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Attention Management and Changing Habits

During the holiday break, my kids were off from school and I put up my out of office email to let my clients know I was working on a limited schedule. I was around, but not working much. I’m assuming my clients were also busy doing their thing during the holidays, because email, text, and phone were quiet. On the days I chose to do some work, I was amazingly productive and I attribute this to the lack of interruptions that seem to occur during a regular work day. I’ve worked hard to regulate email: I have auto send/receive turned off on my laptop and my phone and I only click that send/receive button when I’m at a point where I can read and respond to emails. But, I’ve noticed that I respond to texts and phone calls differently. Unlike email, phone calls and texts are pushed to me and I don’t want to blindly ignore these methods of communication. If the kids are sick or my parents need to reach me, I want to receive important calls. But, often, phone calls and texts come in that do not need immediate attention. Even knowing this, my inclination is to respond to the text or answer the phone call. This interruption is distracting, pulls me away from the priorities I set for myself and my clients, and puts me at the mercy of someone else’s priorities.

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Effective Communication in Web Design

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:

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Email: The Battle for Control

August and September were super busy months for me. In addition to the growing pains of hiring someone and deciding to run my own dedicated server and host my own websites, I also had a bunch of websites that were in the launching phase. Launching any website makes for a busy time. Last minute changes are being thrown in. A zillion emails are going back and forth. There’s a good amount of testing to do.

I don’t usually like to have more than one or two websites in the launching phase, but I had six (yes, SIX) in this phase. It was stressful, to say the least. Four of those website have been launched (check out the Portfolio page to read about those awesome projects and clients!) and two are still being wrapped up. During this crazy time, my inbox was filling up with emails waiting for a response and email became a big source of anxiety for me.

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