Tuesday, November 26, 2013

8 things that put years back on my life: My efficiency list

I look at time these days like a wallet, full or empty. Time is money, and the years in your life. With it, you can add life to your years. Here are 8 things that put years back on my life and ease my work, making both a walk on the beach. Many, but not all, of these links get you special discounts and sometimes get me the same:
  1. Fancy Hands: I've tried other virtual assistants, and this one--hands down--works the best for me. I use Fancy Hands for a wide range of tasks, from blog research and permissions requests to dinner reservations, sending flowers, dealing with bureaucracies, making appointments, setting up conference calls, you name it. They're fast, efficient and cost-effective. The company was started by a New York Times R&D exec who needed, well, extra hands.
  2. Uber: I'm about to go car-free, but I've got a driver and that's a start: Uber. I don't need to handle cash when I ride with them, as it's all billed to my credit card, complete with tip to the driver, and Uber offers a range of rides (black sedan, SUV, small car or taxi). Best of all, it's in cities all over the world, and can be hailed from a phone app that tells you how far away the driver is--a matter of minutes. Uber's my preferred ride....and in a year when I traveled extensively, it's something I factor in as a time-saver.
  3. Evernote: I've written before about using Evernote to take my office paperless, and love it even more now that the company--highly valued by investors--has enough funding to keep adding more and more features. I use the premium version for more searchability and storage, and this year, have been curating and sharing notebooks full of resources with private clients and public audiences alike, just one feature I love. I'm writing a book in it right now.
  4. Global Entry and TSA Pre-check: I can shave an hour or more off my advance time at many airports in the U.S. and when I re-enter the U.S. after a trip abroad, thanks to enrollment in these two programs. Domestically, I can skip the usual security line, and don't have to take off shoes, belt or electronics or empty my carry-on bag, either. When re-entering the U.S., I skip the forms and the customs agent. Did I mention it costs just $100 for five years? This year alone, the program has saved me at least 50 hours of time, and I smile at the TSA agents who wave me through. I hear the beach calling.
  5. Amazon Prime: Prime, Amazon's $79 subscription for two-day shipping all year, has changed how I shop for everything, and allows me to get things fast--sometimes the same day. The fact that it includes tens of thousands of streamable movies and TV shows has helped me ditch cable television. 
  6. Griffin Technology Elevator Laptop Stand: This ergonomic tool, which elevates my laptop to eye level, saves me time by saving my muscles. I've got fewer neck and shoulder issues, and this works at both my sitting desk and my Stand-Up Workstation. The two things, in combination, make me healthier and more at ease, almost like a time gain.
  7. Sony Bloggie Duo Camera: Since the Flip camera is no more, I've settled on this camera, which I own in multiples for my group workshops--it meets my requirements for being easy enough for anyone to use quickly, records in HD and offers sharing options so I can send videos to clients. And each one is as small and light as a smartphone.
  8. Audible audiobooks: I'm a longtime Audible listener, and whenever I am on the move--walking, taking public transportation or on long-distance travel--Audible lets me multitask with reading-by-listening for both books and podcasts. Because I can sync Audible recordings with ebooks on my Amazon Kindle, it's easy to turn to text when I need a reference for a post.
What's putting years back on your life?

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