Why You Should Return Calls


Charles McCrumb Small Business IT Project Analyst, Office Automation Expert Herbert, McCrumb & Associates

Charles McCrumb
Small Business IT Project Analyst, Office Automation Expert
Herbert, McCrumb & Associates

Hi folks, here’s another post, with my snark in red of course.

There are several great reasons to return calls, versus always answering the phone:

  • Unless your specific job is to answer the phone, you’ve got other things to do.
  • Returning calls allows you to formulate an opinion about what the person left a message about (Next post, why you should leave detailed messages).
  • Returning calls allows you to do homework on the issue the person left a message about.
  • Answering the phone, and having to tell the person a lie or exaggeration to get them off your back until you have a real answer is grossly inefficient, not helpful, and doesn’t inspire trust.
  • Unless the caller is delusional, no one expects you to always be sitting at your desk, or walking around with your cellphone in your hand, waiting for their call. If you are doing phone support however, you will be calling that person back with an appropriate answer fairly quickly.
  • Most calls are not THAT important.

You should return calls in batches. Leverage your time effectively!

For example, If you start work at 7:30 AM, you should have a short meeting with your boss fairly soon in the morning (7:40 AM) to discuss objectives (hopefully it’s a short meeting, you have things to do). After that meeting, check phone messages, do homework and return calls. Next process email (no more than 30 minutes). (I KNOW you have lots, Mark S., Ken H., and Bob B.! Get better at deciphering what’s important, what’s less important, and what’s absolute B.S.).

Your phone will ring. Do you answer it? Do you ignore it? Can you turn the ringer down?

Read this next part twice and show it to your boss, IT’S REALLY IMPORTANT:

Every interruption from your definite purpose puts you a little more behind. Many things that are “urgent” are only important to another person or department from THEIR bad planning. They almost always have NOTHING to do with what YOU need to be doing. There are exceptions, of course, but for the most part, DO WHAT YOU NEED TO BE DOING!

If you have an on-site boss, you may be redirected to the unimportant-to-your-established-goals-items, but let HIM or HER direct that bad planning. Eventually, he or she may deliver some push-back to the (bad-planning) department and get you some relief. Or he or she may be FIRED for their complicity in bad-planning (hope springs eternal…).

Okay, back to the scheduled example:

7:50 AM Check messages, do homework if necessary, return calls.
10 AM Check messages, do homework if necessary, return calls.
1 PM, Check messages, do homework if necessary, return calls.
4 PM, Check messages, do homework if necessary, return calls.

In general, it’s much more effective to do tasks in batches, whether they be returning calls, making calls, processing email, or whatever it is you are supposed to be doing. If you are doing sales, you’ll need to return calls maybe twice as frequently, and not answering all the time.

That’s enough for now.

Think about it, pass it around and comment if you like.

Cheers! 😎

Charles McCrumb
Small Business IT Project Analyst, Office Automation Expert
Herbert, McCrumb & Associates
We can make ANY business work BETTER!
Small Business IT Projects  |  Office Automation  |  Human Behaviors
Visit us at http://www.hm-associates.com
Like us on Facebook for instant updates on what Herbert, McCrumb & Associates is doing, how we’re doing it, and how we’re saving real people time and money!
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email: charles@hm-associates.com
Skype: charles.mccrumb
Bus: (626) 593-6700

Weekly-Biweekly Workflow


Charles McCrumb Office Automation Expert Herbert, McCrumb & Associates

Charles McCrumb
Small Business IT Project Analyst, Office Automation Expert
Herbert, McCrumb & Associates

In a recent post, Seth Godin wrote “Double and half (freelancer math)” essentially what freelancers need to be doing with half of their time is getting better at what they do.

If half your time is spent getting better at what you do (and I believe you should spend it that way), that other half of your time needs to be spent actually working on projects, and introducing yourself to people. I think you should instead of daily working on ALL of these things (and making yourself crazy in the process), you should do these things weekly in order to develop a weekly-biweekly workflow. Here’s what I mean:

[Sample weekly-biweekly schedule]
Spend Monday introducing yourself to prospective clients, when you get home or back to your office, send a thank you email to the people that you made connections with and communicate with your network. Tuesday, develop some systems. FOCUS EXCLUSIVELY on systems or homework. Wednesday meet more people, and thank them, communicate. Thursday develop systems. Friday meet more people, and thank them, communicate.

Weekends, spend time with your family!

The next week, reverse the schedule:
Monday develop systems; Tuesday meet people, communicate; Wednesday develop systems, Thursday meet people, communicate; Friday develop systems.

That’s a nice weekly-biweekly flow where you won’t feel too rushed, but will get some things accomplished. Over 2 weeks, you spent 5 days developing systems, and 5 days meeting people and communicating. Of course, a project or projects will mess with this schedule a bit.

If you are working for someone else, (not freelancing, or consulting) ask your boss if you can try something similar, by grouping some of your tasks into day-long efforts. Show her this post if you like. There really is no such thing as multitasking. It’s fractional-tasking at best, and the more you do it, the more scatterbrained and worse you get at it. Working all day at a work function (or similar work functions) can REALLY break loose a clogged workflow!

Cheers! 😎

Charles McCrumb
Small Business IT Project Analyst, Office Automation Expert
Herbert, McCrumb & Associates
We can make ANY business work BETTER!
Small Business IT Projects | Office Automation | Human Behaviors
Visit us at http://www.hm-associates.com
Like us on Facebook for instant updates on what Herbert, McCrumb & Associates is doing, how we’re doing it, and how we’re saving real people time and money!
http://www.facebook.com/HerbertMcCrumbAssociates
email: charles@hm-associates.com
Skype: charles.mccrumb
Bus: (626) 593-6700

Two Out of Three is Fine


First the link: Neil Gaiman 2012 Commencement 14:18

“But people keep working in a freelance work, and more and more of today’s world is freelance because their work is good and because they’re easy to get along with and because they deliver the work on time… and you don’t even need all three. Two out of three is fine.”

Isn’t this INTERESTING?
Let’s run the metric here:

  • Your work doesn’t need to be that good if you deliver on time, and you are easy to get along with.
  • Your work doesn’t need to be on time if it’s good and you are easy to get along with.
  • You can be a bit of a jerk if your work is good, and you deliver on time.

Apparently there are plenty of jerks in the world (I don’t know any), and people are just happy to be working with the nice ones.

Cheers!

Charles McCrumb, Office Automation Expert
Herbert, McCrumb & Associates
We can make ANY business work better!
Visit us at http://www.hm-associates.com

Like us on Facebook for instant updates on what Herbert, McCrumb & Associates is doing, how we’re doing it, and how we’re saving real people time and money!
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email: charles
Skype: charles.mccrumb
Bus: (626) 593-6700

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Semi-Automatic vs Fully-Automatic: Part 2


Today I’m going to write some more about Office Automation, but specifically Microsoft Excel native capabilities and VBA (Visual Basic for Applications [recorded macros,
and hand-written code]) vs. the fully automatic Excel application. The differences are HUGE and can be life-altering (especially if something goes wrong)!

First of all, Microsoft Excel is INCREDIBLY POWERFUL using native capability, without using a single macro. I am a BIG believer in using Excel to it’s fullest for whatever task you need BEFORE even using your first macro (or other VBA code). In my opinion, VBA should ONLY be applied when you have no other option. You should always, Always, ALWAYS put in copious notes, describing what you are having EACH CHUNK OF CODE do, semi-auto model AND fully automatic.

First, what’s wrong? (I’ll put the comments in GREEN, same as in the VBA project explorer)

Sheets(“MAIN”).Activate

‘PLA PD Dollars
Cells(12, 4) = PD_Dollars(1, 1)
Cells(12, 5) = PD_Dollars(1, 2)
‘ Cells(12, 7) = PD_Dollars(1, 0)
‘PLA PD Lines
Cells(13, 4) = PD_lines(1, 1)
Cells(13, 5) = PD_lines(1, 2)
‘ Cells(13, 7) = PD_lines(1, 0)
‘PLA Dollars Missed
Cells(14, 4) = PD_Dollars(1, 4)
Cells(14, 5) = PD_Dollars(1, 5)
‘ Cells(14, 7) = PD_Dollars(1, 3)
‘PLA Lines Missed
Cells(15, 4) = PD_lines(1, 4)
Cells(15, 5) = PD_lines(1, 5)
‘ Cells(15, 7) = PD_lines(1, 3)
‘PLA BUDCO Lines Missed
Cells(16, 4) = PD_lines(2, 4)
Cells(16, 5) = PD_lines(2, 5)
‘ Cells(16, 7) = PD_lines(2, 3)

‘CUC PD Dollars
Cells(18, 4) = PD_Dollars(3, 1)
Cells(18, 5) = PD_Dollars(3, 2)
‘ Cells(18, 7) = PD_Dollars(3, 0)
‘CUC PD Lines
Cells(19, 4) = PD_lines(3, 1)
Cells(19, 5) = PD_lines(3, 2)
‘ Cells(19, 7) = PD_lines(3, 0)
‘CUC Lines Missed
Cells(20, 4) = PD_Dollars(3, 4)
Cells(20, 5) = PD_Dollars(3, 5)
‘ Cells(20, 7) = PD_Dollars(3, 3)
‘CUC Lines Missed
Cells(21, 4) = PD_lines(3, 4)
Cells(21, 5) = PD_lines(3, 5)
‘ Cells(21, 7) = PD_lines(3, 3)
‘CUC BUDCO Lines Missed
Cells(22, 4) = PD_lines(4, 4)
Cells(22, 5) = PD_lines(4, 5)
‘ Cells(22, 7) = PD_lines(4, 3)

So, did anyone figure out what is wrong with this piece of code? Yes, of course, NO NOTES (or at least pretty useless notes to someone that doesn’t know what CUC and PD is)!

The piece of VBA that this is from is actually VERY elegantly written, and all actions happen in memory, making it very fast. However, you have no idea what cells are being populated. A segment of this code further down shows calculations again, all happening in memory. A nightmare for the inexperienced, and a big tangled ball of string for the experienced coder. I would have preferred that the calculations be visible on a sheet, and make the trade-off of a little bit of speed for the assurance of the calculations and the  transparency of a sheet that you can check. Either way, (Full or Semi-Auto) PUT IN LOTS OF NOTES (preceding each with the accent mark ‘ )!

Another example:

Sub DateSortRoutine()

‘ VB coded by:
‘ Charles A. McCrumb 02/25/2004
‘ActiveWindow.WindowState = xlMinimized
Dim CUM As Currency
‘ Set Cumulative to zero

CUM = 0

‘ Select and sort the Looseners Sheet
Sheets(“looseners”).Select
Selection.Sort Key1:=Range(“P2”), Order1:=xlAscending, Key2:=Range(“B2”) _
, Order2:=xlAscending, Header:=xlGuess, OrderCustom:=1, MatchCase:= _
False, Orientation:=xlTopToBottom
Range(“A1”).Select
Sheets(“looseners”).Select
Selection.Subtotal GroupBy:=16, Function:=xlSum, TotalList:=Array(8, 11), _
Replace:=True, PageBreaks:=False, SummaryBelowData:=True

‘ Select and sort the Assemblies Sheet
Sheets(“assemblies”).Select
Selection.Sort Key1:=Range(“P2”), Order1:=xlAscending, Key2:=Range(“B2”) _
, Order2:=xlAscending, Header:=xlGuess, OrderCustom:=1, MatchCase:= _
False, Orientation:=xlTopToBottom
Range(“A1”).Select
Sheets(“assemblies”).Select
Selection.Subtotal GroupBy:=16, Function:=xlSum, TotalList:=Array(8, 11), _
Replace:=True, PageBreaks:=False, SummaryBelowData:=True

‘ Select Looseners Sheet and check for the text string “Total” and make it bold
Sheets(“looseners”).Select
Range(“P1”).Select
Chekker1:
‘Check for blanks, if none keep going, else stop.
While ActiveCell.Range(“A1”) <> “”
GoDown1
While Right(ActiveCell.Range(“A1”), 5) = “Total”
ActiveCell.Offset(0, -5).Select
Selection.Font.Bold = True
ActiveCell.Offset(0, -3).Select
Selection.Font.Bold = True
ActiveCell.Offset(0, 8).Select
GoTo Chekker1
Wend
Wend

See what happened? Notes, showing just what is going on!

Even in the fully automatic model, notes will keep you and everyone else from going crazy. They will also help you establish trust between me and you, and yourself and others.

Cheers!

Charles McCrumb, Office Automation Expert
Herbert, McCrumb & Associates
We can make ANY business work better!
Visit us at http://www.hm-associates.com
Like us on Facebook for instant updates on what Herbert, McCrumb & Associates is doing, how we’re doing it, and how we’re saving real people time and money!
http://www.facebook.com/HerbertMcCrumbAssociates
email: charles@hm-associates.com
Skype: charles.mccrumb
Bus: (626) 593-6700