There are never enough hours in the day for me. When my mother was still alive, she would sometimes look at me and say, “Diane, don’t you ever just sit and stare at a tree?” I’m sure I looked at her confused. Between being a wife, mother, foster parent, entrepreneur, Believer, and currently a part-time caregiver for my father, I only stare at the inside of my eyelids when I’m lucky enough to sleep.
Several times every month I hear, “I don’t know how you do it!” I take that as a big compliment. I don’t necessarily enjoy being this busy, though – it’s just part of having a big life! (Incredibly ironic for someone who stands 5’1”.)
So today I’ll reveal a few tricks on HOW I do it. I’m going to share with you some of my favorite tools and gadgets to get more done in less time.
When it comes to anything I do, I first try to plan out everything I have to accomplish. I get things started that can be running without me, and then I’ll finish the remaining things I must do.
For example, at home, I will start my iRobot Scooba® robot to clean my laminate floors, start my iRobot Roomba® to clean the carpets, start the dishwasher, put clothes in the washer and/or dryer, get my son on the right track to picking up his room, throw some frozen chicken breasts in my NuWave® oven, start making dough in my bread machine for homemade rolls, and then I go pick up the rest of the house. This way I’m actually “doing” multiple things at one time. In an hour or less, my floors are clean, dishes are being done, one load of laundry is ready to be folded, chicken breasts are cooked, dough is ready to go into the oven to bake fresh rolls, house is picked up – and all I need to do is throw a vegetable on the table and we have a complete meal in a clean house.
Do you drive around town? If you have an iPhone, buy the “Say It Mail It” app. This allows you to set up a single email address as default, and with four presses of a button you can record and email an audio file to your virtual assistant with instructions for a task or an answer to a question.
One of my favorite tools is the Reminder app that comes standard with iPhone. I’ve talked to quite a few people who don’t realize how powerful this little app is! You can set up reminders based on the time of day, or even your location. For example, if I need to remember to get milk, I can set up a reminder to tell me the next time I leave the house. After I get about a mile away from my house, my phone dings and the reminder pops up! “Oh, yeah, I need milk!” Using this app gives me peace of mind because I don’t have to “carry” this information around in my head clogging up my energy.
Are you a Google user? If not, you might consider using Google Tasks. You can create task lists, absolutely free. I create a list for Wal-Mart, Groceries, Prayers, and To Do’s. The “Go Task” app is automatically synced with my online list, and when I leave the house I always have these lists with me. I also downloaded the same app on my husband’s phone and we shared our lists with each other. That way when he stops by the store for milk on his way home and wonders if there’s anything else, he can just check the list and it’s all there. Plus, it’s incredibly handy to keep my shopping list on my phone since it’s never more than three feet from me (and I tend to lose my paper lists).
At work I have countless hacks to make my time on the computer as efficient as possible. One of my favorite tools is called Breevy. This is a Windows software (although they make one for Mac, too) that allows you to create abbreviations for phrases you type in all the time.
For example, I run a marketing multi-virtual assistant team. I can’t count the number of tasks I get daily from my many clients. Clients want to know that the task is received as soon as possible. They don’t expect it done immediately (at least I hope not), but they want to feel like someone is sitting there on the other end of the line paying attention. A very fast way to do this is to set up an abbreviation. All I do is type “RERE” and my computer spells out, “Got it and on it!”
I open an email, see the task, type the reply, and click “send” in seconds. The client feels like I’m super on top of things and I barely did anything. I also use this to send welcome emails to new clients, email monthly reports, time reports and more. Just remember the abbreviation, and paragraphs can be typed in a split second with very little effort.
I hope you get the general idea. If you want to get more done in your day, either find out how to do things faster or how to do more at the same time by using technology and tools! Here’s to more staring at trees and less staring at monitors! Thanks, Mom!
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