Productivity Tips Based On Technology

Posted: December 22, 2010

Women and Technology are not strangers, despite some commonly held misconceptions. Here are some productivity tips, making best use of technology.

By Jyoti Bhargava

Having begun working early, I’ve always adopted varied ways to stay organized. If previously my efficiency was due to my ability to manage multiple to-do-lists, now it’s my comfort with gadgets that connects me to my tasks. Here I’m sharing my productivity eco-system to give you some easily available tools can enhance one’s task management abilities.




The Hardware Requirements

My current range of hardware in use includes a netbook, a smartphone, a portable media device and an e-book reader. If you find them too many, let me assure you that each has its comfortable place in my life.

Netbooks (such as the Eee PC1000H I use) are highly portable and compact. My machine’s 80 GB hard disk meets my data storage needs amply, and the fact that it doesn’t have a CD ROM is not a big constraint in my networked home where I use a desktop as a server. Small-sized business notebooks cost a phenomenal amount so I’ve felt great about acquiring this portable computer for less than Rs25,000 as it allows me to write, surf, store media, and basically have fun along with doing serious work.

A smartphone can enable effective task management apart from being a phone. I find the QWERTY keypad of my phone hugely rewarding, as it speeds up my typing of messages or tweets. In addition, its emailing capability allows me to share photos clicked through its camera, rather than wait to get to a computer. I could use the phone to manage my tasks, calendar, browse email, take notes et al but I find the interface of my hand-held media device more intuitive for these functions.

The iPod Touch is that – a multi-faceted portable media device that is my constant companion because of its wide ranging application in task management. I use it to : read and respond to email from 3 email accounts; network through Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter ; stay organized with Google Calendar; access my address database through Google Contacts; read documents/PDFs saved in my online data storage accounts (such as Dropbox, Simple-note or Google Docs); maintain to-do- and shopping lists; browse Internet resources; read my RSS feeds; watch YouTube videos; download and read e-books in situations where my e-book reader isn’t with me; listen to free audiobooks from Librivox or to purchased audiobooks; enjoy music, podcasts or Internet radio stations; watch stored videos; scribble down phone numbers or other notes; do crossword and other word puzzles…I know, it’s a long list. The reason for sharing it is to highlight the point of such a device being a hand-held computer and not just the media player that it is to many youngsters.

An e-book reader (Kindle, in my case) encourages one to draw a line between work-based and leisured reading. Of course, its capability to read PDFs positions it as a work-based device as well but I like to treat it as a regular book that one can relax with. I totally revel in its ability to find meanings of words as I come across them, or make notes of various kinds without using physical bookmarks or pencil markings as I would do with a paper book.

The Software Requirements

Internet connection. Without a stable Internet (Net) connection, most of my productivity measures would be rendered ineffective. Clearly, if some of our data is on the Net, the Net should be available to us. My advice to anyone working from home is to have an unlimited-use broadband connection for use at home, and a datacard for travel.

Google account. A free Google account doesn’t just provide email service – it’s a smart way to manage multiple functions. I use my gmail id to subscribe to heavy traffic-oriented usergroups, and Google Calendar , Contacts, Tasks, Reader, Docs or GTalk that are offered as a bouquet of services, for their intended purpose. These applications synchronize with their counterparts on most mobile devices, allowing one to access important data any time. In particular, it helps that an online Calendar application such as Google Calendar can be shared with other individuals to aid collaboration or can be set to send an sms for appointments without charging its user for it.

IM and Skype. An Instant Messenger is a great tool to communicate with team members working from different locations. This fact is known to most computer users. What some may not know is that instead of using multiple Messenger clients (for MSN, Yahoo, GTalk), they can use a universal chat client such as Pidgin for all their accounts, as I do. Skype isn’t generally my preferred way to chat online, but since it has many admirers for its voice/video/typed chats, I’ve indeed opened a free Skype account to access those on my contact list who use it.

To-do-list. I’ve been such a list-oriented person all my work life that I maintain them even during my holidays. I’ve a daily list, a long-term list and also event-specific lists. This doesn’t stop me from procrastinating but through my lists, I know what it is I’m deferring and that job remains on my radar. Currently, I’m using a combination of Tasks under Google Calendar and a paper diary to track my tasks.

Document management. If we’re to consider only a limited aspect of managing one’s documents here, i.e., to access them seamlessly between multiple devices or share them with team members without losing much time, sites such as Dropbox or Simple-note can be used instead of emailing files repeatedly. Google Docs, in addition, can be used to not only store documents, but also have others view or edit them in real time.

About the Author: Jyoti Bhargava began her tryst with full-time work at age 18 and attained her liberation from it at 30 as she became a mother. Early orientation to structured work taught her to be organized-a skill that helps her greatly in her current incarnations as an independent Human Resources Consultant, part-time business manager and full-time mother. She’d love to broaden her thinking further by knowing the methods you’ve used to stay productive. Please leave your comments here or reach her at jyoti at jdesignlab.com

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