Productivity Tools and how they can help you in your [marketing] profession

July 15, 2008

In the recent months, I’ve been on the road for business quite a bit. I’ve discovered, with a little help from a few friends, some great websites and resources to help me survive my busy schedule and the demands of my new profession. I want to share those findings with you now.

While I love technology, I’m not a technorati for the sake of being one. The tools I adopt have to serve a particular need in my life at that moment. .. When I started traveling a lot for business, my family began pestering me about my flight and hotel schedule. I would forward my itinerary to them once I got it via email. Sometimes I would forget. Then I found this great website called TripIt. com. I signed up by sending an email to their email address and within minutes (no exaggeration here), all of my 14+ itineraries were organized. All I had to do was forward my itinerary, be it from the airline, the hotel, or the car rental agency, to plans@tripit. com, and they were automatically uploaded into my profile. How cool is that? This website allowed me to become organized and let me share my plans with various individuals. The cool thing is that I can now upload any of my upcoming trips as soon as they are finalized and share that info via tripit. com. And, since I can give access to certain individuals about my upcoming trips, I don’t have to worry about forwarding any emails. If my itinerary changes, all the changes take place at one location. This is a really awesome tool and has helped me improve my organization and productivity tremendously. And even cooler, you can access the info via your PDA, and tripit provides local weather info as an extra. If only they would keep track of my frequent flier and hotel stay points all in one spot as well — that would really make my day!

The next one is a book called “Getting Things Done” by David Allen. While business school taught me a lot about organizational behavior, human behavior, leadership, operations, finance, marketing, etc. , the one thing that was still a big black hole for me was efficiency. I heard the phrase “drinking out of a fire hose” quite a bit during b-school. But no one really taught me how to organize all that knowledge coming out of a fire hose. How to keep sane as a manager; how to manage myself while I managed others; or manage thirty different projects all at once? I read the book in bits and pieces last year, until I was finally ready to adopt its complete philosophy this past January. And not to sound like a cult member of the book’s following or anything, but by adopting the methods described by David Allen, I have really improved my work-life balance. Allen focuses on action management and gives the reader logical advice on how to organize simple things such as your file folders, email inboxes and subfolders, your electronic files, and so on. Yes, this might be simple and mundane and maybe even just plain old common sense, but you’d be surprised at how disorganized most people are which leads to their subsequent mental failure in times of critical decision making. By following Allen’s simple rules, I’ve managed to organize my physical file folders, my email and sub-folders, and am in the midst of organizing my electronic file folders. Even with the hundreds of tasks that I have to attend to on a daily basis, I have been successful at staying organized and on top of everything without feeling overwhelmed. The biggest secret that I took away from the book was about keeping my inbox empty. As one of the individuals at the center of action, I receive a large amount of email on a daily basis with requests for this or that. If I sat and responded to all the email, it would take up half the day, every day, leaving me with little time for anything else. With specific strategies from the book that I’ve implemented, I have managed to improve my productivity several fold and still found time to enjoy the family and other “life” activities. With that said, I’m glad to report that at any given time, I have no more than 20 messages in my inbox. Just that simple activity alone brings me to nirvana. I highly recommend this book for your own sanity!

The third really cool tool/website I found is wordle. com which essentially strips information from an article or paper and creates “word clouds”. It’s not perfect, but it’s a really cool tool to try and adopt forpresentations or for getting complicated ideas across in a visual format. Check it out!

I want to tell you about two other websites that are good for productivity enhancements: evernote. com and jott. com. I haven’t really used them to their full extent, but I see huge potential for those websites in my life in the near future. They have both been around for a while. My husband who is a tech junkie told me about them about a year ago and it’s only now that I’m resurrecting his old emails and looking into the websites for my own use. Evernote is like a multi-media post-it note that lets you capture anything and everything whenever and wherever you are. Suppose you saw something and you wanted to remember it. Traditionally you’d write it down on a post-it; that post-it might get lost or it might float around from one place on your desk to another. Well, with evernote, you can send an email to your evernote account about the thing you want to remember, you can even send a picture. You tag it and organize it. It’ll always be there for your remembrance.

I’m still a little iffy about jot. com but it’s worth mentioning. Jott is basically a tool that “converts your voice into emails, text messages, reminders, lists and appointments,” as the website states. This has potential for the person on the go, but I’m not sure if it’s for me.

Finally, mobile maps from google. I have a love-hate relationship with google, but this one is a “love” one: Who needs a Garmin when you’ve got google maps on your PDA? Now, if only google maps would talk to me and give me the low-down on all the parking spots near my destination before I arrive. Now that would be something to write home about! !

I wonder — is there such a thing as too many productivity tools? What is the inflection point at which productivity enhancements convert into productivity hindrances? A penny for your thoughts. Until next time…yours truly — ‘startupmarketingdiva’.

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