Five tips to save time in the use of the computer for information management

Everyone is looking for more time to do the things they want and need to do. One way to get more time is to spend less time on tasks that could be done better and more easily with another method. For example, using a computer wisely can greatly reduce the time spent searching for information or performing repetitive tasks. Almost everyone has access to a computer and most computers will have one or more applications available to save time. Here are some ideas on how the computer can save time.

1. Use spreadsheets to make lists, budget, and keep track of various items.

Spreadsheets have built-in functions to make math easier without a calculator. If database functions are also used, the information stored in the spreadsheet can be viewed in various ways.

2. Use standardized forms and checklists for repetitive work and planning.

This saves time because some of the thinking is removed from the process. Rather than trying to remember everything, the form or checklist acts as a prompt for necessary information.

3. Use email instead of the phone to save time and increase accuracy.

Indicating what is needed or sending the message in an email is faster than picking up the phone and playing the phone label or leaving an unplanned voicemail. It also provides the opportunity to spell check and proofread the text before submitting to avoid potential confusion.

4. Use a contact management database for a quick search of key information about people.

Contact management databases have address information, notes, and reminder functions to keep up with customers, suppliers, and other key people. Most email or calendar tools have a built-in mini-contact database called an address book, which allows you to save the name and email ID. Many also include the phone number, company, title, and areas where other information can be entered. Using a contact database reduces the time it takes to create emails and avoids typographical errors.

5. Use model letters in a word processing application to reduce the time spent developing similar communications.

By creating form letters, the time spent sending the same types of letters, memos, and emails can be greatly reduced. If your application has a merge utility, you can also add names and other information to printed documents using a contact management database or data table. Also use grammar and spell checking for messages before copying, pasting, or sending them to an email tool. For emails where there is no word processing application available, save the standard email in the “draft” folder, then simply edit the key information before clicking send.

If you have a hard time figuring out what an application does, try using the “Help” function, which is usually found in the application’s top menu bar. If you need computer training to get comfortable with using the above tools, then spend the time wisely by taking a course or reading a book. It may take some time, but starting to explore computer-based options for using time wisely may be the best option for improving time management in the future.

Next time, before looking for information, check out that computer and see which of these few ideas are available. Then find more time to accomplish the things you want and need by spending less time on repetitive tasks that could be done better and more easily using the computer. Remind; don’t let the available time go to waste as long as there is another method to try.

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