Technology is not a cure, it is part of a process.”
Most people I talk to about efficiency seem to think the first step towards efficiency is to buy some type of technology. They’re right that techsmarthere plays a part in efficiency, but it is not the best first step. Technology is not a cure, it is part of a process. When deployed properly technology creates incredible efficiencies that will improve your ability to commit to tasks, link tasks together and plan your time better.
A technological efficiency is any tool that makes it easier for you to accomplish a specific task. Post-It Notes can be a technological efficiency because you can create notes so quickly and easily – no tape, no printing, no stapling, no trimming paper to size, etc. Imagine how much effort it would be if you had to manually apply your own Post-It Note-like glue to paper in order to achieve the same types of functionality?
To become more efficient using technology there are three basic steps:
1) Review the steps and tools you use to perform a task or process
2) Identify the steps and tools that could be improved by technology
3) Replace your current tool with a new technology that you will actually use
Start by writing down each step you take when performing a task or set of tasks. For each step list the technologies you use. For example, if your task is to set up a meeting with a client then you would:
a) Call the client (Phone)
b) Enter the appointment in your calendar (Calendar)
c) Notify all attendees (Email)
The next step is to identify which steps could be improved by technology. It’s hard to improve on the telephone as a technology but your calendar and email could be improved for the purpose of these tasks. If you were using an integrated customer relationship manager (CRM) and email system you could a) look up the client phone number and make the call, b) create an electronic appointment in your CRM’s calendar function and c) simultaneously have your CRM / Email system send a notification to the attendees. By having an integrated CRM solution you would save yourself from manually managing a calendar or appointment book and save the effort of drafting separate emails.
The last step is to replace your current tools with the new one. This step does take careful planning, education and training, and a commitment to changing how you perform the task (which will be the subject of a future article). Take it slow – change takes time. And once the change takes effect, you’ll experience greater efficiencies through the use of technology.
Now when you start to put all the personal efficiency skills together you’ll see a tremendous improvement in how you work overall. By adding technology to your processes you’ll see certain tasks through to completion much faster, effectively making your task-commitment and task-linking even easier.