14 Dec

If you are a LeanMail user who finds him or herself on the road a lot…

by Michael Hoffman

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If you are a LeanMail user who finds him or herself on the road a lot — perhaps you don’t even start your computer every day, you can still keep up with LeanMail.

 Here’s how:

Of course the best way is to download the LeanMail app for iPhone (now in a Beta version) by contacting us at info@atrendia.com

But if you don’t have an iPhone there are still some things that you can do to leverage the power of LeanMail.

  1. When you finally do get to your computer, faithfully follow the two-step process: Prioritize all your mails before planning them.  Once you get to your Today view, review your list and reschedule the mails that you know you won’t get to.  It’s best to do this in the All view so that you can drag and drop single mails or groups of mails to specific dates.

I want to be very clear that there is no more efficient way of managing your inbox than following the LeanMail method.  If there were we would have incorporated it into our method. (Actually we do this each time someone has a brilliant idea! Send your brilliant ideas to info@atrendia.com.)

Every time you don’t follow the method (skip prioritizing or planning, hunt around your inbox for important mails), you lose precious time.  It’s not easy, but fight the urge to hunt.  In the end, you’ll have a system you trust and that is unbeatable in terms of speed and accuracy.

  1. Remember that prioritizing and planning mails doesn’t take that long – even if it feels like it sometimes, so even if you only have fifteen minutes to work on your email, try to get on your computer to manage your inbox at least once a day*.  It will:
    1. Help you get an overview of what your day/week is looking like
    2. Ensure that the most important mails will get done
    3. Ensure that the most urgent mails will get done
    4. Lower your stress about not being in control
  2. In a worst case scenario, you can just prioritize and act on the High priority mails for the time being.  In this case you would prioritize everything first (remember it only takes a minute to prioritize 20 mails once you get good at doing it), then plan/do only the important ones.

The important mails are the 20% that produce 80% of your results, so the worst case scenario is still much better than what you were doing before.

Send us your feedback.  We want to learn from our troops on the front lines!

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13 Oct

Why leaders are blind to the most important productivity opportunity of all

by Michael Hoffman

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Email is the leading cause of preventable productivity loss in organizations today.
Forbes Magazine (2008)

Employees spend 1 to 3 or more hours per day managing email at 40-60% of capacity.  That means they typically lose 30-60 minutes PER DAY.   Not some.  All — even the ones who believe they are extremely productive. That means you too.

It goes completely unnoticed because you probably think this is an exaggeration.  It isn’t.  Go ahead and challenge me.

Employees, many of them top managers, lose, forget or simply don’t have time to get to 5-15% or more of their email – a lot of which is highly important.  Many of these mails haven’t even been looked at.

It goes completely unnoticed because it has become status quo.  It shouldn’t because it is ravaging your business.

These otherwise highly productive employees often answer unimportant little task emails rather than pouring their focus into the most important things – systematically.  The idea of applying a methodology to the way people manage email (25-30% or more of their day I remind you) is not even discussed or considered.  Who’s in charge of email productivity in your company?  No one.  It’s not even on the map.

It goes completely unnoticed because you think email is personal and difficult to systemize.  Rubbish.

There is no other single activity in your business that is as poorly regulated and in so much need of improvement than email management, and yet…

…it goes completely unnoticed.

Why isn’t fixing email management a burning platform in your organization?

blogpicYou guessed it.  The problems go completely unnoticed; and for good reason: no one has experienced what it is like to have an entire team of employees:

  • working their inboxes at twice the current velocity;
  • prioritizing and executing what is important and urgent; and
  • having complete visibility control over what is going on at all times of the day. 
  • never late, never missing ANY emails.

Face it, most people probably can’t imagine that this is possible – THAT’s why there is no burning platform.  You simply can’t know what you don’t know or have experienced.  Wilbur and Orville had this same problem.

Click here to read all the comments from cynics like yourself and see the light.

 

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05 Oct

Inbox480 – My Personal Story – Part I

by Michael Hoffman

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Inbox480blogpost1It all started with a client.

To begin with, his IT manager had told him that 92% of his incoming email was spam and was filtered out before it ever reached his inbox. So my client never saw more than ninety percent of his incoming volume.

What my client found even more astonishing was that among the things that did reach him, he considered at least eighty percent of it “quasi-spam” — newsletters, articles and press releases, vendors trolling for new projects, social media, etc. — things that vied for his attention but were, more often than not, unwanted and unimportant.

Implications: In his unfiltered mail, out of every 100 messages he was being sent, fewer than two were essential.

So even with a spam filter, on a daily basis my client had to wade through and ultimately delete eighty percent of his email.  That’s a lot of decision-making and clicking for no return. — I asked him:

Why don’t you just unsubscribe from these senders instead of deleting them all the time?

Well, he said, every once in a while a vendor or newsletter — or even a LinkedIn group — has something interesting to say. I don’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater.  

So I said to him: Sounds like you could use a new inbox that only your essential senders could get into.

Exactly, he said.

That got me thinking.  I was pretty sure that others had that same problem, so we commenced work on our latest solution, Inbox480.  The inbox for 80 percent of your mail.

I480

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08 May

Is this you?

by Michael Hoffman

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FullSizeRenderI’ve seen Hector (not his real name) wheeling his cart around Barcelona a few times. It’s massive. It must be extremely difficult to maneuver. One day I went up to him asked him if he really needed all of those things. He actually articulated an impressive defense.

Does that remind you of anyone you know?

It reminds me of all the people I have encountered who justify their overstuffed inboxes, piles of papers on their desks and drawers filled with goodness knows what. Just like this homeless person, they carry all their crap around (mostly digitally) and defend their ways as not being problematic at all for them. I can find everything; It doesn’t bother me; I’m a creative type; or the biggest lie: I don’t have the time (What they mean is: I don’t want to prioritize being orderly).

If someone took Hector’s cart, he would find a new one. In a few weeks it would be as big as he could bear because he is a pathological hoarder. What about you? Isn’t it true that those times you have cleared your desktop, physically or digitally, you have gotten some satisfaction – and maybe even some pride from the achievement? Yes, it eventually fell apart again because you didn’t have the correct habits in place, but that’s another story. The point is that it felt good. You felt organized and on top of things. If you have had moments like that, then you’re not a pathological hoarder. But if those moments are few and far-between you’re also not at your best. Imagine having that feeling of being at your best, not just when you finally get so tired of the mess that you painstakingly clean it up, but EVERY DAY. Just because it hasn’t worked for you in the past doesn’t mean you can’t be more consistent NOW. It just means that you need some help in finding out what the trick is – for you – from someone who has enabled many others in the past.

Rome wasn’t built in a day and it takes time to build new habits, but what if you could change this part of your life in a few short weeks? From then on, you’d be at your best EVERY DAY. Or you can continue with your cart; the one that everyone notices but you.

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23 Apr

Most salespeople completely blow their first newbiz meeting – including you

by Michael Hoffman

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You land a meeting with a prospect that you’ve been researching for quite some time.  Then you make the same mistake that most sales people make:  you book an hour-long meeting at her office.

Businessman
What’s wrong with that?  Plenty.  The chances of converting that meeting into a sale are quite slim at this point.  So let’s look at the math:

Meeting: 1 hour
Travel to and from: 1 hour
Waiting time (you always want to leave a margin for traffic): 15 minutes
Preparation: 30 minutes

You’ve just invested nearly three hours on a meeting that hasn’t yet been properly qualified.  Big mistake.

Not only that, for every meeting you’ve booked you could have probably booked three if you had asked for 15 minutes instead of an hour.

What can you do in 15 minutes? You’d be surprised – but who says it has to remain a 15-minute meeting if you’re both having fun?

 First, let’s look at the typical office visit:

  1. After travel and parking you wait for the prospect, then more waiting.  Even if you politely refuse the coffee in order to not lose more time, she’ll grab a cup.  Fine, you take care of the small chit-chat while you’re walking down that mile-long corridor.
  2. Down to 45 minutes, you get to business.  Introductions, etc.  Finally, you have 30 minutes to do your song and dance.

If you don’t get a second meeting, you’ve just blown about three hours.  Ouch!

Now let’s look at the potential behind 15-minute LeanMeetings® for sales executives

  1. No travel, no coffee, just a quick call to qualify each other.  Both of you agree this is a good idea before blowing an hour with a total stranger.
  2. With only 15 minutes to work with, you dispense with chit-chat and long introductions and get right down to the business of qualifying each other.
  3. If you’re not a good match, you’ve lost 15 minutes (more likely just 10 if you’re good) – not 3 hours!  Think about it: how many of your first face-to-face meetings get to the next level?  If it’s less than 100% then following this LeanMeetings® method is a no-brainer.  Don’t forget that you’re booking three times as many meetings because you’re only asking for 15 minutes.  Who doesn’t have 15 minutes?
  4. Wait, it gets better.  What if it goes well?  The phone call doesn’t have to end after 15 minutes.  You’ve planned 30 minutes in your calendar – and you’ve got to know that she doesn’t have an 11:15 or an 11:45 meeting right?  So you spend the second half of the call planning a “real” meeting with the right stakeholders attending.  In the end, you get the same amount of “quality time” but with less than 20% of the time investment – never mind the gas and parking savings.
  5. Your next meeting (your first live meeting) has the right people around the table so you book 90 minutes – at her suggestion.  Shazam!

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15 Apr

8 strategy questions every CEO should ask

by Jeroen de Flander

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With 300+ likes and 1K shares, the strategy article 8 things every leader should know about strategy somehow struck a nerve. But as many readers pointed out correctly, it’s one thing to know what strategy is all about, but it’s another to get out there and come up with one.

As you will probably agree, there is no magic formula for crafting the perfect strategy. If there was, the business world would look a lot different. But that does not mean there aren’t a few shortcuts that you can take. Here are 8 strategy questions to inspire your strategic thinking.

1. Should I strengthen my current strategy? And if yes, how?

Are you doing ok today? If yes, ask yourself how you can strengthen your existing strategy. Look for ways to improve what you do well already. Think about introducing new technology, features, products or services that leverage other areas in the value chain and fit with the current strategy. In short, build on what you already have.

2. How can I copy with pride?

Copying what others in your industry in your main markets are doing isn’t smart. You will start competing on the same axes and this competition will lead to price erosion. But copying can still pay off big time. The world is a big place and many great companies only operate locally. But in this information era, it’s easy to find them, learn from their success and see if some of their ingredients for success can be copied.

By spending only one evening on the internet, 56 out of the 80 companies that participated in my research found at least one great example in another geographical area that fuelled their strategic-thinking process

3. How can I go beyond product innovation?

Don’t focus only on the product or service – a risk, especially in an engineering environment. There are more things to a value chain then the product itself. The key to a sustainable competitive advantage is that ALL activities are tailored to the value proposition.

4. How can I recapture company heritage?

If your company has been around for some time, it follows that it has been doing something well for at least a certain time period. Finding out what that uniqueness is/was and reapplying it to boost your strategy is an interesting way of fuelling your reflection process about strategy. This doesn’t mean that you have to re-do it in the same way, but an adapted version might be just what you need.

5. How can I take advantage of a crisis?

Take a look at these figures from an article in the Harvard Management Update(Baveja, Ellis, Rigby, March 2008). A study of more than 700 companies over a six-year period found that “Twice as many companies made the leap from laggards to leaders during the last recession (90-91) as during surrounding periods of economic calm”. And most of these changes lasted long after the recession was over − a clear indication that what you do during the crisis determines your position when it’s over. Put differently, what you do during a crisis determines your strategic position once it’s over. So when the going gets tough, the tough get going. And win in the end.

So keep going, even when it’s tough out there.

6. How can I build an execution edge

Strategy Execution provides a competitive edge. A strategy needs to reinvent itself every five to seven years. Execution capabilities last much longer. So it pays off to invest in strategy execution excellence.

7. How can I innovate my business model?

A business model is a fancy word for the combination of choices you have made in your activities – your value chain – to bring your value proposition to life. The concept has been around for a long time, but for some reason, everyone apart from strategy consultants have forgotten about it. A recent book by Alexander Osterwalder in which he puts thinking about business models in an easy-to-use format has been a big hit. If you want to get going, identify activities and ask yourself some questions for each block.

8. How can I create Shared Value?

Sustainability is a hot topic today and I believe it is more than a fad. Shared Value is a new concept that helps strategists to incorporate social value into the strategic positioning of an organisation. And it goes far beyond philanthropy.

Michael Porter’s definition of Shared Value is: “You create shared value by enhancing the competitive position of a company while at the same time advancing the society in which it operates.”

The words ‘at the same time’ are very important. When people look at the relationship between a company and society, they tend to think it’s a zero-sum game, a game with only one winner. The strategy concept of Shared Value looks at the positive sum. It means that certain choices will strengthen the strategic position of the organisation and at the same time offer benefits for society.

It’s your challenge as a strategist to find that sweet spot.

There’s an active discussion on LinkedIn Pulse. You can join it here

Original source: The Performance Factory by Jeroen de Flander

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26 Mar

How my small company cut in half our $3.2 million dollar inbox expense in just 12 minutes!

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greasymOK, I have a small company of only 200 employees, so $3.2 million is nothing. But imagine a company of 2,000 employees that spend 2 hrs. per day on email with an average annual salary of $70,000. That would mean that they spend OVER HALF A MILLION DOLLARS PER DAY managing email.

Since we all know that email is a fact of life (nothing we can just cut out of the budget) I came up with a quick fix in the form of a memo that I sent to everyone in the company with the following 5 suggestions:

  1. Don’t check your mail too often during the day (Just enough so you don’t miss anything).
  2. Respond quickly. (I got this one from Google’s Eric Schmidt – GENIUS! – So don’t pay too much attention to rule 1)
  3. Use the OHIO rule; Only Handle It Once (unless you can’t, so don’t – and most you can’t)
  4. Prioritize your mails before responding, then answer the high priority mails first – remember that 80% of your business comes from 20% of your customers. (I’m sure there is a way to do this in Outlook, just play around with the menus until you get it right)
  5. Don’t Cc: everyone, just the ones who really need the information (But always keep your boss in the loop and maybe a few others.)

So I figure, if a CEO of a 2,000 employee company does what I did, he could save $16,000,000 in just 12 minutes.

Don’t believe me? I don’t blame you. The truth is you CAN double your productivity and cut in half your email management cost. But you CAN’Tdo it with a memo, seminar, workshop, add-in, app, or any of the other methods that you’ve tried. There is only one solution on the market that works for entire populations of employees and it takes a lot more time than 12 minutes to see the results. 10 TIMES That. (Yikes – two hours!)

It takes 10 times more time than a memo, but it’s the only long-term, complete solution for your multi-million dollar black hole you call an inbox.
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23 Jan

Guest blog: Drop It Like It’s Hot, By Jesper Sommer

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Not so long ago, Sony Corp. in the US was hacked. I am sure you’ve heard about the case (it was eventually blamed on North Korea, though security experts are questioning that conclusion).

My favorite tech-magazine has this interesting article on the subject:

The importance of deleting old stuff, another lesson from the Sony attack

Sociologists have previously (around the millennium) proposed that all non-essential data should have an expiration date. Their reasons were different: we’re drowning in data, and searching through piles of old stuff can sometimes be less productive than simply throwing it away early.

Regardless of the argument I think it is something for you guys to consider. Do we really need to save all that data (mails)? Probably not.

New ImageSo why not have a 90 day auto-delete on ALL mails, except if flagged for longer retention? It would be easy simply to make a few extra categories for it:

– 180 days
– 2 years
– forever

If the user puts none of these categories on archived mail, delete them after 90 days. Or whatever nummber of days your business experience tells you is optimal … but you get the idea.

Could this work?

Could we increase efficiency (become more Lean) simply by knowing that old crap data is just GONE? Could it lead to a healthy Lean-mail culture where employees communicate better because nobody expects their colleagues to be able to dig out aging mails from their archives? Could it lead to better and more clear communication with clients?

I am not an expert on these matters. But I find the premise interesting and appealing. And it would certainly help avoid disasters such as the one Sony is going though – as put forth by ArsTechnica.

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14 Jan

Sorry, Email Won’t Die In 2015 (Or Any Time Soon)

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typing-email-1There’s a horde of startups trying to replace email.

Some of these apps, like Slack (which we use at Business Insider), take a chat-room approach.

There are enterprise messaging apps that work like Snapchat, like Cotap and TigerText.

Some mobile-first productivity apps like Quip imagine that we’ll communicate directly in the documents we’re working on.

They’re all wrong.

According to the latest research conducted by the Pew Center Internet Project, 61% of American workers now say that email is “very important” for doing their job.

That number hasn’t moved at all in 13 years. As the researchers put it:

As early as 2002, Pew Research Internet surveys showed that 61% of American workers were using email at work. In 2008, we reported that 62% of working American adults were “networked workers,” meaning they used the internet or email in the workplace….Email’s vital role has withstood major changes in other communications channels such as social media, texting, and video chatting. Email has also survived potential threats like phishing, hacking and spam and dire warnings by commentators and workplace analysts about lost productivity and email overuse.

Why is email so resilient? The report doesn’t go into that, but it’s pretty obvious:

  • Everybody has it on every device. There’s no need to download anything, no need to learn a new app or system, no need to persuade your coworkers to use it.
  • It’s less interruptive than a phone call. The only other mode of communication that reaches everybody is the phone. But placing a phone call requires the other person to be available and willing to talk, right then.
  • It’s exceptionally flexible. Most of the tools that aim to replace email require you to do things in a certain way — for instance, if I want to make sure a colleague sees a message I post in Slack, I have to tag them with their handle, otherwise it might get lost in the flow of information in their newsfeed. (Sometimes, it gets lost anyway.) When I used Yammer at a previous job, we had to come up with conventions for the kinds of things we’d post and avoid. With email, it’s basically a blank slate — you can put anything you want into the blank box and the person on the other end will receive it.
  • It’s a deliverable — a measurable part of work. Email isn’t just for communication. It’s part of work. If your boss sends an email, you pretty much have to reply. There are plenty of other tools to coordinate workflow, but everybody still jumps back into email to send certain kinds of communications, like urgent requests for information, updates on particular tasks, brainstorming, you name it. You have no choice but to respond.

There are some ways email is used that aren’t perfect. For instance, a lot of people use their email inbox as a to-do list, even though it’s hard to organize and items sometimes fall through the cracks. Here, a tool built for workflow, like Asana, may end up being better.

But for day-to-day communication, email is not going away.

Original source: Business Insider UK

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11 Jan

Atrendia LeanMail V.3.1

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Atrendia Logo - small

 

We are pleased to announce the release of version 3.1 of the Atrendia LeanMail add-ins for Outlook 2007 and 2010.

 


This new version has several significant improvements including:

  • A “Read” button has been added in order to archive mails with the category *Read for mails that you want to read at some point but don’t want to assign a Next Action or When, i.e. newsletters, articles, documents, personal mail, etc. (2010 only)
  • The “New and Due” view has been replaced with a “Today” view that shows mails that have come due today (or previously). It will no longer distract you with new mails, which you can see in the “Prioritize”, “Plan” and “All” views.
  • The “New and Due” view (now the “Today” view) has a separate button rather than toggling with the “All E-mails” view.
  • The current view is now highlighted on the toolbar.
  • The “All Mails” view (now called “All”) is now sorted by Date then by Next Action rather than Priority so that you can see mails grouped by Next Actions.
  • You are now able to drag and drop groups of mails from one date to another in the “All” mails view.  (use Shift or Ctrl depending on whether they are situated together or separated, respectively) – making it easier to have snow at the end of each day!
  • A “Snow” button has been added.  With just two clicks you can send your “Snow” print-screens to Atrendia during the course of the training or whenever you like in order to receive feedback. (2010 only)
  • A “Rapid Response” button has been added allowing you choose from a drop-down list of responses in order to cut down on time spent typing and re-typing common mails. (2010 only)
  • A “Send with Category” button has been added allowing you to assign and automatically send a mail with one or more categories.
  • Probably the most significant improvement is the fact that we have built in a work flow so that once you have prioritized your mails in the “Prioritize” view, you are transported automatically to the “Plan” view. Once you have answered or planned your mails you are transported to the “Today” view.
  • Post-it notes no longer require Next Actions; instead, the subject line is duplicated automatically in the Next Action column.
  • Tip text has been added to the buttons in order to remind you about how to use each function. (2010 only)
  • There have also been a number of small bug fixes regarding categories.

 

For licensed users only, please click on this link to download the LeanMail Add-in for 2010.

For licensed users only, please click on this link to download the LeanMail Add-in for 2007.

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