A tool to get us out of this mess.

I have tools I’ve built to assist me in being efficient in following up at work. A spreadsheet that I built programmatically to allowing checking boxes and then automatically building an email template from those, then I add any non-routine stuff and customization and send it off.

When I find myself running behind on customer follow-ups for long periods of time due to too many customers to follow up with, and too many new items I haven’t dealt with before, I find myself needing to take a deep breath, and instead of getting so trapped in the idea of “having to get caught up,” I start to ask, “How can I make my tool better to get me out of this situation?”

Generally, when I think about it that way, I start to realize I’m being asked many new, but similar questions, and thinking through standard responses and information to send over about those questions and integrating that into my toolset allows me to respond faster. It feels counterintuitive, that my focus should be on getting caught up first, then building the tool to prevent it in the future, but without the right tools get caught up is a pipe dream.

It’s the old, “If I had 8 hours to chop down a tree, I’d spend six sharpening my axe.” It might be dated advice, but it’s still worth revisiting.

Huge thanks to the momentary slump of the last couple of weeks that reminded me of this. Without you, there would be no blog post today.