“Efficiency is doing things right; effectiveness is doing the right things.” -Peter Drucker
Without clear processes, workflow can be a struggle. Without process, simple tasks and ad hoc requests that come out of the blue can stifle progress. At 3Q we’re lucky to have a solid foundation with a clear process, but even great process can be optimized and needs ongoing innovation.
Here are a few simple tactical tips to make mundane tasks more efficient so you can have more time to work on the right things.
Tip #1: Open Your Favorite Websites Automatically
I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that 80% of your time is spent on the same 5-10 websites each day. If this is so, why manually search them again and again at the start of each day?
Each browser has a simple feature to open your Favorite pages upon Start. Let’s take a look-see…
1. Open your Top Websites Open in Chrome.
2. Click on the Horizontal Bars in the upper right and select Settings from the dropdown.
3. From the grouping near the top labeled On Startup, check Open a Series of Pages.
4. When you do this, a new menu will pop open. Copy/paste the set of websites URLs you want to add or, if your browser already has just those pages open, select Use Current Pages.
5. Hit Ok to finish. Woohoo! The next time you reopen Chrome, you’ll have all your top sites without having to wait for them to load when you need them.
1. Have only your Top Websites Open in Firefox.
2. Click on the Horizontal Bars in the upper right and select Options from the dropdown.
3. Then find Homepage from the General Select Use Current Pages to add all current pages to open upon Start.
a. Note: If you have other pages you don’t want to add, you can also copy/paste individually into the single homepage field and then separate URLs with the pipe symbol (i.e. | ) found right above the enter key.
4. Once you’re done, select OK and close out of the menu. Hooray! The next time you reopen Firefox, you’ll have all your sites open without having to wait for them to load when you need them.
Tip #2: Switch Different Search Engines in Just 3 Keystrokes
It’s no surprise SEMs search a lot. I find I’m often searching 10 or more search engines per day. If you’ve ever run eCommerce, you might be a bit above average depending on the CSEs you search on. What if there were a way to switch between search engines in your browser by typing in one letter? Surely, that’d save a lot of time! Luckily it only takes a minute to set up.
Below are a few of the most popular search engines with the Search Query [Dog] typed in for your convenience (you can do this with nearly any search engine).
|Company:||Search Engines: [dog]|
|● Google Search● AdWords Support
|Bing/Yahoo||● Bing Search ● Bing Ads Support|
|Amazon||● Amazon Product Search|
|● Graph Search|
|● Twitter Search|
|● LinkedIn People Search|
|Wikipedia||● Article Search|
For all of these search engines, the search query: dog is contained somewhere within the URL. Below is a screenshot from the AdWords Support results. Now how can you search this faster?
For Chrome: Video Screencast
1. Go to your search engine of choice with a dummy query like dog (or you can use the list I compiled above.)
2. Go to the upper right with the Horizontal bars; check the menu and click
3. Then scroll down to where it says Manage Search Engines.
4. You will then see a menu where you can add a new search engine, like so:
5. Fill in the new search engine info.
-In field 1, Fill in the Search Engine Display name you’d like to see.
-In field 2, fill in a shortcut Keyword. This is the short phrase you’ll type to start searching. I suggest an abbreviation you won’t type often (in other words, don’t use as for AdWords Support) because anytime you type that word followed by a [space bar], you will begin searching that search engine.
-Then in field simply copy/paste in the search engine URL with the dummy search query and replace dog with %s
6. Hit done. Now when you search your abbreviation in the Chrome search bar, you’ll be able to switch search engines in no time.
For Firefox: Video Screencast
1. Search your search engine of choice with a dummy query like dog (or you can use the list I compiled above.)
3. A new Dialog Box will appear; select Most Visited Sites or an Existing Bookmark so that you can then click the Organize Dropdown.
4. Now select create a New Bookmark, and a new dialog box will open.
5. Fill in the following fields (see below)
-Name: Input the name you’d like to formally refer to the Search Engine, in this case AdWords Support.
-Location: Copy paste the URL with the dummy search – in this case dog – and find the area where the url says q=dog and replace with %s
-Tags: Not technically required, but I recommend adding Search Engine Short-Cut so you’ll know which Search Engines you’ve added and have them grouped.
-Keyword: Type in a short phrase to jump to that search engine
-Description: Not required, but you can see a reminder of what needs to be done if you forget.
6.Click Add and close out of the Bookmarks dialog box. Now search your keyword in the Address Bar and hit Tab. Then start searching that Search Engine easily.
Tip #3: Optimize Your Email
Sad to say, but Email and Chat have become the center of workplace interactions. While nothing beats some real-life face time with co-workers and clients, alas our email inboxes are more often the hub of these interactions.
Luckily there are a ton of helpful apps and plug-ins to help out. I’ll be focusing on Gmail, but most of these have Outlook versions as well.
Unroll.me – Unsubscribe en masse.
It happens to the best of us over time: we subscribe to an email newsletter here, an update there, and eventually we are inundated with irrelevant emails. Unroll.me shows you all of your email subscriptions and gives you the option of unsubscribing or rolling up into a newsletter sent Weekly, Monthly etc. When I ran this on my personal “primary email,” I had 127 email subscriptions. Now, voila! Clean as a whistle.
Rapportive: This Gmail plugin gives you more data about the sender based on a lookup of the names and contact info that matches their Social Media profiles. If you’ve just been introduced to someone new or find an unknown CC, Rapportive can be a major time-saver. It is built so you can scope out a LinkedIn title or social media posts so you can get an idea of what’s on their mind.
Boomerang: Did you ask an important question but never heard back? Awaiting approval on the new Search build? In an ever growing sea of email, it is easy for these things to get overlooked. While Boomerang doesn’t necessarily help with the number of emails, it does help you keep track of when something has fallen through the cracks. Once you send an email you have the option to set a Boomerang reminder, so that the email returns to your inbox if no one replies. For example you can say, “If No One Responds by 10:00am Tomorrow then Return this Email to my Inbox for future follow-ups” – maybe by picking up the phone or sending a reminder. Another useful feature is the ability to schedule emails to be sent at a later time.
Bonus ninja tip: Sometimes there are just a ton of distractions around you: noisy client meetings, phone calls etc. That’s where Focus@Will comes in. This isn’t a typical music streaming service; rather it plays music or white noise designed to enhance your concentration and provides a nice boost when it’s crunch time and something needs to get done now. This may be the placebo effect talking, but strange though it sounds, it totally works. I recommend trying Classical music to start, though there are multiple genres available to suit your preferences.