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10 apps, shortcuts that can help reclaim your time and get more done

Posted by Deepshikha Shukla

April 6, 2022    |     6-minute read (1038 words)

Letting technology do the heavy lifting for certain monotonous tasks lets you and your team focus on core business tasks and revenue-generating activities. Here, we delve into 10 tech hacks you may not be familiar with but that can help you finish tasks faster and efficiently.

1. Proofread long essays with Google Translate

Identifying errors in your own long-form writing can be a challenge as we tend to lose perspective and miss mistakes over time. Introduce a fresh perspective by using your ears instead of your eyes. 

How to do it: Copy and paste your content into Google Translate. Click the Listen icon, and the translator will narrate the entire text aloud.

2. Leverage a secure password manager

Using a password manager, for example Dashlane or Bitwarden, can save you from fumbling around in frustration to keep track of the myriad passwords needed to log into important sites and accounts. With an online password manager, you don’t need to remember all those passwords — you only need to remember one. Other password managers include 1Password and LastPass, which can integrate with your browser to help you seamlessly log into websites and other services.

3. Automate your meeting availability

Eliminate the need for back-and-forth emails to determine meeting availability. Instead, use an open calendar, like Google Calendar, to find or display time slots for online meetings. To schedule meetings with people outside your organization, consider software like Calendly or Doodle, which eliminate the need to message each other back and forth. 

You can choose whether to make your Google calendar public or to share it only with specific people in your organization. Outlook also allows you to control what others can see about your schedule through your permissions settings.

4. Manage your travel itinerary

Apps like TripIt consolidate travel information including flights, rental cars and hotel bookings in a single place. They also keep track of booking-related emails and the latest COVID-19 travel advisories. Such apps also send you notifications about flight delays or cancellations.

5. Find a parking spot via app

Driving around searching in vain for a parking spot when you’re late for a work engagement makes you look unprofessional and no doubt annoys colleagues who are waiting around. An app like SpotAngels can be a lifesaver when driving to a place where there is no assigned parking. Many of these apps will also inform you of free parking areas, street cleaning times and other local rules. Different countries use varying apps to provide parking spot information, so be sure to check before downloading one.

6. Set up email filters

When you receive dozens of emails every day, when you’re seemingly always short on time, it’s stressful to figure out what’s urgent and what’s not. To get around this, you can set up email rules and labels to make your inbox more manageable and automatically get rid of emails you don’t want to read.

In Gmail settings, for example, create labels and corresponding filters that will sort your mail automatically. For example, you could set it up so that all emails from your manager are highlighted in attention-grabbing red and assign emails from a particular vendor to be assigned an automatic promotional label. Similarly, in Outlook, you can create rules for incoming emails from a specific person or that contain certain keywords. 

7. Increase the time to un-send an email

Sometimes you realize you missed something or made a mistake just after hitting the “send” button, and then you have to send a revised email. However, you can extend the amount of time to unsend an email in Gmail.

To do this, look for the “undo send” option in your Gmail settings. Select a cancellation period of up to 30 seconds. Outlook on Windows also offers users an undo email feature. You can also schedule an email to be sent later if you need to write it before you forget.

8. Use tech for commuting

Finding the fastest commute route for your drive with apps like Waze can keep you from getting stuck in traffic and ensure you reach your meeting on time. Apps such as Google Maps and Apple Maps show train and bus times and traffic on their routes. These apps also let you share your expected arrival time and the route you are taking with others by sending a link.

9. Save time with voice typing 

Productivity coach Samphy Y suggests using AI writing assistants for first drafts to save time. To do this, use your computer’s talk-to-type feature to dictate emails and documents, and to keep notes from meetings and brainstorming sessions.

On Windows, enter text on your PC by turning on voice typing (press the Windows logo key and “H” on the keyboard) and dictating your thoughts.

On macOS Catalina or later, enable voice control by clicking the accessibility option in System Preferences. 

Chrome users can use type-to-talk features for Google Docs or Google Slides by going to the Tools menu and selecting the voice typing option.

10. Block distractions / set boundaries

To focus on your work and block potential distractions, try these tips:

Use the “Do Not Disturb” feature – If the ping of work messages continually distracts you, silence notifications by using your computer’s Do Not Disturb feature. If you enable this feature on your phone, note that you can select certain family members and colleagues that you want to be able to reach you during this time.

Remove notifications – If your phone is a continual distraction, silence alerts and notifications from your apps. On Windows, you can set up to four hours a day through the focus plan during which notifications and messages will be muted. Turning off any unnecessary notifications on your phone and computer will help you block the distractions while working.

Try website blockers – If you lack the willpower to stay away from certain websites, block them during your work hours. This will help you keep your focus where it should be during the workday. 

Change app status To set expectations, alert others at times when you are not available to respond. This can be done by changing your app status or by marking time off on the app.

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