WEB & TECH / OCT. 21, 2015
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Short-Staffed? New Technology Can Pick up the Slack

If you’re starting your own business or are self-employed, you’re almost certainly short-staffed. You’re constantly on call with little or no downtime. Just as you finish one task, another pops up that demands immediate attention. Make your life a little easier by using technology for all your business needs no matter where you are.

1. Put Siri to Work

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You can joke around asking Siri goofy questions, but for more serious purposes, the iPhone’s digital assistant is incredibly convenient and easy to use. Siri works through voice activation, which saves you a lot of time compared with switching between different programs, even if you know every shortcut there is. In addition to searching the web, according to Macworld, here are some of the other things you can do with Siri:

  • Send texts and emails
  • Create calendar events and reminders
  • Set alarms and timers
  • Create and edit notes
  • Assign nicknames to contacts (so your boyfriend Nick won’t be confused with your boss’ ex-partner Nick)

The "hey Siri" prompt came out with iOS 8 on the iPhone 6 Plus and strengthened Siri’s ability to respond to your voice. It may seem gimmicky, as Know Your Mobile admits, but it does sensitize her to your voice, even if your phone is across the room. Now on the iPhone 6s Plus and iOS 9, Siri can do math without opening a converter app and has an upgraded transit feature that senses and guides you to local transportation.

2. Discover Buried Microsoft Office Functions

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Many small businesses use Office 365, a cloud-based program that doesn’t take up valuable hard drive space and can be accessed from any approved device. If you’re just starting out with the MS Cloud, check out this list of handy functions from Business Insider that make it easier to record, store and share data using Office 365:

  • Seamless integration with Skype that lets you and your employees work on a single document at the same time.
  • OneNote note-taking tool inside Outlook can be added to calendars and email.
  • A new Clutter folder in Outlook that examines your sorting habits and stores anything that doesn’t meet it or have an assigned role.
  • Ignore button that spares you from receiving reply all email responses.
  • DocuSign electronic signature.
  • PDF files that can be easily converted into Word documents and re-saved as PDF files.

Power Maps and 3-D maps that convert rows of data into images.

3. Organize with Technology in Mind

The jury is still out on whether neatness bolsters or inhibits creativity, but most people still strive to be neat. Achieve this goal more easily with office organizers that also serve high-tech functions.

If space is tight, check out the inexpensive Cyanics iStick Multifunction Desk Organizer, which Entrepreneur claims can help you "channel your inner Martha Stewart." It rests over your keyboard to help you keep the area around your computer de-cluttered with these features:

  • 3 USB ports
  • Memory card slots
  • Compartments for pens, sticky notes, clips, etc.
  • Smartphone cradle
  • Cupholder
  • Slots to hold your photographs

Does it work? Amazon’s ultra-fussy reviewers give it 3.9 stars.

Do you use any of the tools mentioned above? Do you think they improve your productivity? Let us know in the comments section below...

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