Take a look at most any email you have in your inbox–that is, one that’s actually addressed directly to you–and you’ll see what I mean. Most messages are a mishmash of action items, requests, queries, and information. And most likely, those are the kinds of emails you send to people you work with. Now that kind of conglomeration works–maybe not well, but it works–for email. But not for a social technology tool, like Twoodo.
Twoodo is like Twitter for task management, a tool that lets teams turn conversations into actionable steps. You can create and manage tasks, messages, calendar events and notes from the same place, simply using hashtags. Twoodo is designed so that the amorphous glob of text you receive or send out is parsed out into its component parts, each one in its own post.
Now this is a huge advantage to the recipient. Instead having to pull each item out and process it individually, that processing is done by the sender. If you’re familiar with productivity methods such as GTD, you’re accustomed to doing a lot of processing and organizing. So having your processing done for you may sound like good news. But only if your sender is thinking clearly about what needs to be done, when, and by whom. And face it: how often does that happen?
What’s needed to effectively use Twoodo is clear thinking about task management. As much as you’d like to, you won’t be able to control what people send to you. But you will be able to do a stellar job of making requests which, in itself, is an enormous victory. When your requests are easy to understand, your recipients will have a much simpler time responding to you. Score!
You can start where you are: in your own role, whatever that may be, Here’s how:
- Before you send, think about what you want to get back. If you don’t want to be caught in an endless back and forth about what’s to be done, start by determining what exactly it is you want as an outcome.
- When you make your request, use the right kind of verb. Project verbs are big, chunky, oversized–words like complete, draft, finalize, research, develop. Task verbs are small, succinct, actionable: call, buy, print, take, find. If you need immediate action, choose a task verb.
- Ask yourself what the recipient will need in order to be successful. What information or resources are required? With Twoodo, you can attach files to your request, linking the task and information together in one neat package.
- Consider the true urgency of what you’re requesting. You almost certainly experience other people’s urgency all the time–they are amped up and demanding an immediate response on something that isn’t actually that urgent at all. The reason behind this out-of-whack urgency is simple: anxiety. The anxiety is fueled by lack of trust; people worry that if their request isn’t on fire, it won’t get dealt with. And you may be falling prey to that same logic. Don’t. Instead, be persistent and consistent: practice clarity about when something is truly urgent and when it’s important yet not on fire. Communicate accordingly.
A final note: As an executive productivity coach, one of my persistent worries about social media style communication tools is that workers will experience the digital equivalent of “death by a thousand paper cuts.” What I mean by this is that these tools can be significant sources of distraction and interruption. Managers must seek ways to empower their teams to throttle the inflow from time to time, without penalty. Giving workers a tool that simplifies communication can be a great help but workers also need uninterrupted blocks of time to get their jobs done.
Bio: Tara Rodden Robinson is an executive productivity coach, author, and artist. You can learn more about her by visiting her website: http://tararobinson.