A few years ago, I hired (and continue to consult with) professional organizer and owner of Organize for Success Emily Parks to advise me on ways to become more productive and efficient. This month, Emily will share a few more of the actual tips she introduced to me in our one-on-one sessions in two parts. This first article explores how to organize your digital life, covering password managers and other ways daily tasks can be automated to save you time.
Ed: Emily, as part of the developmental goals I’ve established for both my team and myself, we’re now volunteering on various professional boards and civic committees in an effort to collaborate with other creative teams and business professionals within our local advertising and design community.
So, in addition to my “day job,” I’ve accepted leading one of the local professional associations as well as heading up a civic initiative that involves collaborating with several committees in three different states.
I really enjoy working with new people on projects that are completely different from those I manage in-house. But sometimes, with everything I have to remember and all the new people I’m meeting, I wish I could clone myself! I know you have an active personal life outside of your professional life too, working with several charities and civic organizations. Do some of the busy folks you coach ever feel like they’re stretched thin?
I really believe in my personal projects and the new folks I’ve met who share interests in common with mine. What tools or solutions have you recommended for busy professionals who also have equally busy and enjoyable personal lives that will help maximize strategic thinking and minimize that feeling of being stretched by all their commitments?
Emily: Ed, you’re absolutely right, there are times when all busy professionals feel like they’re stretched thin—especially when juggling and remembering the deadlines of all their commitments—both professional and personal. As an in-house leader and active volunteer, you (like many others) have the added responsibility of managing both the people and processes that produce a wide range of internal corporate projects as well as external events and charitable initiatives.
The daily grind can make us all seriously consider cloning ourselves, however, until cloning technology catches up with our immediate demands, there are more realistic and cost-effective alternatives that can easily help out.
As more and more professional and personal time is spent online, it becomes increasingly important to use a diverse set of strong passwords. As your list of similar or varied passwords grows, the harder it is to remember them all. Choosing to employ a password manager to generate, save and autofill your various logins means you no longer need to keep track of every login detail. Instead, the password manager’s master password is the only one you need to remember and protect.
Plus, as you’re considering the complexities of your digital afterlife and a digital estate plan, this one password is the only such login that you need to make available to your successors. A few great password management options include LastPass, SplashID, 1Password, Roboform and Dashlane.
On a similar note, it is equally important to consider a cloud-based back-up solution. Computers crash, fires can destroy your devices, viruses wipe out data … we’ve all experienced the sting of data loss. You can be prepared when emergencies happen with an automated remote storage solution.
Gone are the days in which you must remember to plug an external hard drive into your computer at the end of each workday. Instead, with a cloud-based back-up solution, simply “set it” and “forget it.”
While online file repositories like Dropbox, Google Drive, Box and OneDrive can provide cloud back-up solutions, you can reach optimum success with the automated options of Carbonite, CrashPlan and Mozy, which I recommend using in tandem with the aforementioned manual online file repository solutions.
And don’t stop automating with just your cloud-based back-up solution. There are tools available to help you establish “recipes” for automated functionality too. In each instance, you determine what trigger action will initiate a resulting action by pairing together various online tools.
For example, you can program for each of your new followers on Twitter to receive an invitation to connect on LinkedIn. You can create a recipe that will alert you by text message, notifying you each night when the weather forecast calls for rain the next day. You can star certain emails in your Gmail account to be added to your Evernote database. Also, you can save all email attachments automatically to your Dropbox account.
Thinking outside the box for new tools to bring even greater success can be vital for thriving, rather than just surviving. What alternatives to cloning have you found most successful in boosting your productivity?
Make your in-house team even stronger and more productive with the Essentials for Building a Powerhouse Creative Team. Learn even more from Ed Roberts and other in-house experts.
About Emily Parks
Emily Parks, owner of Organize for Success, is a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers & the Institute for Challenging Disorganization as well as a graduate of the Institute for Professional Organizers. With a background in automotive marketing and college sports operations, Emily provides confidential, one-on-one consulting (in-person or via Skype) and team training, helping you increase efficiency, boost productivity, accomplish more in less time, quickly locate what you need when you need it and maximize your physical space for optimal output.