Did you happen to start your own business recently? If so, you’re likely hoping to be as efficient as possible, since your time is valuable—as is true for all of us. There’s something empowering about speed and efficiency—and, as the saying goes, time is money. So, without further ado, here are a few shortcuts for taking care of logistical tasks and everyday to-do lists at work.
There’s an app for that!
Apps help people save time, money, and sanity due to their ability to automate tasks that used to be manually processed, such as invoicing. Mobile invoicing allows you to immediately invoice after a service call; for example: “Being able to immediately issue invoices using your mobile phone saves you a considerable amount of time, especially if you’re on an extended work trip that will keep you away from your office for several days.”
In addition to saving you time, mobile invoicing also can save you money by eliminating the need to print and mail an invoice. You’ll also be able to easily integrate your app with other software, as most apps are ‘smart’ about figuring out how to work with other programs. In addition to invoicing apps, there are also predictive intelligence apps (e.g. Einstein), third-party app integration (e.g. Zapier), and desktop software with cloud integration apps (e.g. Google Docs or Dropbox) to look into.
If an app can’t help, Artificial Intelligence (AI) will!
Or, alternately, one of the new, up-and-coming forms of technology, such as machine learning—otherwise known as adaptable artificial intelligence. According to Ohio University, it’s “the next big step in developing robotic systems capable of performing complex tasks in fast paced environments.” There are, for example, programming tools that serve as a basis for machine learning systems which are finally experiencing widespread release. There are also vision cameras that have evolved from external sensors to systems that are responsive to environmental and sensory input.
Business intelligence has also evolved to interpret large amounts of data using new software that performs advanced meta-processing of data in order to suggest specific courses of action. The visualization of data will also help to illustrate potential important business opportunities. Lastly, business leaders will want to consider how their products and services can cater to the gig and shared economy models that provide professionals-on-demand and within a short amount of time—catering to both on-demand and traditional customers, so as to diversify their client base.
Whether your workspace is in a traditional office or at home, it’s crucial to be as organized as possible, at all times—although it’s especially important when working from home. Part of the reason for this is that it’s likely easier to get distracted when working at home, surrounded by gizmos and gadgets. Psychologically, it will help quite a bit to make sure all your files and paperwork are organized and in order, your schedule is easy to locate, and your time is well-managed. Whether you do this with a physical calendar or planner or with a Cloud-based tool like Google calendar is up to you; but however you do it, make sure it gets done!
To this end, it may also help to have certain rituals in place—such as coffee-making and showering—that get you psychologically ready for the day. This way, even though you aren’t in the office physically, your home environment supports your work mode and your psychological state of mind—which is work-mode!
Communicate wisely, not more often!
Do you ever feel as if you spend more time talking than getting through to people? Entrepreneur recently published an article by Dorothy Mitchell that addresses some of the most common communication-related time wasters. For example, take traditional meetings: Mitchell recommends holding short standing meetings, instead—in part, to address employee focus and alertness, as well as productivity and efficiency. She suggests, as an alternative, holding virtual or digital meetings or sending out a company-wide email, so as to cut down on time and allow employees to focus on their main job duties.
Mitchell also suggests implementing an efficient communication system such as Microsoft Dynamics, Ooma, or Slack to “facilitate smoother and faster internal communication among staff, or hold short, impromptu meetings.” You might also consider using a universal cloud system—such as Google Drive—in order to centrally locate all company files, programs, and so on and cut down on distractions, as well.
Don’t be afraid to take breaks!
In a recent article on Fast Company, Rich Bellis quotes Ellevest founder and CEO Sallie Krawcheck in saying, “The more I walk, the more ideas I have.” She reportedly takes four-mile walks and comes up with all kinds of ideas for newsletter updates, people she should contact, etc. The Pomodoro Technique, similarly, encourages frequent breaks to help stimulate creativity by encouraging the brain to switch gears often and have fun rather than force your brain to work harder than necessary. By “eliminating burnout,” according to the website, and working “with time, not against it,” it claims to eliminate the urge to procrastinate because it allows for sufficient time away from work.
Bellis also recommends getting to know yourself enough to know when you should quit. If people are encouraged to acknowledge that mental resources “ebb and flow,” they may be able to get more done by switching their focus to different projects when their juice for one runs out. He also recommends embracing procrastination in order to put 100% into whatever it is you’re doing at the moment. That way, when you return to the task at hand, you’ll be more focused and motivated.
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Today’s workplace requires flexibility, creativity, and a willingness to try new things in order to succeed. If we acknowledge that we can’t do everything on our own and may benefit from the assistance of machines or software-based intelligence, we may learn something new in the extra time we suddenly find on our hands.
What are some efficiency tools you’ve found to be helpful, in the workplace? Share your experience in the comments section, below.