There are many tools that can help you to increase your efficiencies and after you’ve evaluated and implemented methods to improve your execution it is time to review tools.  In my experience before you make any type of tool selection you must first clearly understand and define the requirements along with the value, or benefits, related to those requirements.  Selecting a tool because its popular does not mean that the tool will deliver on the requirements and bring you the value.  You must select a tool, or tools, that meet your needs, this can have a dramatic impact on improving your efficiencies.  Based on my own experience with tool selection I do not think I’m over dramatizing the importance of selecting the right tools.

I think that the selection of tools available is becoming more varied and robust with the explosion of social and collaborative tools.  These tools make your selection process a little more difficult simply because there are so many tools to choose from.  I have identified what I consider to be best practices  in making the selection.  These practices are focused on evaluating tools based on how they meet the requirements, in addition these practices have helped me to broaden the focus of the evaluation in order to meet a broad spectrum of objectives.  These are not complicated but they will help you to review tools and capabilities objectively.

For me the key best practice is the tool’s ability to function across platforms and this includes the ability to view and update across platforms to support collaborative efforts across partners and team members.  This leads to a second best practice of mine, you should select tools that can share capabilities across platforms.  The last best practice I have is simply remaining focused on your business requirements.  I’ve found that for my purposes these three practices help me to remain focused on the objective and not be overly influenced by cool features.  Remember, cool features lose their shine and if they don’t work effectively and efficiently across platforms you’ve just wasted your time and efforts.

Let me provide an example from my personal computing practices.  I’ve selected the Google platform and tools for my personal computing, from a Chrome laptop to the Samsung smartphone.  I made this selection because the platform allows me to access and utilize information across any platform through the Internet.  Starting with this framework that works across platforms, I added to that cloud storage using Google Drive and added Google apps that allow me to access and update across platforms.  Then I converted all of my email accounts to deliver through Gmail.  Finally I’ve started using a notes tool called Evernote that provides a robust framework to capture notes, and lists and collaborate across all platforms in real time.  From a process perspective, I’ve eliminated printing all but the the items that absolutely must be printed and then even the documents that must be printed for signature I scan the copy for electronic storage. 

These tools are very effective for improving my personal efficiencies and reduce the confusion and duplication of effort.  The critical factor for my selection was tools that are open and support cross platform capabilities and collaborative opportunities.


And now for the audience participation portion of the show…

What kind of tricks do you practice when you are multi-tasking?  How does technology impact your ability to mutli-task?  How does the blurring of the professional and personal aspects impact your life?