“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
Google is my go to for EVERYTHING. A few years ago I realized that thanks to Google no question is ever unanswered. Every curiosity is met with pages and pages of powerful answers, interesting tidbits and fun facts. Even though I use Google daily, my use is pretty simplistic, so I really appreciated the article I found on Hubspot. I only listed 8 of the 12 tips they offered because a few of them did not work for me. Additionally, Google no longer provides the phone-listing feature as they received too many user complaints. The following are tips to be more efficient and productive when you are “Googling” for information.
- Explicit Phrase: Searching for a phrase as opposed to single words is a more efficient way of specifying what you are looking for. To search for phrases, the phrase must be in quotes.Example: “photography equipment”
- Exclude words: If you want to search for photography equipment but do not want photography equipment advertising, you can exclude advertising by typing it this way:
Example: “photography equipment” – advertising
- Site-specific search: Lets say I want to search for Cannon Macro Lens on the Best Buy website. As opposed to running the search on Best Buy’s website, I can use Google to go directly to the page I need:
Example: “canon macro lenses” site:www.bestbuy.com
- Similar words with Synonyms: Let’s say you want to include similar words in your search without coming up with them yourself. Simply use the “~” symbol in front of the word.
Example: “attorney” ~professional
- Specific Document Types: When looking for a specific type of file use the modifier “filetype”. If you are looking for PowerPoint presentations on a specific topic search for it this way:
Example: “internet marketing” filetype:ppt
- Stock (Ticker Symbol): Google provides a quick thumbnail chart of any publicly traded stock. Simply enter the valid ticker symbol in the search field:
- Calculator: No need to search for a calculator on your phone, desk, or computer. Simply type in the calculation you need and Google’s built in calculator will provide the answer.
Example: 3456 * 789
- Word Definitions: Google provides a built-in dictionary for words or phrases.
I’m apparently on a productivity kick this summer. I found another great article from Entrepreneur.com recommending increasing productivity and focus by eliminating nine specific tasks.
- Don’t overload your to-do list. If you are like me, and love checking things off a list it’s important to make sure the list isn’t overwhelmingly long. If you have too many items that don’t get completed one is likely to feel overwhelmed and stressed out as opposed to productive and organized.
- No open-ended meetings. As opposed to wasting half the day on a meeting, create an agenda with three priority topics at the top to avoid getting sidetracked by other issues.
- Stop answering repetitive questions. If you find you answer the same questions repeatedly create a FAQ page on and offline to answer those questions without interrupting your day.
- Stop taking the same follow-up approach if people ignore it. If you send someone emails they do not respond to, stop emailing them. Instead try another communication method such as phone, text or visiting in person.
- Stop eating lunch at your desk. This one got me as I nearly always have lunch at my desk. The short break to eat allows one to clear their head and possibly get fresh ideas.
- Stop making regular visits to the post office. Schedule mail pickups from your business or home office. You can also buy envelopes with pre-paid postage or invest in an inexpensive scale and postage printer.
- Stop making piles. Again, guilty as charged. Instead of piles whose logic is only known to you, use a systematic filing system and eliminate paper you do not need.
- Stop scheduling appointments by phone or email. Software such as Appointment Quest will allow people to schedule appointments with you online.
- Stop signing every check. Designate a specific day and time for tasks such as check signing so they do not interrupt workflow.
Let me know if you have any ideas to stay focused, productive and get more accomplished during the business day.
I cannot count the days I have spent busy and yet unsure what I got done at days-end. I complained there were simply not enough hours in the day but those lost hours could be found with better productivity. I am not alone. A workplace productivity survey from the creators of Office Time found 64% of people spend up to 1 hour on social networking sites; 40% spend an average of 1 to 3 hours dealing with email; 34% spend 30 minutes to an hour procrastinating. SmallBizTrends.com offered 4 great tips to improve productivity I found helpful so I wanted to pass them along.
- Create a plan. The article suggests sitting down every Sunday at the computer and structure the upcoming week. Prioritize the items by day and week and make sure to incorporate time for family or friends to avoid burn out.
- Schedule Email. I know this and yet am as guilty as anyone else. The article suggests scheduling time to respond to email, as opposed to allowing your inbox to interrupt you all day long. Try 20 minutes before lunch, and again at the end of the day but avoid the inbox at the start of your day. Knocking a few things off your plate before hitting the inbox may set up better momentum for the rest of the day.
- Find Accountability Tools. This is especially important if you charge by the hour but even if you don’t accountability is essential. Tools such as Harvest, Toggl, and OfficeTime will allow you to time track and analyze how you spent your time. Each of these offer free trials and apps for your smartphone. Tracking my time with these tools not only kept me on track but caused me to rethink engaging in the little distractions that add up.
- Identify & Limit Distractions. Whenever my email beeps I get distracted. Chats on social media create the same situation. I keep my mobile phone email notification turned off so I am not interrupted every time an email arrives. For me it’s Facebook. I am a Facebook junkie. I used to keep the window open all day but now I only open it twice a day. I miss my Facebook peeps but I’m getting a lot more done. Be on the lookout for the distractions in your day and consider how you can diminish or eliminate them.
Let me know if you have any suggestions or distractions you want to share.
Real success is finding your lifework in the work that you love. ~David McCullough