As a business owner, you know that the mythical “work/life balance” is just that: a myth. Being able to keep “work at work” and “home at home” isn’t all that realistic when you’re the one in charge of things like financial decisions and creative direction.
Similarly, we business owners know that a hiatus is almost never a full-on hiatus. Whether you’re going on a much-needed vacation, taking maternity or paternity leave, or tending to unexpected emergencies, you will most likely need to check on your business at one point or another. Luckily, good ole technology allows us to take care of work and life without messing up our tropical drinks or interrupting family time for too long.
With a few taps and clicks, certain apps and programs will allow you to get messages to your team or clients with minimal time and effort, so that you can get back to the “life” portion of this equation. So, without further ado, here’s a quick list of my favorite communication tools to help you stay in touch while you’re on a hiatus.
The world of project management tools is wide, but the benefits of using them are far more vast. Project management programs create a virtual command center that allows you to oversee projects and the progress being made by those doing the work. They allow you to share files and communicate with your team about them, and even let you manage project deadlines.
Like I mentioned above, the options for these tools are plentiful, so it’s a good idea to do your research. My personal favorite is Trello, because of its user-friendly, sticky note-like experience. Basecamp is another popular option, and is more linear and list-based, and Asana provides an even larger, more comprehensive experience than the others.
Whichever project management route you take, I think you’ll be happy with the level of control you have, even when you’re miles away from the action.
Google Docs is one of those programs that seems run-of-the-mill, but is actually a communication powerhouse. Docs allow you to share, edit, and discuss documents with multiple people, anywhere in the world, for free. Working on a new website and need approval for copy? Sending out a press release and need a little more input? All you need to do is create a Google Doc, share it with your team members, and let the collaboration begin.
Sometimes you need another set of eyes to look at what you’re looking at in order to get things rolling or working properly. I like to use Jing, an app that makes sharing screenshots and videos as easy as a few clicks, to show clients and other collaborators what’s going on on my screen.
Projects aren’t always easy to discuss via email or message, especially when you’re trying to communicate about creative endeavors. When all else fails, sometimes you’ve just got to get some face-to-face interaction with your team or clients. In this case, platforms like Skype, FaceTime, and Google Hangouts let you express your ideas or concerns in real-time.
In addition to helping you make video calls, Skype is a great, free option for screen sharing. This will allow you to share, in real-time, what you’re seeing and doing on your screen. This makes collaboration and troubleshooting easy and streamlined.
We’re living in an incredible age of communication, which can have its pros and cons. On one hand, the benefits of communication technology have revolutionized and empowered small business owners. This allows us to easily talk to the people who matter most. On the other hand, the burden of constant availability can wear down after a few nights of late-night emergency emails. So it’s important to set boundaries when it comes to responding to your customers’ needs.
The tools I’ve mentioned above will help you find a happy medium between “available” and “unreachable.”