In the 1990s, the anthropologist Robert Dunbar first proposed that the ideal social group was no larger than 150 people. The reason is, interestingly enough, directly related to the size of our neocortex, the area that is also concerned with sight and hearing. With so much information coming in, our brains are physically incapable of developing stable social connections with more than 150 people at a time.
Think of the small bands of hunter-gatherers that once made up the entirety of the human population. Work mostly involved simply ensuring there was adequate food, water, and shelter. Now think of today. I maintain dozens of conversations at a time with probably right at, if not over, the max of my maximum social size—and that is just at work. I have hundreds of links and documents that I interact with weekly that I cannot memorize. I have deadline after deadline, from meetings and appointments to production cycles to keep track of. And I have so many collaborative moments with individuals or groups that I can’t possibly keep them all clear and separated.
The point is, our limited biological framework requires tools be built in order to adapt to how we work, in the same way that we must wear a jacket when its cold or build a roof in order to stay dry. And since the first computer made its way into offices, we have been trying to build tools that help us do our jobs better and better—help us adapt to the world we live in.
This leads us to the RingCentral App. Here are five ways you can use the app to support your natural abilities and bring out the most of your daily work activities and team.
1) Organize your social world of work.
We have so many tools that help us organize our social worlds. But the social world of work can be unfortunately ignored. At times, the RingCentral App feels like a social media site. I connect with my work team on the job, sometimes sharing the occasional cat video or vacation photo. But more than not, the conversation is about work, where sharing ideas and project documents is a core part of my day. With the RingCentral App, I can make these conversations private, restricting a group to just those who need to join. I can pass shared assets onto another contact easily, without creating a new email. It just becomes a part of our conversation and point of collaboration.
I often email the same group of people, or follow up after a meeting with the same team. With Groups and Teams, these stay organized, allowing for quick access without frustratingly backtracking through layers and layers of emails to find that one link or comment. (More on email productivity tips here.) It’s all there in one searchable stream, with all documents and links easily found to the right of the messages. Your social world of work is organized, by default.
2) Make your work life searchable and easily organized.
There is a reason that Google is the top visited site on the internet. These days we think in search. Search is the means by which we find nearly everything. But with work it wasn’t so easy in the past. Search was an afterthought, relegated to simply single-use applications.
When did you receive that one document and who sent it? What did we decide to move forward on last month? Where did the budget last leave off? The RingCentral App is made for that. Instead of looking around, you can search everything from notes to teams to individual conversations. Suddenly your work life can be searched and found when you need it, saving time and effort.
3) Create living notes, skip the presentation deck.
Presentation software is designed to help organize ideas into pages, like what you would find in a book or paper. For years we have learned the language of presentation, categorizing and organizing ideas into the simplest and easiest format.
It’s time to consider relearning presentations, but this time with collaboration in mind. In the RingCentral App, you can create notes that are shared and can include comments and even edits from anyone invited to do so. This is, of course, handy when creating a press release or project list, but why not for the kinds of things previously restricted to only PowerPoint or Keynote?
But how would this work? Think of a blank canvas. Think of all you could put on it. But think about the canvas as not being so limited in length. It just keeps going and you create separations when they fit. Essentially, you are not so limited by the software. You are limited by what you need to put on the page. Create tables, embed images and videos, save drafts, and invite comments. Suddenly the PPT you’ve been passing around and struggling to control from a versioning perspective becomes a living document that continues to update as you need to, shared with those whom you would like, and is able to be tracked for version control without fancy naming conventions.
4) Separate the junk from the critical message.
I think it took six months for the junk mail to start rolling into my inbox after starting a new job. Now it is a daily annoyance. Even with filters and sorting, it is a growing pile of topics loosely connected to my job or company. And every day I sort, trash, or just try to ignore. The worst part is when I return from PTO to see an enormous inbox waiting for me only to spend 30+ minutes simply going through junk.
The real problem here is when messages are missed due to the junk getting in the way. With the RingCentral App, that’s not going to happen. You aren’t going to get messages that aren’t work related—or should I say, aren’t related to those you work with. No sorting or sifting. No filters.
5) Stay connected when you need to.
In today’s world of work, staying connected after hours is often a requirement. But we can’t always stay fully immersed, we can only dip in a toe. Sometimes we must disconnect completely for our own sanity or to finally take a break after a busy week. That’s why it’s important to have the option of being on and off easily and quickly.
See if you have experienced this: Sometimes at night I’ll go online just to respond to a Facebook message or email. Next thing I know, I have emerged from 60+ minutes of reading articles or scanning social media sites. It’s like a time warp. And in that moment, my precious free time has just disappeared. Gone.
I use the RingCentral mobile app (iOS and Android) for exactly this reason. I can easily respond or check in without opening a computer, setting my self up with the potential for a pile of distractions to come on me. I can get on and off without the potential to eat up my time. It helps me stay singularly focused. Having a stand-alone application like RingCentral helps me stay focused, whether it’s on the project at hand at work or in trying to get back to the things I want to do outside of work. And when I need to work after hours, I can get in and out without an issue.
Have you tried using the RingCentral App? Has it helped your team boost productivity? Share your feedback with us in the comments below!
Originally published Sep 04, 2015, updated Jan 30, 2023