Technology is both a blessing and a curse. While we all occasionally find ourselves obsessing over our Facebook feeds, technology also helps us perform better at our jobs.
A 2014 survey by Pew Research Center reported that technology has had a positive and lasting impact on worker efficiency. “Forty-six percent of employed online adults say the Internet has made them more productive at work, while just 7 percent believe it has made them less productive.” Although technology can be a distraction, it enables us to work smarter, not harder. For the disciplined, apps, programs and tools aid in minimizing the amount of time it takes to complete certain responsibilities. That way, we spend fewer hours focused on menial tasks and can allocate additional effort to completing bigger, more meaningful projects. When we decide not to be workaholics, we can budget the time we save for sleeping, socializing or relaxing.
If you use technology responsibly, there are countless ways to supercharge your productivity. To start, here are nine tips.
1. Keep email in check.
Most of our technology woes come from a perpetually flooded inbox. To avoid drowning in email, try tools like Sanebox. Self-help guru Tim Ferriss also recommends checking email twice a day to limit how much it would otherwise interrupt your work schedule.
2. Curate your to-do list.
Whenever possible, avoid generic to-do lists. They often turn into never-ending laundry lists filled with trivial items and feel impossible to complete. Instead, break up big projects into smaller, easy-to-tackle parts. Services like Asana or Trello allow you to arrange, categorize and weigh the importance of specific tasks to enable you to better manage your priorities.
3. Read faster.
Average adults read approximately 300 words per minute. That’s also the rate at which we can comprehend and process most texts. That said, there are plenty of opportunities where you might want to quickly read (or skim) documents. Sites like Eyercize or Spreeder allow you to copy-and-paste text to power through longer articles or books.
4. Invest in email tools.
Whenever you communicate with customers, sales prospects or vendors, you are guaranteed to run into a scenario where you will need to follow up with them en masse. To avoid the headache of doing it manually, take advantage of powerful email marketing services like Customer.io, Klaviyo or Vero.
5. Put social media on a schedule.
As much as you might like to hang out on Twitter all day, you don’t have to to engage your followers. Apps like Buffer, Foster.fm and Tailwind allow individuals and brands to schedule social posts to Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Google+ days or weeks in advance so you can consistently feed your followers content they will love, even when you are away from your desk or are on an island vacation.
6. Take keyboard shortcuts.
Coding Horror author Jeff Atwood believes, “One of the quickest ways to increase your productivity on the computer is to go commando: stop using the mouse.” Most people couldn’t imagine doing a thing without their mouse but a few simple keyboard strokes can often accomplish the same goals and cut your reaction time in half. And if you spend a lot of time using Excel, be sure to practice these keyboard shortcuts too.
7 Track your time.
Your time is valuable. It can sometimes be frightening to see how much time you’ve spent on various activities. Quantifying the hours you spend on Facebook each day, or watching Hulu and Netflix on the weekends, develops your self-awareness about computer usage habits that diminish your productivity. To regain control of your time, use tools such as Due, RescueTime or Wrike.
8. Use templates.
We mostly don't realize the absurd amount of time we waste repeating the same actions over and over again. What’s nice about technology is that we can always eliminate redundancies. Typing the same copy into an email may seem easy enough, but having various templates for the different kinds of emails you plan to send can save you hours each month. Business documents do not necessarily need to be made from scratch each time either. If you or somebody on your team has already invested the time in building something, make an effort to recycle it. Doing so helps create brand consistency and saves you a ton of time.
9. Work in the cloud.
These days, lots of workers spend a majority of their time on-the-road or telecommuting. So, while you are on a plane, train or bus, are waiting in line for something, or staying home to work in your pajamas, you should be able to get real work done.
To access all your files anywhere where in the world, you will need to upload everything to the cloud. Services like Box, Dropbox and Google Drive make it easy for consumers and businesses to securely save and store documents, spreadsheets and presentations they’ll need to stay productive wherever they are.
10. Ban it from the bedroom.
Finally, one of the easiest ways to be more productive is simply by restricting use of technology in the bedroom. By keeping your phone and laptop out of your sleeping quarters, you get a better night’s rest and won’t be tempted to work the graveyard shift.
Technology is powerful and can enhance both your personal and professional lives. That said, don’t let it become a distraction.