Monday, 29 June 2009

Multi-tasking and the phone

Carol McLachlan puts a great post on Accounting Web about focusing on one task at a time.

I agree 100% that trying to do too many things at once is a recipe for making mistakes.

Carol mentions setting aside "batches of time" to deal with e-mails, texts and phone calls, and otherwise switching those devices off.

As far as e-mails and texts go, I agree. With phone calls, it's a little bit trickier. Accountants have a bad name for hiding in little ivory towers and being inaccessible to their clients.

But I can remember days at work when I'd be right in the middle of working something out, or writing a report, or doing some research, ring ring would go the phone and a cheerful receptionist would say "It's xxx for you, Emily".

And while I talked to xxx, my train of thought was interrupted, and I'd have to go back and start again once I'd got off the phone.

But that same receptionist's voice would, as if by magic, drop 10 degrees if I said "Could you take a message please, I'm in the middle of something".

So I think that one system a practice should have is that all staff, not just the partners, should be able to ask the receptionist not to put any calls through.

BUT - and this is very important - any messages taken should be followed up promptly as soon as possible. Otherwise the clients feel ignored and unvalued which is very bad news.

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