Days like today, I feel wildly far from optimal time management and then, I think of the wise words someone said, ”We don’t manage time, we manage ourselves.”‘
Anyone who has ever tried to achieve something and had to leave their comfort zone in order to so, knows that managing ones-self is easier said than done. When we leap too big, take on too much, we can feel ourselves losing self-control.
I often feel the art of finding balance means we fall off a few times before we find it. In dance for example, we may find ourself falling to the left, then leaning to the right, then falling back before we find our center. Life is a lot like dance.
So, while I am looking for balance and I seem to be leaning too far into my work life, I begin to appreciate my favorite technologies and how they help me with my personal kaizen. Kaizen is more than just continuous small improvements, it’s also about efficiency and eliminating excess or waste, and today I’d like to share some of my favorite technologies that do exactly that!
They aid in productivity, organization, efficiency, and reduce waste and more importantly they help me keep the juggling balls in the air as I struggle for my balance.
7 Kaizen Tools
1. Google Documents - With Google Docs you have a great Calendar that allows you to actually setup as many calendars as you’d like, and have them all appear so you can see your entire schedule – or have them completely separate. I have one that I share with G, I also have one for dance and one work. I can choose to see all three together or just see one at a time and I can switch views depending on what I want to see. It’s a great way to share part of your calendar with others. You might share part with family (your family calendar) and part with coworkers (your professional calendar). Best of all, you can access your calendar anywhere where there is internet access that means your cell phone, or any computer!
The other part of Google Documents is the “documents,” there are several document types such as one much like Microsoft word, and a spreadsheet like excel etc.. You can have some just for yourself and you can share specific ones with others. When you create a document (or after you created one) you can include the email address of the person you want to share it with. Just like Google calendar this is free and portable. You can access it anywhere there is internet access.
To access Google Documents you need a Google account, which is free. You can obtain one by signing up for Google’s email account called G-mail. Once you are in your G-mail you’ll see on the top “Calendar” and “Documents.”
2. Evernote - You can have Evernote on your smart phone and your computer, and it automatically syncs the information. If you copy a recipe from the internet on your computer (using Evernote) it will also appear on your phone. This means you have access to the ingredients while you’re at the grocery store! How brilliant is that? You can have your task like, notes, web pages, and photos all on your Evernote and like Google Documents; it’s available wherever there is internet access. It’s a great way to stay organized. Evernote is a great service that gives you the option between free and premium. I use the free version now and it’s perfect
3. Smart Phone - The iphone, droid and blackberry are the most popular smart phones, but there are several available. I’ve been using a smart phone for the last four years and I can’t imagine life without it. It’s a fantastic way to keep organized! They have so many features including task lists, timer, email ability, internet access; ability to have Google Docs and Evernote on the go, of course there’s also the camera and video too. And with all the available apps you can have language translation, GPS navigation, maps it’s endless! What I love most about them is they allow me to be mobile and away from the office while not being away from important data.
4. Timer - Timers keep me on schedule. They’re wonderfully efficient and they help me not waste time. When I’m working on the computer I love tick tock timer and its lovely gong sound. When I need a timer and I’m out and about, I use the one on my phone. Without them I’m apt to lose track of time and with them I can stay on target.
5. TIVO (DVR) – Although I don’t really watch TV there are some shows I like and would like to watch if I had more time. Glee, American Idol, Dancing With The Stars, So You Think You Can Dance, House Hunters International are my top ones. Simply by capturing these shows on the DVR, I feel relaxed knowing I can watch them at some later date. I don’t get to see them all of course, but it helps me not to feel bad that I miss them all, because I have the feeling that I can watch them. On the occasion that I watch an episode, I choose one and fast forward through the commercials and kept my TV time to a minimum. It’s wonderfully efficient.
6. PDF Creator - This is great for reducing paper waste! I’d like to be “paperless” one day, and although I’m not there yet this PDF creator helps me get there. Whenever I have a receipt online, or anything else I’d like to print just to have a copy of – this is brilliant. I press the print button and it creates a PDF that I save in a folder in my documents. Yes, if you are going this route then it is important to have a backup of your documents in case anything where to happen to your computer. An external hard drive (or two) is a great choice. There are also online services that you can use to back up your data. What I love about my PDF creator is I can feel like I have a copy for my records, and not have to use paper to do so.
7. Fujitsu Scanner ScanSnap S1500 - This is one of G’s favorites. When he first bought it I didn’t understand why, since I already had a functioning scanner, which is about ten years old and extremely slow, but now I get it. With this particular scanner you can have a pile of pages to scan and it feeds them in one after the other and can handle double sided simultaneously. Since it comes with Adobe Acrobat it can then automatically save as a pdf for easy viewing and storage. It’s incredibly fast and it’s a small machine, which leaves plenty of room on the desk. This speedy scanner saves a chunk of time and reduces paper filing.
Each one of these technologies do their part to make life more streamlined, more efficient, save time, reduce waste and keep me organized.
Sometimes life can be overwhelming and as we move toward our dreams and take on the challenges that come along with it – it’s nice to have some obstacles removed from our path. These are simply seven technologies that serve as small steps towards freeing me from being bogged down as I continue to seek that elusive thing called life balance.
Hope they help you too!