The Productivity Action Plan for the Desktop

Paul Mah

Chris Strammiello of Nuance is an office technologies and processes expert, and sent along a four-step productivity action plan that offices and individuals can take to streamline their daily tasks and improve performance in the workplace.


As I've previously written on the topic of productivity in my blogs titled "Tips to Boost Your Productivity" and "Invest in Monitor Stands for Greater Productivity," I thought that this would be good companion topic. The tips are as follows.


Clear Your Desk of Clutter

Strammiello: Documents on your desk that have not been used for a month can be considered clutter. Clear them off the desk and recycle them - they are clearly not needed. Use digital copiers and scanners to turn paper documents into digital information that is integrated into communication and business applications. Stored electronically, the miscellaneous reports, presentations and memos that often clutter a desk are easier to file, quicker to locate, take up less space and require less time when searching for them.


Mah: One of the top time wasters has to be the inability to find things when they are needed. As you can imagine, clearing one's desk of stacks of unidentified paperwork would surely go a long way to alleviating the problem. David Allen, who wrote the book, "Getting Things Done," advises that everything should be sorted into proper "In" and "Out" tray, or else filed away into proper cabinets. This method consumes precious cubical space though, and an alternative solution in our digital age would be to scan and file documents digitally.


Work in Time Slots

Strammiello: Allocate time slots to make, receive and return phone calls, and leave desktop handsets on voice mail the rest of the time. Allocate similar slots for drafting, sending and replying to e-mails. Exercising discipline with phone, e-mail and other communications will prevent priority tasks from being interrupted. For more advice on how to use time at work even more effectively, consider attending a time-management course.


Mah: While there will be situations in which urgent matters will pre-empt your task at hand, I've found that reacting to every single e-mail as they come in to be a huge time-waster. This is because it takes time to "switch over" and then to pick back up where you left off. I like the idea of

allocating time slots, something that I practice from time to time.


Control Time and Costs in Document Handling

Strammiello: The money spent on document handling can be a considerable - and hidden - drain on an organization's profitability. Each year, companies waste money on ineffectively managed documents. Save time and money by unlocking the data that's trapped within increasingly common PDF file format documents by using document-conversion software to convert those PDF documents into Word, Excel and other editable formats. This negates the risk of typing errors and the costs of retyping documents.


Mah: You can read about my blog on reducing paper consumption in the office, which builds on the idea of relying more on digital communications.


Consider Voice-Recognition Technology

Strammiello: An effective and reliable alternative to the keyboard and mouse for entering data is desktop-based voice-recognition technology. Desktop speech-recognition software enables users to dictate at up to 160 words per minute, which is far faster than they can type. This can lead to an immediate improvement in worker productivity by creating documents more accurately and more quickly.


Mah: I had the opportunity to review Nuance's Dragon NaturallySpeaking 10 earlier this year and was impressed by its accuracy and speed. Because I type very fast, the speed improvement wasn't so pronounced, though I estimate that it could well be a game-changer for users who type at speeds less than 60 words per minute. Even for fast typists, being able to dictate into a document could be a welcome relief on the wrist.

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