Time is one thing that everyone can agree they'd like more of. Anything that can help you save time is typically worth a lot because time is one resource we can't get back. Therefore, I thought I would let you know about a few of the tools that I use to help me save massive amounts of time.
TextExpander is an app that will work on your PC, Mac or Phone that saves you massive amounts of time typing. I use this for emails. If I have repetitive emails that I have to send responses to, I can type one keyword and the entire email instantly pops itself onto the screen. I only had to type it once and now I can just insert it anywhere by typing one word. I do the same thing with things like emails addresses that I type all the time. Use a short acronym for the keyword and you can type three letters to get that incredibly long email address typed into a form or response. Same with different email signatures. There are free and paid versions available.
Calendly saves tons of time when trying to schedule calls and meetings. I have several different calls and times set up in Calendly and I can just grab one from their browser extension, throw it into an email and send it to someone so they can choose a time that’s open on my calendar that works for them. You can designate certain kinds of meetings to be between certain times. You can set up different size time slots for different kinds of meetings. For example, people who want to set up a call to sell me something out of the blue (I’m sure I’m the only one who gets 10 of those a day). If I’m interested, I send them a 15-minute time slot. I’m not wasting more than 15 minutes on those calls. If I’m setting up a podcast interview, I have one hour podcast time slots designated when I can make them work and it automatically emails them reminders with info on how we’re going to meet.
Grammarly can save you all kinds of embarrassment. It checks your spelling and grammar in all kinds of different applications that you're typing in (including on your phone). It makes sure that everything makes sense and suggests better ways of spelling, etc.. It also keeps track of your stats for words typed per week and your rate of errors so you can make a game out of improving.
If you want to gather a lot of information from a lot of people or want to gather the same information over and over again, I recommend Google Forms. It comes free with a Gmail account as a part of Google Drive. You can make any kind or length of form you want. It gathers all the information from the forms and throws them into a spreadsheet where you can track them or analyze them. It even send you email alerts every time someone fills out the form (if you want) with the information they just filled out.
Boomerang is a super handy app that will work with gmail or as it’s own email app on your phone. Boomerang will do a lot of things but there are three that I use it for.
- You can delay sending emails. Type it up, tell it when you want it to send and hit the button. Great for emails born of late night inspiration or ones that you want everyone to be in the office for.
- Reminders — It will remind you if you don’t get a response to an email in a designated number of days so you check back in with that person. Better than a calendar reminder.
- Respondable Ratings — It will tell you how easy it is for someone to read and respond to your email based on how you wrote it so you can improve and make your emails easier to read and respond to.
I use this primarily for long term tasks lists and project management. You can create Kan Ban Boards (aka Scrum Boards), lists, assignment boards and thousands of other possibilities. I use a Kan Ban Board to track my personal projects and long term tasks from “To-Do” to “In Process” to "Verification" to “Done”. I also have a “waiting on someone else” list but I might as well label that one the grave yard. We have the same kind of Kan Ban Boards built for projects that my team is working on that are shared between us so we can all see where each component is in the process. It’s a great collaboration tool and it keeps my office from looking like a whiteboard and a stack of sticky notes had a baby.
This one is a recent find and I know that I haven’t even tapped all the potential that’s there yet. Otter is a recording app for your phone, tablet or laptop that not only records things, it also transcribes them in real time with time stamps. It is not perfect but it is a lot more accurate than you would believe. It also has a function to learn different people’s voices once you tell it who they are and it will label who’s talking. That function doesn’t work so great yet, especially in a big room with some echo but I have no doubt they’ll improve it. This app is outstanding for taking notes, meeting minutes, writing content (without actually writing), etc.. I’ve started using it for meeting minutes in Board Meetings but I’m sure I’ll come up with lot’s more uses eventually.
Evernote is basically my memory at this point. I’ve been using it for at least five years and I thrown everything in there. I do a lot of writing inside Evernote, I clip emails and web pages I want to save. I scan documents and save them in there (yes they have their own scanner app that will automatically add it to your notes). Anything I want to remember or reference later goes in Evernote. It’s completely searchable (even the documents you scanned and turned into pdfs) and you can organize it to your heart’s desire or not organize it all and you can still search everything and find something from years ago in seconds if you just remember a few words that were in the note.