One of the advantages of someone of my age is that I can still remember the times without personal computers, laptops, internet, mobile phones, tablets and other tools of the new world we live in today.
An office was run quite differently in those days. Letters would come in. Paper letters in the mail. We would draft a response and the secretary would type this on an IBM electric typewriter (yes we were beyond the stone ages). After we reviewed the draft usually the reply would have to be retyped and tools like type correction tape and correction fluid were the modern conveniences in those days. The whole process took some time and only after the introduction of the fax machines we got to experience a bit of the racing madhouse that today’s business environment is.
It is hard to find a bigger supporter of using today’s tools, technology and processes than me but there are some lessons to be learned from the good old days.
- We wrote original material and could not copy and paste, hence didn’t have some of the embarrassing mistakes that this process causes.
- We used drafts and reread a response before we would send it off.
- It was difficult to forget to enclose attachments.
- We focused on the task at hand, because multitasking was not so wide spread having no distractions on your desktop.
- We paid attention in meetings.
- We were responsible for our own actions and correspondence as there was no snooping software or recording of our calls.
The above are good practices that may have been lost over the years but are worth maintaining also in today’s world.
- Consider your means of communication carefully, does everything need to go by email or are there better ways to deal with it? Text, telephone, mail etc.
- Pay attention when using copy and paste, too many embarrassing moments happen every year in every office.
- Re-read your correspondence, belief me it will improve quality.
- Focus and participate in a meeting or go do something else but don’t play with your phone/tablet.
- Use a software that alerts you when you mention attachments but do not attach them.
- Read my article about multitasking and reconsider your habits. Stay focused.
Getting up to speed with all new technologies and taking advantage of all the conveniences that today’s world has to offer can make our lives easier but the pace and abundance of information may also be counter productive, maintaining some of the thorough processes from the old days will improve your business. The fact that you receive the question one nano second after it has been sent, does not imply that you need to answer the question also in the next nano second. Be alert but be accurate and be thorough.