Managing Emails and Video Calls in Your “New Normal”
If you’re having problems achieving a healthy work/home balance or getting work done because of home responsibilities, then think about a system of time management that you can put in place to reduce stress. Most of the time, we’re overwhelmed because we think we have to fix everything at once. Pick something as a starting point, like something you can change with little effort or something that really bothers you.
Managing your emails and video calls could be a good place to start.
Set Email Boundaries
Let people know when you’ll respond to emails. If you say, “I try to respond to email within 24 hours,” then you need to repeat that often to help people understand when you’re checking emails.
Don’t panic if you can’t respond to emails immediately. When it makes sense to, creating an auto-reply message can be helpful. It can say, “I’m not answering emails right now. I’m in a webinar.” People will know you’ve got something going on. Then, you can respond without panicking.
- Clear subject lines get emails opened: For example, if you have a specific request, include it in the subject line (such as, “Need bio today”).
- Write a focused message: A short message is a good message. If you send something longer than a few sentences, then consider putting it in a Word document and adding it as an attachment. This will alert the reader that your message will require more time to read.
- Identify yourself: Be clear about who you are and how you can be contacted. Include an email signature line with your title, phone, email, and website.
- Always assume your email is not private: For example, it’s easy to send an angry email. If you get to that place, then write that email and send it to yourself. This gives you a chance to try reading it from the intended recipient’s perspective, then you can decide if you really need to send that email.
- Be polite, greet, and sign off as appropriate: Be judicious about your use of Reply All, CAPS, underlining, bolding, or emoticons.
Set Video Call Boundaries
Treat your video meetings like regular meetings. When using online platforms like Zoom, it’s easy for people to book back-to-back meetings and forget the need for breaks in between them. If you schedule a full hour for a meeting, keep the actual meeting agenda to 50 minutes so that people have 10 minutes to stretch, go to the restroom, or grab a drink.
- Don’t multitask: Stay focused and present. Video call participants will be able to tell if you’re distracted, which could ultimately impact meeting outcomes negatively.
- Optimize your video camera presence: Set the video camera to view your face straight on. Avoid backlighting and reduce background stimuli if you can.
- Do a phone conference call instead: For meetings with one or two people, consider using the phone, which can be a richer, more relationship-based medium.
- Admit video fatigue: You’re not the only one feeling tired of being on camera. Turn off your camera. Ask for an alternative, such as a phone call or email.
Setting boundaries can be hard but investing the time to set them up can do a lot to make ourselves feel better.
Thanks to Amanda Shaffer, Shaffer Coaching, LLC, for providing the content that this blog post is based on!