Selecting the Right Tool for the Job

I admit it. I'm overwhelmed with information. I'm disorganized, inefficient, and easily distracted. The worst part is, I'm painfully aware that it's pretty much all my own fault.

If you're like me (and chances are good that you are), you spend each and every day trying the best you can to meet the demands of your job. You do so by leveraging an increasingly long list of content development techniques, software tools, and electronic gadgets all designed to make your lives easier. But no matter how hard you try, you never seem to catch up.

The good news is, you're not alone. You, me, and millions of other knowledge workers around the globe are working harder--and longer--than the generations of workers that came before us. And that's got to stop.

We have to find ways to work smarter. And that means taking a serious look at the way we work today in order to develop more efficient approaches tomorrow.

Let us consider email for a moment. It is, arguably, the biggest time suck of all.

Suppose you wanted to invite seven people to a meeting. You send an email to the group asking if they can make it at 2 p.m. next Tuesday. Two people respond that they can make the meeting. One declines. Another says she can't make it on Tuesday, but she can make it on Wednesday. Still another person writes back to ask what the meeting is about and why you are inviting him when he's not in your department. Two people don't respond at all.

Sound familiar? After you respond to everyone involved, answer their questions, and telephone those who didn't respond, you may find that it can take dozens of emails (maybe more!) to set up a 30-minute meeting. In fact, it likely takes longer to set up the meeting than it takes to hold it. There's definitely something wrong with this approach.

But it doesn't have to be that way. We can work far more effectively (and save significant time and money) by using tools designed to help us work smarter. In this case, leveraging a tool such as MeetingWizard, a web-based productivity tool that was designed to streamline the process of inviting people to meetings, can be a big time-saver.

Working smarter isn't any harder, and it isn't more expensive either. For as little as $50 a month, you can take advantage of one of the best time-savers I've discovered. It's called Witty Parrot, a cloud-based, searchable, shareable repository of reusable content. Witty Parrot allows you to store chunks of text, images, sounds, videos, and documents (they call these "wits") that you frequently need to share with others. When you need a wit, you drag it from the palette into whatever you're creating, be it an email message, document, Facebook post, or request for proposal.

Witty Parrot makes it easy for you to be productive by placing commonly repurposed content at your fingertips. You'll save significant time not having to look for snippets of relevant content, and when teams of individuals use it together, you can ensure you're not only communicating efficiently, but consistently.

Becoming productive isn't only about selecting the right tools; it's also about making smart decisions about what work needs to be done, by whom, and when. It means admitting that some work-perhaps a lot of what we do each day-doesn't really need to be done at all.

If you're ready to work smarter, take a critical look at how you work today. Then, make a list of the things that slow you down and prevent you from being efficient. Look for ways to minimize the amount of time it takes to perform these tasks. Then seek out tools and technologies designed to tackle the job at hand.

You might be surprised at just how efficient you can be-and how your efforts to be more efficient could help your company's bottom line. Just imagine how many countless hours are wasted every day by employees doing repetitive, and sometimes unnecessary, tasks.

Seek out productivity-enhancing tools and techniques. Try them out for a while. Keep the ones that work for you, and ditch those that don't.

Don't keep your findings a secret-share your productivity tips with others, especially me. I could really use the help.