The average business person sends and receives 140 emails every day. That’s a lot of time spent reading, decoding, writing, editing, and re-writing emails. I find email communication essential to doing my job well: because I have a young family and my kids are with me at different times during the day, I rely on email to do most of my communication. The challenge with email is that it’s not always easy to communicate clearly and effectively without ambiguity or confusion. Reading, responding and understanding an email is a time-consuming process, so becoming a better emailer is in my best interest.
I read an article recently about giving clear, understandable instructions to employees and I realized I could interpret these suggestion to give my clients tips on how to provide clear instructions when sending me website updates. This article inspired me to do some additional Googling and thinking about what makes an effective email. Here’s what I came up with:
Summer was wonderful and I’m sad that it’s coming to a close. The kids are both back in school and that means my schedule has changed. I’ll have more dedicated work time than I’ve ever had in the last 6 years. In some ways, I’ll miss the relaxed, lazy days where we made last minute plans or just played in the creek in our backyard all morning. But, I’m also really looking forward to getting back into a regular routine and having more time to focus on my business. I tend to struggle with finding time for my business and with a reduced work schedule, that was nearly impossible this summer. Now, fall is almost here and I plan on getting back into regular blog posts and weekly tech tips – two things I’ve come to really love!
One thing that surprised me when I was reflecting about what I did and didn’t do for my business this summer, was that I’ve really missed writing for my website. The process of writing has been incredibly helpful to me in terms of processing my goals for my business and it’s also helped me refine just what I want to do with my life. I love my business and what I do, and the more I do it, the more I realize and understand just what aspects of my business I like and which ones I don’t enjoy so much. My monthly blog posts have gone a long way to clarifying the direction of my business.
Besides writing, I plan on setting aside one day a week for no meetings. This means I’ll have one day that’s completely dedicated to working on client work or other business work. I wasn’t always able to do this last year or in the summer and now, I’m finding that I need that dedicated work block to get in some focused coding or design time.
Those are my two immediate goals as fall arrives and I’m sure I’ll need to adjust and change and I figure out what schedule really works for me. It feels good to be typing this post and I’m looking forward to spending more time writing and updating my portfolio (which is definitely in need of some freshening up)! And, of course, I’m looking forward to launching some really cool websites this fall. I’ve been lucky to work with some great clients this summer and we’re close to wrapping up their websites. Keep an eye out for updates soon!
Image source: SLSA PRG 280/1/11/442
I’ve written a lot on this blog about the challenges of raising a family, working from home, work-life “balance” (hah!), and growing a small business. I love all of these things – it’s very important to me to be available to my kids and my family and it’s also important to me to challenge myself through the work I do in the web design world. Yet, there’s a point when it becomes not fun – when I feel too busy, too stressed, too drained… and life just overwhelms me. I felt that a lot through the late summer and fall of last year. I was struggling with my workload. There was never enough time. Never enough sleep. I was too busy and couldn’t keep my head above water.
A client recently mentioned to me that her website (which I launched, um, well over six months ago) that she didn’t see her website on my portfolio. I laughed and gave her some line about “the cobbler’s children have no shoes” and then said I was going to work on updating my portfolio with my most recent work. That was over a month ago and I still haven’t updated my portfolio.
I recently wrote out my goals for 2014. The second goal is “Spending more time dedicated to A Mix of Pixels: blogging, updating my website, and continuing education, to name a few”. I’ve done some blogging and kept up with my tips of the week. But, updating my website and continuing education haven’t really gotten any attention.
I often come across little tidbits of knowledge that I think are helpful to me in terms of business, productivity, web development, or just life, in general. These tips may have been inspired because I’ve come across a good tip on another, I’ve figured out the answer to a problem, or a client asked me a question. I’m going to post them here under “Tip of the Week”. I’ll try to post them every Friday.
This week’s tip is a productivity tip on using your smartphone to deposit a check. I receive most of my payments for my work via check. I used to wait until I’d received several checks after invoicing, then I’d make a run to the bank. Inevitably, the very next day, I’d receive another check in the mail, requiring me to find time to run back to the bank. Several months ago, my bank started allowing mobile check deposits. I signed up immediately and it’s been a huge time saver for me. Now, when I receive a check, I simply open up my bank’s app on my iPhone, take a photo of the front and back and then deposit it. It takes my about 30 seconds to complete the entire operation. If I compare that to running to the bank about 3-4 times per month, I’m saving myself an hour or two in time and a few bucks in gas.
For those of your worried about the security of depositing a check via a mobile device, Popular Mechanics has a good summary of what’s involved with a mobile check deposit. Bottom line: your data is safe and encrypted when you deposit a check using your smartphone, but you should never use a mobile banking app on any kind of open or public Wi-Fi network.
Image by Bes Z (CC BY 2.0) via flickr