By: DMKashmer MD MBA MBB FACS (visit me on LinkedIn here.)
Have you ever looked at what you do everyday? No, no–I mean really looked at it. Not just the “here’s-what-I’m-doing-today” type of review. I mean a data-driven, how-do-I-spend-my-time review.
It takes effort, and some focus, to keep a time journal or use some similar tool. For me, it took more than a month to get something down on paper that was useful and really showed me how I use my time.
That month lead me to find several useful tools that help me use time not just more efficiently but more effectively. Today, I want to share with you some of the most useful tools and tips that I hunted down in response to my month spent in review of how I squandered, wasted, or otherwise just plain mis-used my time. Please learn from my hunt so you don’t need to find these yourself!
Have you ever needed a password for a website that you haven’t used in awhile? What about a birthday, login, or that article you read a year ago and really want to share right now?
You’ve probably heard of the cloud storage service Dropbox. Yes, it has a great name, because it tells you exactly what it does. On Mac, PC, iPhone, and other devices, you can easily upload and access your files right when you need them.
This allows you to setup some interesting workflows. For example, did you know that you can share a dropbox folder with someone else? So, imagine dictating something into your iPhone and uploading it to Dropbox where your colleague accesses it and transcribes it only to send it to you as an email later that day.
Dropbox is a great app to make data accessible across platforms, available in a timely fashion, and positioned to be useful to colleagues who help you out!
As with other useful apps that may contain data you don’t want shared, remember to enable two-step verification and other security measures whenever possible. Otherwise, you may have an issue if your laptop ever gets stolen with Dropbox enabled…it happened to me just last year!
Yes, you can use Dropbox to create shared Word documents. However, no application has the ease of use to create searchable, shared, multimedia notes like Evernote. Your phone and computer can be a portal to notes shared among all the colleagues with whom you work.
Evernote has several great features, and one is that you can email anything directly to your account in the program. Interestingly, you can even setup a folder to receive all of that data you send to Evernote. You can then sort it later at your convenience.
These thoughts don’t even touch many of the great uses for this powerful platform. If you decide that you ever want to really have a look in on Evernote, take a moment and read SJ Scott’s Master Evernote available on the Kindle platform.
As with Dropbox, allow me to recommend that you setup two-step verification.
Ok, now things get more interesting. Have you heard of 1dollarscan.com? Maybe not…I found this one when it came over from Japan. I wondered why, nowadays, I always had to carry around a book I wanted to read. I mean sure, there are Kindle books (and Nook too), yet I mean those platforms restricted my ability to share my books with anyone or to give them to others to read…just like I would with my books.
I thought there had to be a better way to have my books available, in a less restricted way, when I wanted them. From a time management perspective, 1dollarscan has been incredibly useful. For example, you can setup Amazon.com to send your books directly to 1dollarscan. The service will scan your books (you won’t get them back) and even upload them into dropbox.
One move lets you have digital copies of all your books. If you want to share your book with a friend, copy your book, or make a copy of a photo from your text…you can! And if you read a lot, 1dollarscan makes all those books you’ve been meaning to read much more accessible than ever.
I had a few unique time management problems: first, I never seemed to have the file that I wanted on hand. Second, I would start building something on my 3D printer and would have to walk away. This left me to wonder whether the file I was printing ever finished or just what happened to it.
GotoMyPC.com solves these unique problems and many other more common issues. First, special files, printer access, and other issues can be reviewed as you login to your computer remotely. GotoMyPC allows me to virtually sit at the keyboard for whichever of my office computers I need.
Whether I need to check in on a 3D print, get a file I left at the office, or access an application that I only have on my work PC, GotoMyPC has been a great time-saver.
Pro tip: If you’re in healthcare, watch out…don’t violate HIPAA with your particular use of GotoMyPC!
(5) Voice Recorder HD
This iPhone app is just plain great. You can dictate with great clarity into your iPhone while driving, through a bluetooth headset, or via the speakerphone feature. (Hey, I’m NOT recommending that you concentrate on dictating while driving. Use your own judgement!)
What’s so great about being able to dictate into your phone? The Voice Recorder app easily uploads files into Dropbox…
…and, of course, you can share the Dropbox folder with a colleague or anyone else you’d like.
Transcription services are available online via Odesk.com, Peopleperhour.com, and many other independent contractor websites. You can even find a transcriptionist who lives in another timezone, so it’s possible to have all your work transcribed while you sleep. The transcriptionist can download the file to transcribe and email it to you as a word document later in the day. What a great way to blog, get office work done, or complete that next proforma for work.
It’s quick, effective, and is all because of stringing together these powerful, modern tools. Remember, if you’re in healthcare, you probably want to use this transcription pathway for administrative work only where there’s no protected health information (PHI) involved. After all, HIPAA constraints are important.
After a month of collecting data about just how many of my hours I wasted, it was time to find some new pathways to help me be more effective. I hope you find the five tools above, along with suggestions about how to use them, useful for you in your everyday work flow.
Have some tools, tips, or workflow tricks that you use to work as efficiently and effectively as possible? Let me know beneath!