Friday, November 20, 2015

Working smarter: a round-up of useful tools

I’ve noticed a lot of recent talk about “working smarter, not harder.”  As a result, I’ve been thinking of what technology I can use to help me accomplish my work more efficiently.  Here’s what I’ve been using so far:

Boomerang: If you use Google for Education, you can install an extension on your browser to make it easy to schedule an email to send later or have an email “boomerang” to the top of your inbox at a later date.  I often use these to schedule sending reminder emails to look at trials for electronic resources.
Canned responses: This is one of my favorite tricks!  Do you have similar emails that you send regularly?  If you use Google for Education or Microsoft Outlook, you can create template emails to save as “canned responses,” and insert into a new email when it’s time to send that boilerplate message.  I’ve found canned responses invaluable as I order electronic resources, communicate with our campus procurement office about licenses, and more.  Check out this tutorial for implementation tips.
Email filtering: Sick of looking at dozens of listserv emails per day?  I filter most of mine into designated folders and set aside time to read and clean out those folders a few times a week.  Batching this work keeps me focused on work-related emails instead of being distracted by disjointed conversations.
Genius Scan App: This app is great if you need to scan an awkwardly-sized document (or even receipts for expense reports) and get it onto your computer.
Google Translate App: Is a foreign language material stumping your cataloging work?  With the Google Translate App, you can take a picture of the material with your phone and the app will translate it for you!  Not having to type new-to-you characters into the website is an easy bonus.
Trello:  Move away from that spreadsheet you use to track where you are in a process, and instead use a visual board to organize your projects.  You can even create public boards to let others know how your project is going, or use it as a collaboration tool for committee work.

What technology do you use to work smarter?  What else belongs on this list?

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