Today time is more valuable than ever and we will fight to get more of it as well as complain when we don’t have enough of it. Time is a valuable commodity and we need to do whatever we can to make the most of our time when working or seeking to improve our businesses.
Most of us – if not all – are on the lookout for ways to make more efficient use of our time, whether it is saving time or accomplishing more in a given period of time. For those who – like me – are constantly on the go, we have no choice.
As a busy public relations and marketing firm owner I am always on the run. I want to share with you some time-saving apps and strategies that I use on a regular basis to assist me to be more efficient and effective.
People who are pressed for time are not always the best typists. We rush and it is hard to type very fast on a mobile device. I have found that dictation, a tried and true business efficiently activity, can be easily adopted in the mobile environment. If I need to write a letter, a lengthy email or a blog, I use apps on my phone to record myself – often when I am driving, on the train, waiting for a meeting or on the road between meetings. When I am on the road, I do not have a place to sit down and type but I can hammer out a lot of content rather quickly verbally. Every smart phone has applications that can be used for recording. There are services that, for a fee, will then convert that audio content into written text.
I use SpeakWrite, a dictation app and service, as well as the voice memo application of my smartphone. Dragon (you may be familiar with Dragon Naturally Speaking) can also be helpful, although I have found that it is challenging to work with and it can be expensive.
SpeakWrite translates your dictation (mp3 file) into text. The file is then uploaded to the company website. The company processes the audio and cleans it up in terms of some structure and spelling before returning it to you relatively quickly. The caveat though is that there are fees involved with this and if it is a long dictation, it can cost between $30, $40, $50 or more. Check with www.speakwrite.com for pricing and services. However, the goal here is to save time. By saving time we save money and this activity gives us the opportunity to literally do two things at once. We can be in a meeting while the document is being created. After the meeting you have the convenience of having the text waiting for you when you return to your office or right on your website. Now all you have to do is edit the document and you are finished, a great time saver.
The other option is to find a manual service that will take your audio file and return the text to you typed up. If you have flexibility in the timeframe for returning the script, the fee will be much less. All you need to do is edit the text file and again count the time you have saved.
Text Reading Software Apps
Do you have a lot of articles or blogs that you want to read, but just don’t have time? This is a problem I have but I have found a fun and easy solution. I use Natural Reader Pro, which can take a PDF, Word document or other formatted content and read it back to me. It also has a desktop application, which is great if you are not an outstanding proofreader. It is a valuable timesaver, especially if you are working by yourself. It is also available on mobile devices.
This is my hack: copy and paste an article’s text or a PDF magazine clipping or letter that you can send to yourself as an attachment and the software will read it back to you. It is like converting written articles into podcasts because you can fast-forward, pause, rewind and choose different voices.
Taking this approach allows me to listen to a large amount of content via my smartphone while I am doing other activities such as driving to meetings, doing work around the house, walking or exercising. Again, I am able to do two activities at the same time, allowing me to be more efficient. This allows me to read the dozens of magazine articles that I cannot read otherwise because I simply do not have time. In just one hour in the car I can listen to a dozen articles, expand my knowledge base to better serve my clients and find strategies to improve my business.
Social Media Scheduling
It is valuable to create your own fresh, original content and be “real” in your interactions with people on social media. It is important to be both a listener and an engager. If you are blogging and sharing your content online, scheduling posts is a good strategy, but scheduling should be intermixed with ongoing social posts and other activities.
Sites like Hootsuite, Gremlin and Tweetdeck allow you to schedule posts whenever you want to so you have control over your social media strategy. Depending on your business – a mattress company, for example – you may want to post late at night to reach those restless sleepers. Scheduling means that you don’t have to do real time posting. The combination approach for the most part is the best way to get content out. However, do not publish too much content, especially if you can not react to likes, retweets or comments.
Some services offer the option of recurring posts within a specified period of time or for a specific number of times. These are also a good time savers. However, with any scheduled post – watch out for these as there are risks associated with this strategy. For example, scheduled posts can hit at inappropriate times, i.e. during a national crisis. If you are posting robotically when something bad is happening it can make you look uncaring. You must have the ability to quickly shut off scheduled or recurring posts.
These are examples of the ways you can use mobile applications and sites to save you time and become more efficient. I am a busy Public Relations firm owner and father of twins. I have a very hectic schedule; I am in New York City and Long Island working with clients, attending events and communicating with the media. I use these activities and tools to create a system that makes me more time efficient.
Look for ways to optimize your time while in transit or involved in other activities. If you have any time-saving hacks, please share them with me, I would love to hear about them and share them with others.