Professionals in the customer support field or contributors in the user community are challenged daily to handle people’s problems. Covering so many tickets or forum threads with a variety of topics can make one overwhelmed. Think you need to force your eyes open all day and night to get more tasks done? I wouldn’t do that.
Here are things that I do to improve my daily workflow:
1. Create a to-do list
In the morning, before I start any work, I would create a to-do list containing things that I will do specifically that day. Or sometimes I do this the night before. That way, I’d be able to decide that one act is more urgent or more important than the other one. So I can set my priority and work the tasks according to that. I’d tackle the most challenging task first thing in the morning so I can give it my full attention.
This also helps me to think that all tasks are doable. Without writing a to-do list, my mind can be easily burnt out with seemingly too much work which never finished.
2. Snooze emails and social media
This one is very crucial. Handling so many issues on an ongoing basis require me to focus. I don’t need distractions from the Instagram notification that says a friend commented on my photo. Or notifications from WhatsApp group where dozens of people are chatting about a K-Pop band latest gossip (how do I even joined this group in the first place?! hmm…).
Gmail has a snooze feature that can be activated on selected emails. And every social media I’m using have one too. I can’t snooze my phone though because there could be an emergency call that I don’t want to miss. Besides, very rarely people using phones these days, except for urgent calls.
3. Use productivity tools
I wrote in another article that Microsoft OneNote is my daily life savior. The app is multi-function and helps me big time as a daily planner and also as a place to access all of my canned responses for supporting users in help forums.
In the course that I’m joining in which held by Automattic and Support Driven, the instructor recommends some productivity apps, one of which is Wox. To bring up this program, you can simply use Alt-Space shortcut, then you can start typing right away to find files on the local system or run web searches instead. The good thing is you will start receiving results as you type. It’s super fast.
Another recommended app that I’ve checked out is Phrase Express. This is a text expander app that automates entering commonly used phrases. When answering users’ questions, you will across some commonly typed pieces of text that you have to type multiple times a day. In these situations, Phrase Express will help you quickly fill in rather than you typing in the stuff manually each and every time. This app is very handy.
Workflow is understanding your job, understanding your tools, and then not thinking about it any more.— Merlin Mann
4. Keep communicating with your fellow team
If there’s one thing that would make me survive in the user support field is to remember that I’m not alone. I have an awesome team that ready to back me up. Despite my best efforts in helping users, sometimes people just still aren’t happy. And sometimes it can be hard to keep my cool with some users, especially when they are super frustrated.
In these situations, I would communicate with my team, discussing this user issue. Ask for second opinion or perhaps ideas or workaround that can be shared with this user. Even when my fellow team also run out of ideas, I still get the benefit of communicating with them. I’m usually getting more relaxed, especially when someone makes a joke that makes me laugh, then it will remind me that it’s not the end of the world.
And benefits for my fellow team is that they would aware of the issue that is going on. Perhaps in the future, there will be a similar issue. Sharing updates on outstanding issues will make the team always knowledgeable about what is happening.
5. Take breaks, recharge your energy
Many research shows that taking regular breaks will improve your workflow. It will increase alertness, and the ability to focus on prolonged tasks. Since I work from home, I’d take short breaks by making a cup of coffee or cooking some simple meal. Other people might like to take a 10-minute walk or stretching, or taking naps or perhaps practice meditation.
Besides drinking coffee and cooking, I spend my break time singing. Yup. Singing one or two favorite songs keeps me in a good mood. I’m using Smule app to do karaoke, and then the app will create a recording of my voice. I know not everyone into music, but the point is, I’d do whatever makes me happy during breaks. It will indeed refresh my mind and recharge my energy.