My basic philosophy with technology is this: “use it to achieve your objectives”. It’s that simple. But it can easily hinder your progress without a system in place to manage it. There’s a real art to using technology to free up, rather than eat into your time.
Many of my clients and friends share with me their feelings of technological overwhelm. I help them establish a system with some rules that work for them, knowing what they can cope with and taking into consideration their degree of mobility and the complexity of their jobs and lives. I thought it might be useful to share a couple of my own tips and tricks for getting the results I want in my work day and I hope they make your life easier too.
Getting Inspired: Having a set of goals is important. Staying connected with them is equally as important. Images are a powerful way to do this. As I come across an image of something that inspires me, I save it in a file I set up called ‘Vision Board’. I have created a collage of these inspiring images in Picasa (free Google image management software). When I power up my PC, my ‘vision board’ instantly appears as my wallpaper on my desktop, immediately inspiring me and reminding me of my goals. I also use two other lovely little free apps called Penzu (journaling) and VisionBoard both from Happy Tapper.
Staying Inspired: I’ve moved on from bookmarking websites and remembering what I bookmarked (and why). I now use a fantastic free app called Evernote and I can add anything to it around my own themes, projects and ideas. For example, I’m currently working on a big project and I want to keep track of all the websites, e-mails, images, documents, etc that I come across that will help me with that project. All I have to do is click the little Evernote button and they get flagged neatly in there!
Making it happen: To make sure the rubber hits the road I use a fantastic free service called Simpleology to manage my tasks and keep me focussed. I log onto it in the morning, do my morning brain dump of everything I need to get done and then I just focus on one item at a time, ticking things off throughout the day. It’s so satisfying and makes me so much more productive than having 10 windows open at once just ‘so I don’t forget’.
Pull vs Push: I don’t get interrupted by e-mail all day long. When I’m working on a project, I apply the ‘pull’ strategy: I shut down my e-mail application and only open it when I need to. I then have three routine times when I handle e-mail, morning noon and night. The ‘delete’ button is your second best friend here.
Finding your files: I have a really easy system for knowing exactly where anything is in my filing system. This is all laid out in Paper Flow, your ultimate guide to making paperwork easy, along with screen shot examples. Basically there are just 5 main folders – only two of them for ACTION and everything is filed under those folders. The same applies to e-mail. It just keeps things flowing beautifully.
File sharing: I use a great free service called Dropbox to share and access files while I’m away. My clients and colleages can receive files from me without the e-mail trail with enormous file sizes. I have also created my own set of files that I’m working on, so when I travel (I’m actually writing this blog on holiday) I don’t even need to take my laptop with me. I can log in anywhere and have access to all my files while I’m away. Colleagues and clients will have access to real-time updates from me.
Reading: My iPad makes light work of my reading as all my reading material is loaded onto that before I go. I can now move mountains of work in airport lounges so there’s nothing waiting for me at the other end. I know it’s a bit of an investment but I’m not looking back!
Social connection: I can manage all of my social media accounts with my one social media dashboard: Hoot Suite. This enables me to post content across all the different social media, as well as schedule content to load at different times and for different channels.
Connecting 1:1: To keep costs down, I use Skype as much as I can for calls but I also use a great teleconferencing service for group coaching calls with the added benefit of recording the meeting. Webinars are my other favourite for learning and teaching.
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I’m curious to find out how you use technology to actually make your life easier (rather than harder). Please share your favourite tip with us on Facebook.