In a short period of time, I’ve written several financial books with another on the way, scores of articles, blog posts and a dozen white papers all while maintaining an expanding client base and a firm to support it.
Life can definitely be a bit busy. But as busy as things are, I still find myself with reasonable time for many things outside of work thanks to one word … Technology.
Ever since I wanted to reduce costs and increase workflow by transitioning to a “paperless office,” a significant portion of my life runs on a combination of auto-pilot, outsourcing and assorted applications that have really helped me save time and money.
For those who haven’t heard of the term, “going paperless,” it essentially means your documents are scanned, stored and managed on a server or disk. However, as far as I’m concerned, “going paperless” is just the beginning to a more efficient life. With a little exploration and a microbudget, you might be pleasantly surprised as to how much more efficiently your life can run with a little technology integrated into it.
So, for the moment, I’d like to deviate from writing my usual financial topics and share some of the many ideas and tools that increase both the quality of my professional and personal life. This certainly isn’t a complete list, nor is it in any priority order:
- GO DIGITAL
www.officedrop.com: No office can be “paperless” without your documents securely scanned, stored and easily managed. This service turnkeys the entire process and does it all for a reasonable price. Go paperless and I can assure you that you’ll never go back again.
- INTEGRATE YOUR LIFE
www.zoho.com: Zoho is a seamless integration of virtually every type of application you’ll need to run your business. With the exception of your industry-unique applications, you’ll rarely need to buy another piece of software again. Best of all, it’s completely Web-based.
- TOSS THE FAX
www.efax.com: Faxes come directly to e-mail and are easily stored for future use. Need to send one? Simply upload a document and voila, you’re done! It’s as easy as that.
- MAKE IT READABLE
www.freepdfconvert.com: No “paperless office” can be without documents in the Portable Document Format (PDF) and for no charge at all, this site makes creating them an absolute snap.
- DON’T MISS AN APPOINTMENT
www.google.com: The calendar (and other apps) is free and their robust features are tough to beat. Managing appointments is as easy as it gets and best of all, they can be shared and synchronized with most popular mobile phones.
- MAKE INVOICING EASY
www.invoicemanagement.com: Lightning fast invoice creation and management; it doesn’t get any easier than this.
- MAKE TALK CHEAP
www.skype.com: Three dollars per month gets you unlimited calls anywhere in the country. All you need is an Internet connection and you’re chatting away.
- GET PAID
www.paypal.com: I don’t know about you, but I like getting paid for my services and although there’s a handful of ways to go about getting it done, I’m amazed at how effective having a PayPal account has been for me.
- SCAN THE BILLS
www.myezbills.com: Many people pay bills through their online bank but most of the time, you’re still getting the mail sent to you. With EZ Bills, all you have to do is forward your bills to their service and they are instantly scanned and available for you to pay and manage.
- SHARE IDEAS
www.nocostconference.com: Need a conference call? This one is simple, easy to set up and best of all, it’s absolutely free. www.gotomeeting.com is another absolute must for screen sharing and collaboration.
- RECORD YOURSELF
www.jingproject.com: Select an area of the screen you want to record, click start, narrate a voice over, save and send. I call it, “instant tutorial” and it’s been a huge time saver for me and many of those around me.
- IMPROVE YOUR APPEARANCE
www.99designs.com: Need a graphic, logo or presentation? Post a description and within a day you’ll have “99” designs to select from.
- GET HELP
www.getfriday.com: Need someone to answer your phones? Book appointments? Do some research or serve as your full-time assistant? Get Friday is as good as it gets. Located in India, they do just about any type of low and high-level admin work you need, all for a very reasonable price.
- BACK UP YOUR DATA
aws.amazon.com: When’s the last time Amazon’s site went down? Answer: Never. This little-known service from the online retailer gives you dedicated space on their global servers, fully encrypted and completely protected (even HIPPA and Sarbanes-Oxley compliant as well). For a “paperless office,” such a service is an absolute must.
- OUTSOURCE THE WORK
www.guru.com: If you can think of a job you need filled, this site will find someone to do it. Create a project of virtually any kind and within no time at all you’ll have people all over the world bidding for it. Before hiring, you can check their references, work samples and a long list of other resources that help you select the best person or firm for the job.
- GET MORE CLIENTS
https://www.sendoutcards.com: Using this service has greatly increased my client base via referrals. With this service, I will never miss a birthday, holiday, thank you, get well or any number of other reasons to reach out and touch a client ever again. Upload your contacts and all it takes is a few short clicks to snail-mail any type of greeting card (in your own handwriting) along with a wrapped gift from an extensive catalog (if desired). You can automate the tasks or do it yourself. I created the URL above to allow you to test drive it for free.
- WRITE A BOOK
www.lulu.com: The most rewarding thing I’ve ever done was write my book(s) and if you’re looking for more clients, there’s never been a more effective tool than the power of the written word. Write that book and get it published here for a rock-bottom price. No time to write? See idea #15 and dictate your ideas to get it done.
- BUILD A SITE
www.weebly.com: Need a quick site that is a snap to build and always fits the budget? Weebly is free and quite good. However, if you are looking for something with more depth, be sure to check out Wordpress.org, the free software platform my alanhaft.com site runs on.
- GET KNOWN
www.increaselocalvisibility.com: Want to own the number one position on Google when someone does a local search for a profession such as “CPA?” You can own top positions with this truly fantastic service, just don’t contact them cold. If interested, e-mail me so I can put you in touch with the right person, otherwise, you might wind up paying for services you may not need.
- CHILL OUT
www.pandora.com: Life without Springsteen or Dylan would be dreadful, so while I’m using any of the above, this free service is usually playing in my background.
That’s 20 ideas.
Have I missed a few?
E-mail me quick! I can always use a few more.
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Alan Haft is an investment advisor, author of three books including the national bestseller, You Can Never Be Too Rich and makes frequent appearances in national print, television and radio media such as The Wall Street Journal, Money Magazine, CNBC, BusinessWeek and many others.