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03 Dec

Digitalize more

Datum: 2014-12-03 10:28
Person using a tablet wearing black clothes, keeping the tablet on a desk

A paper and a pen are excep­tion­al­ly good tools. You can quick­ly and eas­i­ly scrib­ble down a few notes on a piece of paper when you have the client on the line. And if we for­get to bring our notepad to the meet­ing we can just ask our col­league for a sheet of paper.

If we are stand­ing in front of the check-in machine at the air­port and are short of time, it is not a prob­lem that the com­put­er takes for­ev­er to start or that the smart­phone is out of bat­tery since we print­ed the tick­et with our con­fir­ma­tion-num­ber on paper.

But, for those of us who tend to work in many oth­er places oth­er than our office it can be quite the nui­sance that phys­i­cal papers only can be in one place at a time. If we are out of luck (or out of structure)this loca­tion is else­where from where we cur­rent­ly hap­pen to be when we are in need of the infor­ma­tion the paper contains.

For you who pre­fer lis­ten­ing to read­ing, this post is also avail­able as a pod­cast episode:

Become bet­ter at digitalizing

But, if we dig­i­tal­ize more of the infor­ma­tion we do not know exact­ly when we will need, we will be able to work with more things regard­less of our phys­i­cal where­abouts. We no longer have to choose task depend­ing on the loca­tion we are in, but rather by pri­or­i­ty, ener­gy or preference.

Besides, we no longer have to have great amounts of paper about that only dis­tracts us. It will become eas­i­er to focus on the task that requires your atten­tion at the moment.

Here are hence four ideas regard­ing the kind of infor­ma­tion we eas­i­ly can dig­i­tal­ize in order to increase our sense of free­dom and focus.

Do this

  1. Equip your­self. If you have not done so already, get your­self a scan­ning app for your smart­phone. The excep­tion­al­ly best app at the moment is in my opin­ion SwiftScan — avail­able for Android and for iPhone.

    SwiftScan in the App Store

  2. Dig­i­tal­ize! For instance:
    • Scan or take a pic­ture of your notes from meet­ings so that it becomes easy to put them away in the same loca­tion as oth­er doc­u­ments regard­ing the project after you have extract­ed the next steps you decid­ed on tak­ing and defined them as to-do-tasks. After this you can throw away the orig­i­nal notes with­out feel­ing wor­ried or bad about it, and hence avoid any piles of old notepads which oth­er­wise tends to form in the bookshelf.

    • Take a pic­ture of the white­board with all the draw­ings and notes which you made while brain­storm­ing dur­ing the meet­ing even if some­one kept track and made note of all new ideas. By doing so and hence enabling your­self to lat­er see what the white­board con­tained, it will be much eas­i­er to remem­ber what you said and decided.

    • Scan all busi­ness cards you col­lect rather than stor­ing them in a pile on the desk or in a spe­cial binder for busi­ness cards which you sel­dom browse anyways.

      I am very pleased with the app for scan­ning busi­ness cards called Busi­ness Card Read­er from the Ger­man com­pa­ny Shape Ser­vices. The con­tact infor­ma­tion on the card is auto­mat­i­cal­ly trans­ferred into my address book on both my com­put­er and phone, and I do not have to spend time and ener­gy fill­ing in the infor­ma­tion by hand. It does not inter­pret the infor­ma­tion on the cards per­fect­ly, but close enough. The app is avail­able for iPhone but not for Android (for which there are plen­ty of sim­i­lar apps, though).

      Business Card Reader App in the App Store

    • When you are trav­el­ing and pay for busi­ness lunch­es, take a taxi, pur­chase tick­ets, pay for park­ing tick­ets and oth­er things which you lat­er will turn in receipts for or charge a client for, take a pic­ture of the receipt and email it to your­self. If you would then hap­pen to lose the orig­i­nal receipt, you will not be in trou­ble. Bet­ter be safe than sor­ry. Or, use an expense track­ing ser­vice as Shoe​boxed​.com
  3. Store away. If you scan a doc­u­ment, save the file in the same loca­tion as you save oth­er doc­u­ments regard­ing the same top­ic, client, project and so on. Do not save it on your com­put­er desk­top in order to eas­i­er keep track of it”, but save it on your dri­ve, on your shared serv­er or in your doc­u­ment man­age­ment sys­tem. If you take a pic­ture with your phone, email the image to your­self (after which you save it accord­ing to the same prin­ci­ple as above men­tioned) or upload it straight to Drop­box, Ever­note or some oth­er cloud based doc­u­ment man­age­ment service.

Ade­quate format

If we dig­i­tal­ize more of our ref­er­ence-infor­ma­tion, we will be and feel freer to do oth­er things. We will get more done in more loca­tions and use time oth­er­wise spent wait­ing, in tran­sit or trav­el­ing more effi­cient­ly doing tasks which are impor­tant to us and our business.

What is your way?

Do you know of oth­er types of infor­ma­tion which lend them­selves nice­ly to dig­i­tal­iza­tion and which I have not men­tioned above? If so, please share. Tell me! 

(But, what if you end up keep­ing your dig­i­tal files in so many places that you have a hard time find­ing what you need? I made 3 minute video about a trick to escape expe­ri­enc­ing that).

By the way, if you want more tips on how to cre­ate good struc­ture at work — here are many ways to get just that.