I’m a big fan of combining things.
Taking two products and merging them to create one product that solves two or more needs.
Heck, look at all the things the iPhone combined. I think the meme going around for the last five years or so was that you could fit an entire Radio Shack into an iPhone.
Combining things is good business and some business leaders have gotten very good at combining certain elements of their day in order to save time.
The lunch meeting. The treadmill conference call.
Here are some more ways to combine things and save time at the office.
1. Meeting + Walk
This one is about the physical. There are a lot of benefits to walking everyday. Most know that Steve Jobs loved walking and he loved walking meetings.
It’s good to get into the habit of walking for about a half hour each day. Outside whenever possible. To save a little time and make it more likely that you’ll actually go on the walk turn one of your half hour meetings into a walking meeting. Even if it’s around the halls in the office.
2. Voicemails + Email
I think we underestimate the abilities of our brain. I’m not a huge fan of multitasking especially when it comes to intense focus, thinking and things like that.
But for more mundane things we can certainly multitask.
Go through your basic emails and basic voicemails at the same time. You probably won’t be able to retain all the information, but you’ll be able to retain enough to set tasks, reminders, priorities, etc.
I had a boss that did this and it definitely saved time. I would sometimes follow him into his office to tell him something. He’d listen to me, turn on his voicemails and go through a few emails.
3. Chatbots + Email
I’ve seen this on LinkedIn. You get a notice that someone has a new job and LinkedIn prompts you to congratulate them and it gives you three options to click a button for “Congrats” or “Congratulations” or something similar. You click on one and the message is sent.
I think we’ll see more of that with email and texting. Look for this technology and use it. The bot will learn what your most common responses are to certain emails. It’ll save a lot of time.
4. Voice Memos + Communication
I think this will catch on more. We have the technology. I was talking to a friend about it. He was texting with his wife while driving us. After he was done I asked him why we don’t send voice memos to each other. Especially for driving. Especially now that bots can automatically transcribe voice on phones. People can listen or read.
It could be good for busy folks. The reason is you can listen to audio while doing something else. So instead of reading email you listen while working on another task.
5. Priority Scheduling + Assistant
You set priority and an assistant sets schedule based on priority. This way you’re not letting urgency get in the way of your daily activities. It’s really easy for urgency to take over. I struggle with it. Especially with calls. I think it’d be good to set a priority for incoming communication and then have someone use those guidelines to filter the communication.
6. Archive & Search
Search makes things really quick. I’ve seen people search through folders and folders to find things. They might have shortcuts for their most important folders, but even then they might need to find certain files.
Get in the habit of searching for things. Emails, voice memos, files, etc. Get good at naming them and then knowing what to search for. It can save a lot of time.
7. Time Limits + Meetings
There is the saying that if you give someone a 10 pound bag that they’ll fill it with 10 pounds of stuff. Very true, in my experience, with meetings. Schedule one for a half hour and you’ll probably fill it. Rarely do you get out early.
See what happens if you slash all your meetings by 10 minutes. See how that goes for a week. Then see if you can slash even more.
8. Filters + Assistants
You’re looking to limit options or choices with this one.
Many successful people setup filters. Derek Sivers wrote about this concept. They use filters because it saves time.
If you’re in a leadership role where time is valuable then you need to setup filters. Assistants can help. You want only the most important things coming your way whenever possible.
9. Audio + Breaks
More listening to audio. This time during your breaks. Lunch breaks, water breaks, walking breaks. Take your earbuds with you and listen to voice memos, voicemails, podcasts and briefings. All of it. Audio is big for productivity. You can listen and do other things.
10. Curated + Briefings
Most leaders need trends and information coming in. But it takes a long time to find sources and then read the briefings.
Instead, have someone else or some kind of technology curate the briefings. Then turn it into audio. I’m thinking of Alexa Briefings while brushing your teeth as Gary Vaynerchuk likes to say. Audio makes so much sense.
Combining things is great business. If you combine two products and cut the price you’re onto something potentially big. You can do the same with your time. Look for ways, like the ones above, to combine your activities so you’re doing more in less time. It will obviously allow you to be more productive.