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14-01-2019 by Andrew Parrott
Aim to make technology help to increase your productivity in 2019.
Instead of pledging to give up drinking, go on a diet or join a gym, why not set yourself a realistic target and aim to make technology help to increase your productivity in 2019.
It doesn't even have to cost you any money - just a small investment in time which will save you far more of that time in the long run.
For example, there will be some software you use day in and day out. Take a little bit of time to learn some shortcuts. This may only shave fractions of a second from a task but it all adds up and over a short time you will have saved the time it took to initiate. It can also be addictive so you'll be actively looking for other ways to save a little bit more time.
What about websites you visit / use regularly? Are you using bookmarks to go straight to them or do you search for the site in Google every time like many people do? Browsers can also save passwords for you so as long as no one else has access to your computer this is a great way to save a few seconds each time you visit a site.
These are only simple examples - there are so many other ways that can free up some of your precious time.
Does your current website help you to deal with customer queries or is it just for advertising your business? Perhaps you can add more information to it which will avoid customers phoning in with queries. Or you can invest some money in adding a portal where customers can get details of previous orders, get copy invoices or access documents relating to their accounts.
Although there will be a cost to this, you have to weigh it up against the amount of time that is taken dealing with these sorts of queries. Remember also that this 'saved' time can be put towards other activities like gaining new customers.
The dream of a paperless office is still a long way off for many of us but that doesn't mean you can't work towards it by streamlining current processes.
Think about the tasks you have to do regularly and the information that you need for them. Is that information easy to hand or do you end up wasting time trying to find it or chasing up colleagues? Can it be put on a server somewhere so that anybody can access it at any time?
Have you got the tools you need for the tasks or does your software need upgrading? I recently had to export information from my CRM for my end of year accounts and realised that I could cut out several stages in the process by adding a bit of functionality to the CRM. This meant that it took longer to produce the accounts this time but next time it will all be done at the push of a button!
It is a sign of getting older but I do have to record a lot more things than I used to otherwise they get forgotten. I do this in a simple online database which stores a date and a selection of tags (to help with finding the entry) with the entry. The only problem with this is that you have to break off what you are doing, log in to the database and add the entry. I've now written an extension to the database which means I can email notes straight from Outlook. As I've got Outlook open all the time this saves precious time and also means it is more likely to get done!
If this has got you thinking, the next stage is to take a process that you carry out on a regular basis and list all the stages and actions that need to be completed.
How is the stage completed at the moment? Are there ways this could be improved? Could it be automated? How easy is it to gather the information you need?
If you routinely work through these processes as part of your job you'll be surprised how complicated some of these actually are but because you've done it so often you don't stop to think about what is involved.
I guarantee that somewhere you will see something that can be improved. It may cost money to fix but the end result is a saving of your precious time. You never know you may even be able to go to the gym!
Over the course of this year we'll be publishing many more articles on the theme of productivity so keep checking on this blog, or sign up for our monthly newsletter.