Many of us assume we’re either productive or we’re not — that there’s no way to dramatically increase efficiency, only to tinker around the edges. Research conducted by Bain & Company’s Organization practice found that the most talented software developers write code nine times faster than the average developer. That the best retail sales associate sells eight times more merchandise. And that the best butchers at New York’s fanciest restaurants can prep meals three times faster than normal.
That research also found that productive behaviors can be learned, too. But when it comes to technology, you don’t have to be a superstar to get your work done in an efficient manner. Thousands of shortcuts exist that allow anyone to boost their productivity. The trick comes in identifying the right strategies — and implementing them properly.
At CMIT Solutions, we help business owners and employees maximize their potential by using the right technology approaches. Below, we identify the best to supercharge your day.
1. Schedule time for emails.
For most people, reading, responding to, and organizing emails takes up a disproportionate part of the day. We could outline 1000 tips solely related to email, but the five big ones here are key:
- Schedule specific time windows to deal with email. Think first thing in the morning, after lunch, or before the end of the day — then keep email minimized while you’re working on other tasks.
- Use filters to categorize and group incoming mail. That way the important messages rise to the surface, the less important messages are there to read when you have time, and the unimportant messages don’t distract you.
- Act on the emails that matter. Instead of letting emails sit, take one of three actions as soon as you can: respond to it, flag it for follow up, or move it to a folder where you can find it later (and yes, Trash counts as a folder, too).
- Keep your emails brief and to the point. Spell out your intent in the subject line, get down to business in the body copy, and use short bullet points or lists if multiple ideas are required. When you scan your email before sending, you should be able to precisely identify the point. If not, revise and cut.
- Schedule emails to send at certain times. If you know what you want to write a few hours before an important email needs to go out, create a draft and schedule it in advance. That way you have time to step away and return to the message with clear eyes.
2. Don’t let browser bookmarks overwhelm you.
Saving links for later reading is one of the indisputable wonders of the modern Internet. But stuffing your bookmarks bar with potential distractions isn’t exactly the most productive way to operate. At a minimum, group your bookmarks in appropriate folders; even better, find a good browser plug-in to either group bookmarks more efficiently or limit the time you can spend distracted by them.
3. Use your smartphone to scan or photograph documents.
Even if you routinely use email to transmit important expenditures, there’s always that random receipt or unexpected business card that needs to be documented. You can simply take a photo of it to minimize clutter on your desk or in your work bag — or you can seek out a handy connector to apps like Evernote or Salesforce to automatically input information from receipts, business cards, documents, and more.
4. Reduce notifications.
In the future, we’ll look back on the early 21st century and think, “How did we allow ourselves to get so distracted?” Bombarded with information from every direction and on every device, working more efficiently starts with muting notifications. Start by turning off news, sports, and social media alerts on your smartphone (on most models, you can do this by clicking Settings > Notifications). Next, rethink the incoming email ding, which can pull you away from important work. And if you find yourself distracted by incoming text messages or phone calls (and they’re not important ones from family members), consider turning those pop-ups off as well.
5. Make all data accessible across all devices.
The days of saving files on thumb drives or emailing yourself important documents should soon come to an end. Cloud-based applications allow access to any file, anytime, anywhere, with real-time updates so you can collaborate remotely. Similarly, your email accounts should be accessible on phones, tablets, laptops, and desktops so that you can always respond to and find important messages when you need to.
Productivity is possible — even if you think you can’t get a handle on it. From short-term efficiency boosts to long-term strategies for business success, CMIT Solutions can help. Contact us today so we can put technology to work for you and your employees.