A few weeks ago, I told you about an app that helps you skip the wait-time when calling customer service. However, just because you get to talk to a person faster doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to get what you want. I’ve had amazing customer service, but I’ve also had really horrendous help that leaves me so frustrated. You know what I mean – it can be really hard to keep your cool when the stranger on the other end of the phone is being difficult about their company shipping you the wrong pair of pants.
Recently, a friend told me she heard a statistic that claimed that the average American living in suburbia can spend up to 3 years of their life waiting at traffic lights. I live in NYC so this time-waster doesn’t apply to me directly, but it really got me thinking about how I might be wasting time even in my very productive life. I’ve written before on the basics – laying out your clothes the night before, having a plan for the morning, etc – but I believe that just like goals are achieved by focusing on the small steps, maximum productivity is achieved through shortcuts.
Here are a few of my favorites:
1. Using keyboard shortcuts – The tech experts at brainwave.com estimate that you save 2 seconds per minute when you use keyboard shortcuts (vs. reaching for the mouse). If that doesn’t seem like a lot of time – that 2 seconds per minute adds up to 8 workdays per year – that’s an extra vacation!
You know how it is — you come home, bring in the mail and sift through tons of unwanted ads, credit card deals, flyers and magazines for things you’ll never buy. This paper waste takes up precious counter space and also head space as you sift through it all. It’s so annoying! Sometimes it can sit around for weeks before you can “deal” with it all.
About a month ago, I discovered the solution – PaperKarma. This fabulous little app lets you snap a picture of your junk mail and then they contact the mailer and remove you from their distribution list. Easy, right? That’s why it’s my “Fab Find“this week – because what good are fabulous things if you don’t share them?
I’ve made about 15 requests so far with this app and only one took more than a few seconds to be successful. The nice thing about this app is that they follow up with you because sometimes it can take a few weeks for companies to take you off of their lists. It’s been a great tool that I’ve now made part of my mail-reading routine. I simply open my mail and scan the stuff I don’t want to get any more. Done. Read more
You’re sitting at your desk with a long list of tasks in front of you. It’s only 10 a.m., but you’re already set up for an un-productive day because all you can focus on is the dishes sitting in the sink at home. Maybe you forgot to make lunch for yourself. Or worse, you forgot to make lunch for your family. We all have to find a work-life balance. But just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. Getting some help and cutting down on menial tasks allows you to use your brain and time for more productive endeavors.
Time that isn’t spent benefiting the company is time and money wasted, so many employers actually invest in different ways to keep their employees happy and working hard. Sometimes productivity requires creativity, and these 10 companies took that to heart when developing these awesome policies for employees:
- Never thought 9-5 could work for you? Employees at Netflix don’t work a set schedule. They are instead given a list of tasks to complete and their performance is judged based on how well they complete those tasks.
- Can you only work standing up or in an office that is totally feng-shui? At Asana employees are given $10,000 to customize their workspace.
- I’ve loved Evernote even more when I found out that the company sends a cleaning service to each employees’ home twice a month. Imagine the time you would save if you never had to worry about going home to vacuum!
- Gone are the days where you have to make the choice between working and raising a family. At Facebook, employees are given $3,000 annually to help cover child-care expenses.
- Are you a vegan who loves Tupac in the San Francisco Bay area? Well then pass the Kale Mary! Airbnb provides healthy meals with fun music-themed menus so all employees can eat together!
- Forget about separating your darks and lights if you’re employed at Jib-Jab. This fun company does their employees laundry for them!
- In addition to the many perks Google offers employees, now friends and families of employees can reap the benefits too. Is your daughter visiting you at work today? Take her to lunch at one of Google‘s 16 in-house cafes, all free to employees and guests.
Being productive is not always a lone effort. In my day job and with my interns for this blog, I frequently have to work with a team. Being productive with a team requires collaboration and good communication, but with more people involved there are more opportunities for someone to forget to “reply all.”
Recently my interns and I began using Asana, a web and mobile application, designed by Facebook employees to improve the company’s productivity. We like it because it has allowed us to send fewer emails and it never lets us busy ladies forget anything!
There are a few reasons we think you’ll love it too: