“It’s December already? How did that happen?”
These are words I’m hearing a lot right now in my executive coaching practice.
Yes, indeed, it’s that time of the year – when we realize a new year is just around the corner. That usually means joy, celebration, and hopeful expectations about what the new year will bring.
But it’s also a period when a lot of clients share with me that they are feeling pressure – trying to squeeze in last-minute deals to meet tough year-end revenue and profit goals at work while the tensions at home rise due to children facing final exams and everyone trying to squeeze in meaningful family connections – and holiday shopping. There never seems to be enough time!
In my book, Leading YOU™, released earlier this year, I focus an entire chapter on the importance of managing time. A critical part of self-leadership and building a great brand for yourself as a leader is how well you use the 24 hours you have each and every day.
Over the past 15 years as a coach and speaker, I’ve experimented with a lot of productivity tools – some “techie,” some not. Some have been absolutely amazing – saving me loads of time. Others fizzled.
So, as we prepare to end 2017 and move into 2018, I thought I’d share my findings with you – the very best productivity tools I’ve discovered over the years. This, to help YOU™ get a jump-start on your productivity in 2018, and to face the new year with cool, calm, and collected confidence.
I’ll share these tips every few days in the coming weeks. To respect your time(!), I’ll keep these tips short and to the point, sharing just a few in each blog post. They shouldn’t take more than 5-10 minutes to read.
Here are my first few productivity tools, below. I’d love to hear what you think! Feel free to share your response in the comment section below.
Tip #1: Use voice-activated software to dictate emails. I can type about 100 words per minute, but no matter how fast I type, I can still speak the same words more quickly. So, to save time on typing and emails, I use Dragon Naturally Speaking, a voice-activated software.
I speak into a headset, and DNS types whatever I say – just as quickly as I say it. This single tech solution has saved me hundreds of hours of typing time! I can complete my morning email routine in less than half of the time it used to take me, making DNS one of the best time-saving techniques I have ever used.
What if you have an accent and/or you are not a native English speaker? No problem. DNS also trains itself to learn your voice so, it will recognize and type whatever you say. Available for both PC and Mac.
Tip #2: Use Shortkeys for your most common phrases. When you’re in a quiet place where you can’t dictate using Dragon Naturally Speaking, Shortkeys comes to the rescue!
Have you ever noticed that you tend to type the same phrases over and over again? I do, too. Words like “Thank you, and best regards, Brenda” or instructions to a team member, such as “Please set up an electronic invitation for this event.” Instead of wasting my time typing those frequently recurring phrases again and again, I set up Shortkeys so that it recognizes a code for my key phrases (e.g., “tybr” for the first phrase above, and “eli” for the second phrase). Boom! They are typed out immediately upon using those codes. As such, Shortkeys has also saved me countless amounts of time throughout my day.
Tip #3: Be productive – even in the shower! As an author and blogger, I always have ideas popping up in my head that I want to jot down. So, you will find a notepad and pen handy in all rooms of my house and office – always within reach.
But, what about those amazing ideas that hit me when I’m in the shower? They often used to fade away before I had a chance to jot them down, causing me frustration and lost inspiration. Maybe you’ve had that happen to you, too?
Not anymore. Earlier this year, I found Aquanotes, completely waterproof notepads that allow you to record your great ideas while you’re in the shower. Use the suction cups on the back of the notepad to stick it to the shower wall, and use the soy-based pencil to write down your great ideas – guaranteed not to smudge. I even take an Aquanotes pad and pencil to the swimming pool, as I can write on it while completely immersed in the water!
I hope you’ve enjoyed this initial installment of “My Favorite Productivity Tips.” I encourage you to try them out and/or give one or more of these tools to someone this holiday season!
I’ll write more soon. In the meantime, please send me a note via the comment section below, and share any other great time-saving tips you’ve run across. I look forward to hearing back from you!
Take care, and all the best – Brenda (this phrase was typed with Shortkeys…)