We all struggle to find ways to get more done on a daily basis. Doing business is complicated and demanding and we seem to be trying to pack more tasks into every day. But rather than feeling like we are getting more done, we seem to be working longer days to fit it all in. It's hard to feel productive sometimes.

I was the same, feeling overextended, until I discovered a very powerful way to tilt things back in my favour.

Some time back I had a project where I had to give feedback to fifty people taking part in an entrepreneurial program. The task was daunting and likely to take me an entire week to complete. So instead of writing the individual reports I decided to record them--and then thought it might work for email too.

Productivity Tip: Record Your Messages

Using a cheap headphone plugged into my computer and a simple recording app, I recorded between five and ten minutes of personal feedback for each person. This enabled me to complete the feedback project in two days as opposed to five. Shortly after sending out the feedback, I started to receive emails from the entrepreneurs sharing just how much they loved getting the recorded reports. They really liked that it was so personal, the depth of the feedback I shared, the ability to be able to have complex ideas explained in detail and the fact that they could listen to it, as they needed, whilst driving or exercising.

I was a little surprised by this. Initially I did it to save me time but I soon saw just how beneficial it was to the students. Then it dawned on me that I could use this technique in a few other areas of my business life that were causing me grief.

Like most people, I had a pile of special emails that I needed to respond to, but they were all a little complicated or requiring lengthy replies. I kept putting them off until I could find the time to respond accordingly, but it just wasn’t happening. Taking my new approach, I started early the next morning and managed to record twenty complicated messages in about two hours.

Now this felt like the single most productive day I had ever had. It was barely 9am and I had achieved more in two hours than it felt like I had done in the previous week. And once I started to get responses to my emails, from my clients, staff members, suppliers and potential customers, all saying how refreshing it was to receive a message in this format, I was hooked.

Now I don’t record every message, but I do record those messages that require longer responses than an average email, or those that need a more personal feel or those conversations that are complicated or difficult for some reason.

This in turn means that I don’t look through my email, mentally classifying them as “too hard to answer now”, I simply group the tough ones, or the ones needing more explanation, then I sit down and knock them all over in an hour. And best of all, now I get to go home with an empty inbox, which is one of the sweetest feelings.

When I am asked about the benefits of recording letters, emails and messages (and I am asked this often) my response is:

  • You can say much more in a shorter amount of time, a 3 to 4 minute recorded message can be the equivalent of a couple of pages of written text.
  • There are fewer miscommunications regarding the tone of the message.
  • It is much more engaging and personal for the person receiving the communication.
  • It is a great way to stand out from others and to be memorable.
  • You can record responses from any device, from any location. This means sitting in a park, answering emails by recording messages can now be an enjoyable process as opposed to a dread chore.
  • You get to clear your inbox of the “complicated” messages needing a response.

This could be one of the best productivity tools around. It certainly has saved me many hours each week and made difficult conversations much easier.