Longtime readers of the blog know that I’m a tad obsessed with efficiency – anything that can save me time is something I can get behind. You may do all of this already, but I have a few easy tools that I completely swear by, and I thought I’d put some of them together in a single post.
Google Reader (or any feed reader like Bloglines, etc.)
Do you have a lot of blogs you like to follow but never remember to check them? Or do you keep going back to the same old sites to see if something’s new only everything is the same?
This is why they invented Google Reader. Here’s how it works. You copy the URL of the blog you’re following, then click “Add a subscription” in your Google Reader, and voila, you’re subscribed to that blog. Whenever there’s a new blog post it will update in your reader and you can read it from there (and easily click through if you want to read a comment).
I follow over a hundred blogs, and this is the only time-effective way I’ve found to keep track of them.
Using Your Calendar Effectively
You have an online calendar, right?
Whether you’re using Outlook, iCal or Google Calendar, the best thing about having a calendar online is that you can access it (and update it) from anywhere. If you have a phone with a web browser, even better. No double-booking!
But don’t stop there. Most calendars have a Task function – any time you do something that has a deadline or that you need a reminder for (like sending out a manuscript), create a Task, type in what you did, and set a reminder for when you need to act on it.
Between contracts and books and payments and submissions, I have between fifty and a hundred different things I need to keep track of at any given time, which is way more than I could remember without help. But with my Tasks set for reminders, every day I look at what’s due that day, start there, send out an e-mail or make a call, and then set a time to follow-up.
Yes, I’m a walking advertisement for Google. While I still don’t like the Google Docs interface enough to do my actual writing there, I use them for basically everything else.
The advantage? You can access your documents from anywhere. Especially when you want to easily sync between working at work and at home and on the road, this way you don’t need to have your computer to get the documents you need.
Any time you have to respond with a similar response, canned responses are the only way to go. In Outlook I actually have about 20 different signatures, everything from Form Rejections to responses to common questions, that I can insert with two clicks. It’s much better than copying and pasting.
If you’re using Gmail, check out the Labs section for their Canned Responses option.
Yes, I know, I know. Not everyone is on board with paperless books. However, for the busy literary agent who needs to immediately start reading a similar title or move quickly from one thing to the next, you can’t beat the speed and ease of e-books.
Better yet, with a multi-functional e-reader editing manuscripts is a snap.
The greatest reason to live in a big city since alligators in the sewer, many big cities now have online grocery delivery, either free or for a small fee. I couldn’t be more excited about this!!
Out in San Francisco, Safeway will save your past orders so all of your recurring stuff is easy to order. Just add the new stuff you need and set a window for delivery. Saves an incredible amount of time.
And of course I’m always on the lookout for more!! What are some of your favorite time-saving techniques?