This post is written by Francesca Geens. Francesca runs Digital Dragonfly a technology consultancy that specialises in one-person businesses. Francesca is especially interested in productivity and the use of technology to improve people’s day-to-day business lives.
Technology is supposed to make our lives easier but from experience with my clients I think most people will agree that it doesn’t always feel this way! So what are the three easy steps you can take to increase your productivity – or better put, your tech sanity?
Instead of the usual long list of favourite productivity apps, I thought I would add some best practice into the mix as I find that this can often make the biggest difference.
1. Keep things in good order
If you have files and shortcuts strewn across your desktop, you are likely to spend more time than is necessary finding what you want. Get to grips with your file structure and save documents where they need to be, delete what you don’t need and remember to empty the trash. Having a well-ordered computer is the first step to getting more work done.
The same goes for your email inbox – get your inbox to zero every day by moving emails to an Action folder and a Reading folder so that you can easily get to what’s important. Once you have actioned an email, delete it or move it to an appropriate folder.
2. Use the cloud
It has never been easier or cheaper to get your data in the cloud. There are two reasons you should embrace the cloud: to back-up your data and to get hold of your data from more than one place. My all-time favourite cloud app is Dropbox. Saving documents to Dropbox allows you to work from them offline, sync them to any other device such as a phone or laptop and have them backed up all at the same time. You don’t need to worry about backing up your data, you don’t need to email yourself documents or carry them round on a USB stick – you just access your data from any device whenever you need to.
3. Optimise your tools
Decide what is most important for you and spend some time getting to know your kit so that it works for you. Configure your phone and tablet with the right apps for your business needs and spend some time familiarising yourself. If you work on the go and rely on email, calendar and contacts make sure these are configured to properly sync with all your devices so you always have all your email folders up to date. I am still surprised on a daily basis by the kind of inconveniences people put up with because they aren’t aware there is a much easier way and this is especially true when it comes to business email. If your email, calendar and contacts aren’t seamlessly syncing between your desktop, laptop, smartphone and tablet you really ought to consider upgrading to either Google Apps for Business or Microsoft’s Office365. Having email that works really well probably gives my clients the biggest productivity boost of all.
Once you have the above three principles sorted you can relax and play around with all those productivity apps everyone else keeps mentioning like Evernote, Instapaper, Basecamp, Highrise, Capsule CRM, Hootsuite etc.
You might also be interested in our previous post on the top 10 mobile tools and applications for small businesses.
Do you have any tips of your own on using technology to boost your productivity?