The Power of the Pen
I’ve been so inspired by reading the posts about lessons people have learned after 5 years in business, advice to give recent graduates, and the tools that people use to help them get ahead that I’ve decided to share my secret to success in hopes of being lumped together with those mentors. #goals
Hold on to your seats; here is my secret tool that helps me keep my business together:
Pen & paper
Scary huh? But here is where pen and paper for outweigh any other device or tool or app out there. A pen, paper, and writing things down force me to focus on my face to face interaction with clients and I can personalize my business so that I stand out from the crowd of other organizers.
Many clients I work with complain of feeling overwhelmed not only by all of the activities they have going on and stuff in their homes but also by all of the technology expectations.
“How often should I check social media?”
“Are you an active user of Facebook/Instagram/Pinterest?”
And here is the communication conundrum that affects everyone: “Should I text or call or email you to follow up?”
It almost makes me nostalgic for fax machines. 🙂 Unfortunately, this complicates my business more than I’d like to admit. There are so many technology and communication options out there and I’ve said it a thousand times if I’ve said it once:
more choices = more anxiety
When you reduce the number of choices and decisions that you have to make everyday, you make your life easier and less stressful. Even simple decisions become magnified the more you have to make. You know how to write and don’t need to wait for an upgrade to process to write those notes, ideas, or agenda items.
Writing is active, visual listening
Sometimes I find that choosing the less technologically advanced solution actually makes my life easier. I handwrite notes during client meetings. Writing the specifics of their needs from their goals, budget numbers, product selections, and measurements helps me remember better than any app could provide. Writing is visual listening. I constantly doodle notes, drawings, and use my own shorthand to keep track of what needs to happen in their space to bring order. I have a written chronology of a meeting that makes it easier for me to do my work of designing their organization system when they aren’t there.
The act of writing things down helps you remember things more efficiently that typing or tapping the information in a device. You’ve got the muscle memory of writing, the visual picture created in your head of you writing, plus brain has recorded the action of writing, and your brain processing and translating what you hear to the motor skills of writing it. Pretty cool for technology that was invented in 100 BC in China (paper) and in 1888 (roller ball pen).
This is why I always tell overwhelmed clients to make To Do lists: 90% of the time you’ll remember what’s on the list without having to look at it again.
The same applies to my calendar. I use a paper calendar because I like the visual aspect of seeing my week laid out in a vertical format starting with Sunday. I remember putting the appointment on my calendar because I wrote it down. Granted, I still have to put it on my electronic calendar to share it with team members but from a time management perspective, I’ve got a better handle on my appointments because I’ve literally touched each one when I wrote it down.
Plus I’ve freed up effort in my brain to do other things than remember an appointment or the details of a meeting because I know you’ve got it written down somewhere.
Thank you notes
I write thank you notes to clients after completing a project. While I never want to contribute to the clutter on someone’s desk, especially if we just cleared it off, there is nothing that shows appreciation better than a personal thank you note. I use stationery in my signature colors of navy and fuchsia, keep it short, and send it quickly after the project is done.
My business is very personal and I get the majority of new clients from existing client referrals. Individual thank you notes are just one more way I can connect with that person and show them how much I enjoyed helping them enjoy their home more. Is there a better way to show you appreciate someone’s business in this day of disconnect than with a handwritten note?
In this age of overwhelm it’s essential to find ways to connect with people instead of technology. People buy from people and support businesses owned by people they know, like, and trust. I’d love to hear how you connect with your clients and personalize your interactions with them.