When I turned 21 years old, a gift from my Grandma B arrived -- my first gray hairs! I have inherited my grandmother’s hair, and I look forward to having her beautiful white, thick hair one day FAR in the future, but the gray hair coming in right now (and back then) is dull, dry, and a very dreary color. So, until then, I color my hair to cover the gray. I started small -- my husband would pull my hair through the cap and highlight strands of hair to make the gray blend in. Mind you, I worked to make sure that we did NOT have a recent disagreement and that I treated him nicely before our hair coloring experiences because depending on his mood, he could totally take out any frustrations with me as he pulled my hair “gently” through those tiny holes in the cap. As the years went by and more gray appeared, I moved to the professionals and now work with wonderful hair stylists to color my hair. Some years we highlight or lowlight or both. Other years we go for full color coverage. Some hair visits take one hour; others take 3 hours. No matter the process or the length of visit, I always look super great during the process -- NOT! But the effort is worth the results - my gray hair is covered, and my natural dull brown hair color is now a lighter more vibrant shade, sometimes with golden highlights. And thanks to good vitamins and Grandma B’s hair genes, my hair still grows and grows and grows, so every 3 weeks, I head back to the salon. Every. Three. Weeks. If I try to go longer or miss an appointment, my gray roots give it away. So I schedule that hair appointment every - three - weeks. I work around my schedule and my hair stylist’s schedule; I work around holidays; I work around anything that might keep me from coloring my hair.
Well, guess what? I believe that we should schedule communication “clean ups” just like I schedule my hair appointments. Just like coloring my hair every three weeks keeps my unsightly gray roots from showing, you may need to schedule some time to work on communication issues that could become unsightly (literally and figuratively) as well. So I encourage you to schedule some time to address the following communication issues.
Emails - I know, I know -- another email-fixing idea may seem like I am repeating myself (see last week’s blog), but today I am encouraging you to schedule time to clean up your emails. My toes hurt right now as this advice stomps on them, and although at times I am forced to clean up my emails because of storage limits, I am so much more organized when I schedule time each week to review and organize my emails. Many times after I review a saved email, I either complete the task, respond in some way, or move the email to a designated folder for future reference. Other times, I find that the email can be deleted as the issue is being addressed face-to-face or is no longer my responsibility. And to be honest, sometimes I run across an email that I can’t really remember why I saved it in the first place. Scheduling time each week or day or month to organize your emails can save you time and effort and storage space.
Notes - Again, my toes are really hurting right now! I have legal pads, spiral notebooks, and even sticky notepads with lots and lots of notes from phone calls, meetings, and research. I wish that I organized those notes immediately following the experience, but most times I just flip to the next clean page for the next set of notes. So one of my legal notepads contains notes from a business call with my partner Karen followed by research notes about employee productivity statistics followed by my to-do list of emails -- all on the same notepad. Trying to later locate information can be time-consuming as I look through notepad after notepad to find the needed details. As of January (one of my New Year’s resolutions), I now rip out the page with notes and use an organizational strategy for easy access in the future. Many times, I create a file for the notes; other times I add the information to my calendar or a document; sometimes I compile notes from multiple pages to later share with others. And just like my emails, I schedule time each week to organize my notes. I again save time and effort (it can take a LONG time to go through all of my notepads), but more importantly, by organizing my notes, I avoid missing important details and tasks.
My next hair appointment is this Thursday, and my gray roots are just beginning to let me (and anyone else who looks closely) that coloring time is near. My next scheduled email and notes clean-up is this Friday (I love going into the weekend organized). etc Strategies believes that scheduling time to organize your emails and notes will help you become more organized, more productive, and less stressed. So go ahead -- schedule these communication clean-up tasks. And don’t forget your hair appointment too!