The sheer pace of business and life makes it difficult to remember what comes next, what is critical, what is really important, and what can wait until tomorrow. Applying technology is not the solution to every problem, and technology won’t solve our own lack of discipline. But, this area of cutting through the clutter and staying focused is one that technology can certainly help with, if blended with good time management and organizational principles. Here are a few things I have been using and learning:
Don’t keep notes in more than one place. As easy as it is, using a post-it, the back of a napkin, and three different notebooks only adds to clutter and distraction. Consolidate to just one place for all of your notes. I have been using an iPad with Evernote. If I take notes, I take them there. The notes sync through the cloud to my PC, my smartphone, and my iPad. I always know where to look, and I can find them with a simple search.
If it is important, it is worth scheduling time to do it. Sure, it does not always happen when scheduled, but there is really no chance of getting it done without reserving time for it. I like Google calendar for our home schedule because it allows multiple people to access and update it. The iPad, and other tools allow you to overlay your home and work schedules to create one view of your calendar, which is what the time management guru’s have been recommending for years.
What is really important today? I like the Top 5 method of keeping your priorities straight. Make a list for the day, prioritize it, and keep coming back to the top of the list when interrupted and working through it top-down. I keep my to do list in a very simple cloud-based list app called Wunderlist. It too syncs to my phone and all my devices.
Meetings are a great place to talk about what we should do, without following through and taking action. Coming out with an agreed upon list of actions and deadlines is so important. We have just begun to use Trello with our internal teams to identify action items and track them. So far it is really helping. We use shared boards to post the action items, assignments, and dates. It helps keep us all on the same page and agreed upon the same actions. Trello is available via their website, or as an app for Andriod or IOS.
Automation is often overlooked in small/medium business, because it takes time and discipline, and sometimes an investment in technology. However, automating allows people to pay attention to the important things and lets the technology coordinate the mundane. It frees people to do what they do best, while letting technology handle the repetition with ease. Workflow enabled ECM like Laserfiche will allow you to automate the flow of information, bring work to people, and create a systemized process of alerting people to actions they must take.
Making business run smoother and people’s lives better is what technology is all about. While it won’t do the heavy lifting, like holding people accountable, deciding on your next business move, or reviewing your financials. If applied correctly, it can free you and your team up to do the important stuff. It can also help get rid of the clutter and help provide focus. What technology or application have you used to save time, create efficiency, or improve the way you do things?