Digital tools for more efficiency: 3 tips to do more with less time

Whether it is for your work or for your private life, today there are new free tools to do more with less time. 

Before, most of our productivity tools has been provided only by our employer and available mostly at our workplace. Today the new digital and productivity tools are vastly available (for example : Gmail, Google Sheet, Google Docs, Slack, Trello, Dropbox, unlimited internet, unlimited phone calls, …) and we can be significantly more efficient at all time.

It’s not to say that today we have the tools to work all the time. It’s rather to say that today we can be very efficient with our work and thus have more time for our private life and passions.  

Remote working is also changing. Today, is less about how to organize yourself to remotely work from home, but more about how to organize yourself to be efficient everywhere. 

“The best work desk is the one that you can take with you”

This long introduction is to give you an idea to what extent this digital revolution is having an impact on us now and in the future. 

3 tips for more efficiency

Please find below 3 tips that are based on digital tools which have made me efficient everywhere and feel free in my professional and private life.

Tip #1 : Action Notes

Today our daily environment is very dynamic. Many scheduled meetings, multiple ad-hoc interactions (calls, SMS, chat in the elevator or during launch time, …) and constant smartphone/laptop interactions (emails, scrolling for news, notifications, SMS, Facebook messages, …). 

When before, the idea brainstorming was mostly happening in more structured way and mostly during official work meeting, today it’s happening everywhere because we are constantly bombarded by so many interactions (your boss is calling to tell you about new projects inputs, your teammates gives you an update by email, your friends gives you an idea about the project discussion you had a day ago, …)  

To capture this avalanche of ideas I tested many approaches (having always paper notebook & pencil with me, working on tablet or even record vocal notes). Eventually the right approach, that made me feel really more efficient and free, is based on remote, searchable and easily available cloud based notes.

Let me give you more details : 

  • Today, all my notes (my personal notes, my project notes, my teammate notes) are always available on all my personal devices (smartphone, laptop, tablet) or even any internet connected device (secured with login and password). This way I can always access them whatever the device I’m using at a given moment. For example, if I’m eating a diner with somebody who gives me an idea how to push things forward I can go to my smartphone and go to my personal notes and write this idea. Of course, the same notes are available on my computer / tablet (if I make a change on smartphone, the notes will be automatically updated on other devices). Therefore when I’m with my laptop and I want to return to the idea I’ve noted during the diner I can do it.
  • Moreover, all my notes are searchable. It means that I can find a specific note very fast using keywords. For example, if I search for a Luna project. I can type Luna and find my notes related to Luna. 

BTW. For my notes, I’m using 2 services : Apple Notes and Google Docs

Finally, When I take a note, I’m writing them to the notes associated with an action based on this note. If somebody gives me an idea about the LUNA project. I don’t write the idea in my overall notes but I go to the Luna project and write it there. Therefore, during my next meeting with LUNA project team I will see the note because we will use the LUNA team notes. 

BTW. Let me know by email (remote life.net@gmail.com) if you want me to write an article about how to synchronize your notes with all your devices ?  And already today you can go to this article with similar advices http://digitalsmarttools.io/index.php/2020/02/09/run-effective-meetings-how-to-gain-time-with-collaborative-notes-taking-during-a-meeting/ 

TIP #2 : Action Calendar

Since our work environment is so highly paced (meetings, calls, chats with your coworkers, constant smartphone scrolling, …), it is important to be able to schedule your meetings fast and directly when we have an opportunity to do it. Today its less efficient to wait to go to your work desk and list all the meetings we need to schedule and send invitations. Today, whether it’s during an idle chat, work brainstorming or ad-hoc call, it’s much more efficient to access directly your agenda, see or ask for the agenda of the person(s) with whom you want to schedule a meeting and send invitation directly on the go.

The huge advantage is that if you schedule a meeting right away, and you and the participants don’t forget that you need to meet up. Finally, you avoid the situation when you return to your workplace to send the invitation and you don’t remember why and when and with whom.

Tip #3 Shared and remote notes with key people

In your work life you can have many teammates, coworkers, colleagues, work partners interactions. With some of them you have a specific work process where you can formalize your notes (for example a weekly meeting with your project team) but most of the time you will share your thoughts with them during unofficial meetings and mostly by talking. More over with some coworkers you will not have any specific process (for example with people from different companies or departments). With so many interactions with different people (short chats, longer meetings, calls, …) you start to loss some ideas because you simply didn’t note them down. I’ve started to ask myself, how I can keep a truck of the important conversation with people I’m working. The idea is based on the approach mixing organization and technology.

Organization : When I start to have a need to take notes with somebody with whom I interact, I use my smartphone to take notes directly during the interaction and say : “I like your ideas, I need to note them down. If you want I can share my notes with you after our meeting”.

Technology :
– This way the next time I see the person I can go back to the notes using search functionality and add new notes. This way I start to have a place to share notes with this person. But I can do it with everybody.
– How I can find notes for a specific person ? In the title of the note I write specific keywords to be able to find them (their names, project and department names) afterwards.

End of part 1 of this article. I have 3 more tips that I will add later on.

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