Our brains are designed to think, not remember, but we fill them with more and more each day; keeping all that we’d like to remember in one place (such as in your Evernote database) ensures meeting notes, ideas, phone messages, inspirations and the like are easily accessible from anywhere.

One Address Book / Contact Relationship Management (CRM) Tool: For contacts’ names, phone numbers, emails and snail mail addresses as well as any related notes, keeping everyone’s information centralized better ensures contacts’ data is kept up-to-date and accessible. When updates must be made in numerous places, they’re less likely to get done.

One “Weekly Strategy Session”: As we discussed last week, dedicating time each week to creating a game plan for the upcoming week means more gets done and keeps you on the right track, especially pared with a morning jumpstart and end-of-day wrap-up. With this trio of tools, you stay in control of your actions.

To elaborate on steps you can take right now to prepare for your greatest successes in the new year, here are a few calendar-related items to consider and incorporate in your actions:

- Whether paper or electronic, make sure your one calendar solution for 2015 is equipped with the holidays, birthdays, important events and reminders that are most important for you. If any are missing, add them now; plus, if your solution is electronic, add alerts as appropriate to keep you on track.

- Get in the habit of documenting all activities; rather than depending on your brain or a running list of events, let your calendar do the heavy-lifting for all date-specific commitments.

- As you become more comfortable with your weekly strategy session, morning jumpstart and end-of-day wrap-up, you’ll view your calendar solution as a bigger and bigger part of your productivity toolbox; with all the options available, there is guaranteed to be a good fit for your specific needs. Test out what options exist until you find a good fit for your needs, whether paper or electronic, daily or weekly or monthly view.

Likewise, to further elaborate on steps you can take right now to prepare for your greatest successes in the new year, here are a few contacts-related items to consider and incorporate in your actions:

- Whether paper or electronic, make sure your one address book or CRM tool is filled with all your contacts, whether personal or professional, including clients, team members, vendor partners, friends, family members, neighbors, industry contacts, networking connections or referrals. 

- Double-check that each person’s record includes the most up-to-date information for contacting that particular individual, including that person’s current phone number, email address, job title, place of employment and pertinent notes. If you are looking for a technological tool to shortcut this process, consider apps like EasilyDo, Humin, Sync.ME, Brewster, EverContact and FullContact.

- Determine what will be your system for continually inputting updated or additional information as it is brought to your attention. While this may be resolved via one of the aforementioned apps, if someone mentions her new job to you when you’re meeting face-to-face, you’ll need a specific process to document the associated updates and, then, add them to your contacts’ solution. You might want to document them in your “data dump” and schedule one block of time weekly to transfer the updates.

- If you would like a solution that does more than any address book can complete, consider a Contact Relationship Management (or CRM) Tool. With a CRM tool, you remember everything about each individual with whom you’ve connected and you make sure no opportunities fall through the cracks. As you are searching for your best option for a CRM solution, determine whether its ease of use, accessibility, customization and integration with other tools all meet your specific needs; then, make sure you test drive the product before making any short- or long-term commitment. Options that deserve some consideration are ACT!, Infusionsoft, Insightly, Nimble, OntraPort and Zoho CRM.

Speaking of CRMs, as these provide structure for walking prospects through a sales process, they empower leaders to hold team members accountable, measuring each team member’s success rate as they move prospects from step to step of the sales process. Be sure that each team member is aware of what consequences exist for not utilizing the designated sales process, provide resources for improving conversion rates and hold each team member accountable for trying to improve. Via structure, customer relationship management boosts success.

ASSIGNMENT: Visit here to see a video related to this blog post; then, this week, clarify what you’ll use as your one calendar solution, one place for all your to-do items, one “data dump”, one contact management solution and one weekly strategy session. Then, make sure your calendar solution includes alerts for any applicable holidays, birthdays and important events, starting to develop the habit of documenting all activities in this one calendar solution. Finally, verify you have the most up-to-date contact information for everyone in your database and choose a tool and / or process for ongoing maintenance of contacts’ data.

Where has “the power of one” proven most helpful for your productivity? Do you prefer a paper or an electronic solution for your calendaring tool? Alternatively, do you utilize any apps to help maintain your contacts’ information? Further, are you using a paper or electronic address book or do you prefer a CRM tool instead? What do you find as strengths and weaknesses of paper versus electronic for any of your current productivity tools?

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