7 Fabulous Kaizen Technologies To Help Streamline Your Life

by Aileen

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.


For the PC: Fujitsu ScanSnap S1500 Instant PDF Sheet-Fed Scanner for PC

For the Mac: Fujitsu ScanSnap S1500M Instant PDF Sheet-Fed Scanner for the Macintosh

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!

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{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

Living the Balanced Life February 10, 2011

Thanks for sharing these tools. I have hear alot about Evernote, I guess I should go give it a try. And the scanner? I love that it will scan both sides at a time!
Bernice
Living the Balanced Life´s last [type] ..How to reach the finish line

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Aileen February 10, 2011

Hi Bernice. I had heard of Evernote and yet I was still maintaining lists on my phone and on paper – it felt like a juggling act. I can’t believe how many ways it helps to keep organized. – and it’s intuitive – I didn’t need a manual or a tutorial – and it’s free!
Let me know what you think about it after you use it. I’m curious to hear how you like it,

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Cristina - Positively Beauty February 10, 2011

That’s a great round-up of time-savings tips, thanks for sharing. I didn’t know the Timer website, it’s brilliant! Love the GONG sound at the end :)
Cristina – Positively Beauty´s last [type] ..On style and elegance- and an award

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Aileen February 10, 2011

Hi Cristina, I like tick-tock-timer better than my oven timer :) so my laptop comes into the kitchen so I have the gong sound. I know it may sound silly, but it creates a more peaceful environment – especially because I’m not a great cook so a peaceful environmental makes cooking a less stressful adventure.
:)

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Ajen February 10, 2011

Hope you don’t mind me jumping in here, … OK… so Aileen, I thought that I was the only one. LOL. On those days where I feel a bit ungrounded, I would literally bring my laptop all over the house just to keep me on track. I never thought of having it on my phone. I am of to bookmark it, right now. Also, I am going to check out the scanner and see if there is a function that can copy receipts and organize the information on excel. Thanks for posting!
Ajen´s last [type] ..Three Technically Six Fun Exercises to Describe Who You Are

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Aileen February 11, 2011

LOL – YAY Ajen, I love that you bring your laptop all over the house too! :) Sometimes it feels like crazy gymnastics to just stay on top of things on those ungrounded days. – But better to be a little crazy than just stick our heads in the sand and wait for a clear minded day. :)

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Ron Toledo February 10, 2011

Hello Aileen,
This is Ron from Evernote. I came across your post and really enjoyed reading about how these 7 tools are helping streamline your life. Glad to see you included Evernote, great to hear its working out for you. I noticed you also included Fujitsu Scanners. Evernote is actually integrated really nicely with Fujitsu, you can scan directly from their scanners into Evernote, You can find more about our partnership here. http://blog.evernote.com/2010/05/12/get-a-scansnap-scanner-and-fujitsu-will-buy-you-an-evernote-premium-account/
Let me know if you have an questions.
-ron

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Aileen February 10, 2011

Hi Ron, how wonderful of you to stop by!
I didn’t know Evernote integrated with Fujitsu – BRILLIANT! – and thank you for that link. I’m going to add it in the post so others can find it too.

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John Sherry February 10, 2011

True, all true Aileen. I’ve just become more time protective and mobile living supportive by moving my main e-mail to Gmail and putting docs on Google Docs. Next is the netbook with webcam to go with the smart phone I have meaning I’m not tied to home and I can switch off and on when I want and choose to. After all, as we all should ask, whose life is it? Love this Kaizen with-a-modern-twist post. More, more!!!
John Sherry´s last [type] ..The Humour Tumour

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Aileen February 10, 2011

Hi John, how exciting you’re becoming super mobile! I can see you with a superman cape and your netbook.
Thanks for your suggestion – I will do more “Kaizen with-a-modern-twist”

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John Sherry February 11, 2011

I was thinking more Hong Kong Phooey myself ;)
John Sherry´s last [type] ..The Humour Tumour

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Aileen February 11, 2011

LOL John Sherry, starring as Hong Kong Phooey :)

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Louise February 11, 2011

I found the “7 Kaizen Tools” very impressive. I need to get crackin’ on the Google Docs very soon. Great info. thanks.

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Aileen February 11, 2011

I’m glad you found it helpful. It’s pretty amazing how these things can help us juggle and keep in motion – little steps to freedom :)

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Steve-Personal Success Factors February 11, 2011

Another timer I use when I’m working, to keep me focused, is found at e.ggtimer.com
It’s free! :) And this is not totally related, but I love it: http://www.loseit.com is a great place to track your calories and lose weight :)
Steve-Personal Success Factors´s last [type] ..Live Life to the Full!

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Aileen February 14, 2011

Hi Steve. Thank you for sharing those links – they look great!

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Andrea DeBell - britetalk February 11, 2011

Hi Aileen! Awesome tips. I’ve used the timer before and I really like it. I’m kind of tempted by the scanner. It seems that it would I would save a lot of physical storage space by doing it all online. I’ll probably have to rethink my filing system. :) I’ll also try Google Docs and Evernote. It looks like I’m a bit behind the times. Loving blessings!
Andrea DeBell – britetalk´s last [type] ..The Danger of Being Selective with our Relationships

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Aileen February 14, 2011

Hi Andrea. Moving from a paper filing system to electronic was a huge challenge for me. I’ve been slowly transitioning from the paper world into the digital world over the last 3 years, but I’m glad I spent the time and went through the process, because I feel so wonderfully mobile now and it’s much easier for me to feel a bit less paper cluttered. It’s been a long tedious transition, but liberating :)

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Angela Artemis/Powered by Intuition February 12, 2011

Aileen,
I love all your tips! I especially love all the ways you offer to go paperless. I’m drowning in a sea of papers! I imagine most people feel the same way. There’s just too much to keep track of in our lives. You’ve given me some terrific solutions here for that. I must learn how to get the most out of Google. Thank you – thank you!!!
Angela Artemis/Powered by Intuition´s last [type] ..The Amazing Benefits of Laughter Yoga

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Aileen February 14, 2011

Hi Angela, I’m happy you found this useful! I definitely know the feeling of drowning in a sea of papers – ahh all too well, I know that feeling. For a while I doubled my process with both paper and digital for calenders, documents everything – until I became comfortable with the digital form.

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Clearly Composed February 12, 2011

This is such a wonderfully helpful post and just the nudge I needed to start getting to know Evernote better. I have never played with Google Docs and am looking forward to checking it out too. Thanks so much for passing along awesome tips! :)
Clearly Composed´s last [type] .. Happy Valentine’s Life!

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Aileen February 14, 2011

Hi Emma, I hope you enjoy getting to know Evernote and all it can do. Glad you found this helpful :)

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Tess The Bold Life February 13, 2011

Hi Aileen,
Paperless? Is it possible for someone like me? I’m completely overwhelmed by technology right now. Yet I was thinking, How would me life be different if I took one of these on one at a time for the next seven weeks? I think that makes it doable. I also think I’ll begin with the timer!!!
Tess The Bold Life´s last [type] ..A Hit List of Supportive Bloggers

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Aileen February 14, 2011

Hi Tess. I never thought I’d ever be paperless (and I’m still not totally there just yet). It was alarming when I looked at my 2009 planner and saw how it became increasing empty and 2010 was almost all empty as I slowly migrated over to the Google Calendar. I had a huge challenge with technology for a long, long time – I didn’t understand it and found it overwhelming.
Taking one little helpful piece at a time helps ease the feeling of overwhelm – and it can feel liberating. The timer is a great place to start and Google’s calendar too – it’s really neat how it can be shared and partially shared :)

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Belinda February 16, 2011

This is fabulous, Aileen! I do love my smartphone and rely on goggledocs and PDF creator from time to time and can’t imagine life without it. My only caveat is it’s unsettling when systems fail. Not too long ago, our server was down and I felt like life was in a holding pattern. Hopefully it won’t happen too often.

Great post on practical tech tools.

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Lance February 21, 2011

Aileen,
I used Google Docs calendar feature last year when I was training for my marathon, to give my coach an I a way to keep track of workouts – and it worked wonderfully! I’m also all for getting rid of paper – so a PDF creator is an excellent thing, too!

Another tool that I’ve found to be extremely useful (and it’s free!) is Dropbox. Dropbox lets me create a folder on my computer – and whatever I put into that Dropbox folder, gets synced onto the Internet. I can then set up Dropbox on another computer (like my laptop) or smart phone – and when I login to my Dropbox account, the files on the second computer (or smart phone) in its Dropbox folder are the files I synced on the first compuer. And…it all happens automatically, as long as I save them in the Dropbox folder!!
Lance´s last [type] ..I Just Want To Be Heard

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cailen February 23, 2011

thanks for the tip about google documents. i’m going to have to check that out! anything to help simplify work life : )
cailen´s last [type] ..just breathe

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Thea Easterby | Write Change Grow March 17, 2011

Hi Aileen
Thanks for this great list. I am a bit of a technophobe so I will definitely learn a lot from exploring this ist and the attached links.
Cheers
Thea

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Aileen March 21, 2011

Hi Thea. I too was once a technophobe, so I understand completely! I found that exploring them one at time and taking an exploitative approach helped a lot. Otherwise, it can be overwhelming :)

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P.K.parasher August 18, 2012

Hi Ailen
Thanks for giving useful tips to maintain balanced lifestyle .Kindly advise how to manage time management.

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Katia August 28, 2015

A well written post, I just passed this onto a
workfellow who was doing somewhat analysis on this.

And he certainly bought me dinner mainly because I found it for him.
Katia´s last [type] ..Katia

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