This post was contributed by Fred Mouawad to The Wall Street Journal on 3/7/2015.
In the digital age, there is a stigma that employees overusing the Internet and other digital technologies are less productive than those who don’t spend as much time there.
But according to a recent Pew study, 46% of working adults feel their productivity has increased due to the Internet, email and cell phones. This is likely due to many factors, such as easier and faster communication, the agility of instantaneous information and enriched tools for staying organized and auditing various projects.
As a portfolio entrepreneur, I have found numerous ways to be more productive using technology — below, you’ll find five ways to utilize technology to you, and your business’s, advantage.
In any industry, you will likely attend a multitude of events to generate awareness for your company, meet with other professionals and brainstorm cutting-edge ideas. You do not want these people to forget you — and email is a perfect way to keep track of everyone you have been in touch with. Business cards eventually get lost or thrown away, but once you have established an initial email chain, you will have it stored away forever.
Are they not responding to you as fast as you had hoped? Simply create an alert that reminds you to follow up the next week. Don’t forget the social media tools you can utilize too, like LinkedIn. These ultimately serve the same purpose of one place to easily relocate and keep in touch with those you’ve met in the past. All of this might seems like common knowledge at this point, but spending a little time on communications like this every day can go a long way.
“I Don’t Know” should very rarely be a response in the digital age. When you find yourself without the answer, don’t depend on others to give it to you, at least not at first.
At times, we are so dependent on others for the information we need. Teach yourself and the people that report to you to do the research first and take the five extra minutes to draw your own conclusion. With the Internet, answers are available at our fingertips.
Chances are you’ll remember the information better the next time you need it, and you won’t have filled anyone’s inbox with needless questions. In the long run, the Internet cuts down on the amount of time it takes to find an answer to a problem or question, and increases the amount of execution time.
It’s important to also mention those five minutes you take to peruse your favorite news sites during the day. This is not necessarily a problem. In fact, it can be good for you.
But it’s simply essential not to get lost in it and turn five minutes into 50 minutes. When you finish a task or project, try checking your latest feed for a few minutes after. This will clear your head for the next task and give you a nice mental break.
Organization and execution
One key to staying productive online is to use it as a productivity tool. There are sites to help you track tasks and better manage your day for work and for your well-being. Platforms like myHealthSphere help increase and track healthy activities during your work day. This simple online tool feeds productivity when you’re remembering to take mental breaks and drink water.
Then there is the challenge every manager faces: On any given day, there are a plethora of my own tasks to complete — not counting, of course, overseeing everyone else’s projects. Supervising and keeping an eye on all the employee projects going on has been a consistent challenge I’ve faced in the business world — enter Taskworld, a collaboration platform I created that increases accountability of the people you work with and yourself, transparency (you can easily track deadlines and see who is hitting the mark), and allows for prioritization of tasks so where to start is never a question.
Innovative presentations and pitches
There is a multitude of software programs designed to make your business look like the most innovative one in the world. Gone are the days that a simple slide show would suffice — now, there are platforms that do most of the “flashy” work for you and provide customizable presentations, like Prezi. The design and format of the presentation is there, you just need to add information about your business and goals.
Any business owner knows that as revenue grows, responsibilities also grow. Financial tracking software like Microsoft Dynamics AX allows us to manage finances so you can make more informed decisions in a very minimal amount of time. This enables you to focus more on your business goals, something that might not be possible without this kind of technology.
Any resource that allows employees and business owners to execute a task in half the time it typically takes is something to take advantage of. Technology allows us to think more about the end-goal and less about the smaller, more tedious tasks it takes to get there — do not be afraid to use it. When you find yourself online, just do a check and ask yourself, “Am I using this to benefit my work or well-being today?”