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Whether you're spending too much time getting bogged down by email or your life seems to revolve around meetings, there's no doubt that you could stand to shave off mindless minutes at work. Modern time-saving technology goes way beyond word processing and spreadsheets. With the use of a smartphone and a few computer applications that help you hold meetings, manage your tasks or keep you from time-wasting social media, you can make better use of the precious few hours in the workday.
Scheduling and Task Management
Use basic scheduling tools such as your Outlook calendar to lay out your daily tasks. Having a set schedule not only helps you stay on task, but it also alerts others you work with -- such as a secretary or your staff -- to when you're available for impromptu questions, and when you shouldn't be disturbed. This saves the time of having to contact everyone individually. To ensure you're using your allotted time wisely, set a timer for each task. Apps such as TomatoTimer or Toggl help manage the time you spend on each item.
Manage Social Media
If you're using social media to promote your company, you can spend a lot of time sending tweets, posting photos to Instagram, or checking in on Facebook. To save time, download a social media management tool that lets you check on multiple platforms -- and post from them -- all at once. Buffer, HootSuite and SproutSocial are some of the options to try. If you find yourself wasting way too much time on social media for personal use, download a blocking program, such as AntiSocial or LeechBlock, that only allows you access to your feeds during certain hours of the day.
Personal interaction with clients and customers is valuable, but it can also really eat up time. Instead of meeting face-to-face with that important client every week -- which requires a drive across town -- use an application such as Skype or Apple's native FaceTime to meet via video chat. The same goes for meetings you have with co-workers or colleagues. Instead of spending time walking across the company campus and then waiting for everyone to assemble, spend five minutes checking in via WebEx or GoogleHangouts.
Automate Where You Can
If you're a business manager or owner who spends time paying office bills, managing inventory or scheduling staff, you owe it to yourself to automate those systems. If you own a bakery, for example, it might take some time to break down your ingredients into recipe sizes and enter them into an inventory system to manage your baking inventory. But in the end, it will save you time by helping you assess how much inventory you need on a daily or weekly basis. Apps such as Inventory Tracker and Lettuce keep track of goods you have on hand and let you know when it's time to order more. This saves you from having to sort out every detail on your own. You can also save time by setting up automatic payments for your bills so don't have to spend time writing out checks.
Nicole Vulcan has been a journalist since 1997, covering parenting and fitness for The Oregonian, careers for CareerAddict, and travel, gardening and fitness for Black Hills Woman and other publications. Vulcan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism from the University of Minnesota. She's also a lifelong athlete and is pursuing certification as a personal trainer.