Time Sucks, A Yucky Interface And Other Business Conundrums

Time Sucks, A Yucky Interface And Other Business Conundrums

Please Welcome Our Favorite Brit!

No, it’s not Ian Anderson Gray though he comes in at a close second. It’s Helen Gray, the other half of the amazing Gray team and she joins the Web.Search.Social family as the official voice of our intro.

She’ll now be reading the episode number and has already recorded a bunch for us so we can record and shuffle the release dates without worrying that the episode number is stuck in the live recording.

She’ll also be introducing the Seriously Social Moment and has given us a couple of hilarious bonuses that we’ll throw in somewhere unexpectedly.

Thanks, Helen!

The Delightful Beatrix Potter Tea

We’re featuring a brand new Simpson & Vail tea this month! It’s safe to say we’ve become somewhat of tea snobs. No more bagged junk for us. And we’ve certainly had our pick of the good stuff thanks to our friends over at Simpson & Vail.

This month it’s the Beatrix Potter blend which is an amazing herbal blend of rooibos, chamomile, rosehips, spearmint and lemongrass. Want to guess why we’re featuring this tea? Other than the obvious (it’s delicious).

Because Easter is coming up! And Beatrix Potter, famous for her children’s stories, wrote The Tale of Peter Rabbit. Bunnies… Easter… just seemed to fit.

This is a refreshing treat so try a tin from svtea.com.

PS: Their tins are beautiful. We’ve got a bunch of samples in bags and we’re slowly replacing them with SV tins because the only thing better than tea is beautiful tea!

Your Time Is Being Wasted For You

Today we piggyback a bit on our conversation from two weeks ago about automated emails, but not from the standpoint of how to get them right or wrong. We’re looking at them (and other things) as time-sucks.

The problem isn’t the automated email. It’s the automated email and the automated email and the automated email… and the follow up automated email. It’s the unsolicited email. And the spam email.

And even the spam comments and phone calls and things that force you to pay attention to something other than running your business and making money.

When you get an email, even if it’s spam or unsolicited, you have to do something with it. Even if it’s a few seconds to open, determine it’s useless and delete it, that can add up to a whole lot of seconds in a day.

Ralph got – yet another! – unsolicited email from a company, this one asking him to recommend developers who are looking for a job to their staffing agency. Ralph had a pretty good interpretation of this email: “Stop what you’re doing and do this thing for me for free instead.”

Basically, that guy (or girl? Nobody knows, it wasn’t signed.) asked Ralph to do his (or her) homework.

We suspect that email was spam but spam or not, it still required Ralph to stop what he was doing, process the contents of that email and then choose what to do with it.

Our friend Cyndi Harron of Simpson & Vail fame forwarded a couple of emails she received to help prove the point. Someone essentially sent her a “buy my stuff” email – unsolicited of course – and then followed that up with a “did you read my email?” email followed by a “can you connect me with someone else who will answer my email?” email followed by a “are you still interested in my product?” email.

STILL interested? How about NEVER interested!

It amused us but think about it – that was four or five emails that she had to stop for. Process. Act on. All for nothing.

How many of those do YOU get in a day?

Mike Brooks Gets Homework

We figure that people send these emails out because they have some success rate. We have no idea what that could possibly be when everyone we’ve ever spoken to is wildly annoyed by this type of solicitation. But if persistent, aggressive emails didn’t work, people would stop sending them, right?

So we get Mike Brooks on the case, who is a fan of automated emails (the good kind) and tell him to find out what those stats are. We also want to know if this kind of thing has a negative impact on a brand.

Get busy, Mike!

Your Seriously Social Moment

What do you think about Snapchat? Ian wants to know! At first he thought it was just for teens, or just the new shiny thing. But then he tried it and fell in love with it. He says for him, it’s about sharing ideas and thoughts, telling a quick story and doing it without being a perfectionist.

On the down side, he says it’s not intuitive and the interface is “kind of yuck.” But if you’d like to give it a shot, it could be fun! You can even connect with Ian with his username iagdotme.

Time Is A Slippery Beast

Even when you’re not dealing with nagging emails and minutia, your day can get derailed by bigger issues.

Recently we had just such an issue. Turns out that a number of recurring credit card transactions that we have set up in Quickbooks decided to stop processing. But we never got an error, never got a “card declined” message, never knew anything at all until one day I realized that some of our clients hadn’t been billed for their services. Some for a few months!

And I like to get paid for the work I do, so I contacted Quickbooks support. And they tried to help me, to no avail, so sent me over to merchant services. And they tried to help me, to no avail, finally deciding there was a technical problem that their team needed to look into.

Two days and many, many hours of support later, the issue remains unresolved and I’ll have to check back with their tech team.

Stuff like this happens, and you can’t plan for it. By Murphy’s Law it always happens when you can least afford to spend time dealing with it, but that’s another story.

Sometimes stuff that derails you is even more unpleasant. A death. A health crisis. Our cat was very sick one day recently and we needed to rush him to the vet. Goodbye deadlines.

The question is: now what?

Dealing With Time Sucks

Start by taking stock of the severity of the situation. Are you in red alert mode? Is it something you need to deal with now and fast? Is it something that requires you personally to fix it?

Depending on your answer to that question you can decide what to do next. With our cat, we had to act immediately. And nobody else could do it for us. With the Quickbooks situation, I could meet my deadline then call customer service afterwards.

In other cases, like when I may be having an issue with a vendor, I may ask Ralph to do it. If you’re tied up but someone else has flexibility in their day, don’t be afraid to delegate.

Keep in mind that when it comes to the big stuff, people understand. Be honest about a crisis and let people know what you need, like more time for a deadline, to reschedule a meeting or something else.

And no, you can’t plan for this stuff, but just knowing that things will happen that you can’t plan for is enough. And when they do, cut yourself some slack. Don’t try to do it all or meet impossible obligations and deadlines. Don’t stay up all night to make it up. That will catch up with you and can make things worse.

And yes, yes, we do it! Sometimes you really have to pull an all nighter. But do your best not to because a fresh mind and a fresh start will help you think a lot more clearly, especially in a crisis situation.

Big crises are no fun but it’s those insidious little daily distractions that can really eat away at your time. All those spammy, unsolicited emails you have to process in a day, all the crap blog comments, all the selly-sell phone calls.

One way or another they’re in your way and even just hitting the delete button costs you. So be mindful of that stuff. Be aware of the tiny paper cuts that can kill your productivity. Make a plan for how you’ll deal with that stuff, like maybe only check your email twice a day and quickly manage anything that lingers. Perhaps instead of deleting, hit the “spam” button so future similar messages won’t cross your path.

Whatever you do, be aware of these monsters so you can keep them from messing with your day.

Links & Resources

Carol Lynn Rivera

Carol Lynn Rivera

Carol Lynn is a content creator and marketer who has been in the business of digital marketing since 1999. Along with her husband and business partner Ralph, she owns and operates both {Web.Search.Social}, a consulting and marketing services business, and Rahvalor Interactive, a web and creative services production studio. On any given day Carol Lynn will wear the hat of project manager, consultant, social media manager and content marketer. Her true passion is writing, whether it’s web content, a blog post, email campaign or social status update. When she's not writing for customers, {Web.Search.Social}, or her own blog, she's planning her early retirement to Barcelona as a famous and wealthy novelist.
Carol Lynn Rivera
Carol Lynn Rivera
  • Please let me know when Mike turns in his homework. I’m dying to know what he uncovers. I can’t believe spammy aggressive emails have any kind of positive effect on someone’s brand. I have a number of brands on my hate roster — people and companies I wouldn’t do business with for all the whiskey in Ireland. Could be due to my astrological sign. Piss me off … and you’re off my list.

    • I’m sure these type of people don’t care about their brand. They just want to sell as much as possible in any way they can. I’m getting very good with the “report spam” button. Not sure it nets me anything but at least I know that messages from that person will never reach my inbox again. They can apologize to my spam bin all they want!

      • I couldn’t function without Sanebox. I don’t even bother with the spam button anymore. I just send things to @blackhole and I never hear from that sender again. Their items go straight to the trash.

      • Talking about the spam bin …

        I never used to check my spam folder until I realized some folks I want to hear from end up there. Don’t ask me how or why. So now I take the time to review all those emails before I hit the lovely delete button. Technology. Pfft!