Pass It On: Some Infectious Productivity Tips

Cold and flu season is here, but web workers have an advantage: if you’re not meeting with people face-to-face, you’re a lot less likely to catch any nasty viruses. But that doesn’t mean you can’t be infectious; passing along useful productivity practices is a great way to spread around greater efficiency.


Email is still the primary means of communication for most remote workers, despite the rise of Twitter and other social networking platforms. It’s also the easiest place to start when it comes to sharing productivity best practices with others.

Start with the subject line. I’m terrible at these, but assuming that people will give your email the attention it’s due automatically is a mistake. The subject line often helps those who receive a ton of email to priortize, so make sure you’re doing your best to help.

Michael Cloutier, CEO of the Canadian Diabetes Association, recommends categorizing your email clearly according to priority right in the subject line. It might not work all of the time, but if people appreciate it, they may return the favor.

If you’re using instant messaging with a distributed team, getting to the point becomes even more important. Too often people become chatty using these services, so establish IM protocol with your team beforehand. Make sure messages are informative, and agree to forgive abruptness for the sake of efficiency.


If you’re going to have a long-term relationship with a client with a regular reporting period, try to establish a legend of commonly-used terms to avoid having to retype them over and over again. You’d be surprised at how much easier it is to type a simple two-character letter/symbol combination versus a complete word or phrase, and how much time you’ll save. If the system works well, clients might use it with other contractors, who’ll then use it with other clients, etc.

Make the reporting process easier by keeping a shared access drive in the cloud between you and the client specifically for reporting files and forms. Once you establish that reports will regularly appear in that shared drive at the same date every reporting period, you’ll save lots of time in terms of preparing email and attaching files.

Business Cards

There are few things we pass around as professionals more than our business cards. And there are few things more annoying than having to manually enter contact data from a stack of cards collected at a trade show or industry conference. But since they see such high circulation, they’re also a great way to pass along some helpful tips.

QR codes are making their way into the daily lives of Americans in a big way after a long successful career in Asia. There are ample reader applications available for all mobile platforms (iOS (s aapl) being my choice). There are also many websites where you can create your own QR codes in very little time and share them with others or print them out for inclusion on your cards and other promotional materials.

QR codes make using business cards to exchange information so much easier, you’ll wonder why you ever did it the other way. But that’s not the only thing that you can spreading around with regard to those little paper rectangles of information.

Doing something more useful with all that white space may not be the best idea from a graphic design perspective, but it could go over great with contacts who don’t have time to read over your full resumé. A mini-resumé business card is a great way to do the most with very little, and to save your contacts time and effort hunting down your key skills and experience.

Good Ideas Travel

Every time you interact with someone, you have the opportunity to impress them. These tips will help you work faster, easier and better, and could help knock the socks off of the people you network with, too. And, if you’re really lucky, other people will also start using these ideas, which will save you even more time and money in the end.

What productivity tips would you like to pass around? Share them below!

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