Tools to Help Make Your Processes More Efficient
Let’s start here: I’ve always been the person who finds more efficient ways to perform tasks. In my corporate past, I’d find ways to streamline communication between managers who worked opposite schedules, or to make meetings more efficient. In the startup world, I found that remote work was the most efficient use of my time, rather than shlepping between work spaces throughout the day. Now, with my clients, the onboarding process typically sees me finding ways to make working together more efficient. After all, many businesses have a handle on internal communication, but bringing in an external and/or remote team can be challenging.
In short: I want to find a way to get more done, in less time, with efficient and streamlined communication between individuals and departments. Over the years, I’ve found that the following tools have helped me tremendously in this endeavor.
Does this email exchange sound familiar?
“I’m free Monday at 2pm if that works for you.”
“I’m sorry, that doesn’t work, I’m out of the office on Monday.”
“What about Tuesday?”
“I can do 11am or 4pm.”
“I can do 11am but I have a hard stop at 11:30.”
“I think the meeting will be an hour, let’s do 4pm”
“OK! I’ll send a calendar invite.”
I don’t know about you, but I’m already disinterested in this meeting. Sharing Google Calendars amongst business partners or contractors and clients help with event scheduling, and avoids the dreaded back-and-forth by allowing you to block off times that you’re busy (without divulging all the details).
Calendly takes it a step further by syncing directly with your calendar(s) and developing a link that you can send to prospective partners. The platform even sends an email confirmation with customized details, and, if you’d like, a reminder email so that if something comes up, the person can reschedule with the click of a button.
To be honest, I used to think that Calendly was impersonal and vowed never to use it. Then I realized, it’s actually a way to be considerate of someone else’s time and inbox. What’s better than that?
Project management tools are essential when it comes to events, especially if you’re sharing your timeline with an external or internal person or team.
I used Trello in my startup life, which is a platform that keeps track of everything, from the big picture to minute details. Each project is created as a board, a list, or a card, where you can add images, assign tasks, and converse with your team members. It’s very visual, which is wonderful for people who have a ton of images to work with for inspiration or implementation. Trello is free to get started and has upgraded features.
Personally, Asana works better for me. Why? Simply put: I am less visual, and am a to-do list freak. Seriously, I’m the person who has a paper to-do list, an electronic list, and a shared list on Asana. They have a number of different project templates you can use, which is great because not every project or team is the same. I also love that you can sync with your calendar(s) and view your tasks as a list, in calendar view, as a timeline, and view progress in real time. Basic Asana is free, and there are upgrades you can customize as needed.
I also love that you can tag and assign people to different tasks, and they’ll be reminded with an email confirmation. Easy!
We’ve all had a 500-email inbox at one point or another, with the bulk of the emails being a dreaded email chain, where we’re copied as a courtesy more than a necessity. Discussions among large groups are commonplace—especially in project management circumstances, or when launching a new product, service or campaign.
Slack saves your inbox, period. Sure, it’s another program to install and another notification you’ll receive, but the beauty of it is that you can view it on your own time—and even set to ‘Do Not Disturb’ or vacation mode. There are also integrations with Google Drive to avoid clicking in and out of the program.
There are other tools as well (even Facebook is trying to compete), but I find that Slack has the best integrations and inclusions for the price (free to start!)
Many people know about the benefits of Google Drive, but there are still people who are not up to speed! Having ‘live documents’ to view, along with the option to comment, assign tasks via email, and download and export. You can also select who to share each document and/or folder with, so that you can separate private documents from collaborative ones.
Similarly, Dropbox is great for sharing massive amounts of information (especially documents that take up a lot of storage space). This cloud-based platform is similar to Google Drive in use, and you can add storage as needed. You can also delete or un-share documents and folders when you’re finished with them!
Zoom Meetings/Uberconference/Google Hangouts
Want to have an in-person meeting, but geography and/or time restricts you from doing so? Enter the virtual meeting platforms of the future. These platforms have the option to have a video call (just make sure you have the ‘automatic video’ feature turned off if you tend to work from home in your PJs!), record the conversation, and share screens.
These options work great not only for virtual meetings, but virtual training sessions as well! I recently onboard a client’s first full-time hire, 90% virtually, using the training manual I created and Uberconference meetings. Neither of us had to sit in traffic, run late due to a public transportation issue, or worry about parking. Now that is efficient.
Many organizations fear the remote worker, thinking that it’s a slippery slope to collecting a paycheck with little productivity. If your business warrants employees to be on the clock for a certain amount of hours, or if you would like an efficient way to keep track of billable hours for consultants you employ, Clockify is amazing.
You can categorize each employee or consultant, create projects that are billable and non-billable, and make sure that you’re getting your money’s worth. You can also view a timesheet for a certain period, or view by project. It’s a godsend for seeing the small details and big picture at once. Of course, productivity isn’t necessarily measured, but anything that saves me a bit of time and headache is worth it to me!
If you are looking for ways to make your team more efficient and productive, get in touch for a consultation!
What are some of your favorite tools to enable productivity in your organization?