Using Tech To Manufacture Time

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I’m not a supermom, and I don’t know anyone who is. I’m an Ubermom — everything in my life is on-demand. My kids have the shortest wait time (but occasionally have to resort to Ubermom-pool). I’m just a regular Ubermom at work and most of the rest of the day as well. Every now and then, my husband tries to book an Ubermom VIP, which is not always available, has a significantly longer wait time, and is always subject to surge pricing.

All kidding aside, on an average day we work eight hours, sleep seven hours and do pretty much everything else in the remaining nine hours. This would be fine, except that it’s almost impossible to do “everything else” in only nine hours. So we have a choice: do less stuff (not likely) or manufacture more time (hard to do, but better than the alternative).

Recent example: I left my office early on a Tuesday in December to pick up my 5-year-old daughter from school. We had 45 minutes of quality time walking to soccer practice. Along the way, I got to hear all about her day: her mastery of the monkey bars, the song she learned in music class and a friendship challenge she was working through. With her lips still covered in Pirate’s Booty, I got a big sloppy kiss and a hug as she turned on her heels and ran onto the field. There I was, on the sidelines, in the bleachers with about an hour of manufactured time.

Everyone has laptops and smartphones, so working remotely is not new or newsworthy. But the collaborative tools available today are newly relevant because they are incredibly simple to use and, in many cases, free.

Slack, which is my favorite team messaging app, recently added a VoIP phone service and even more recently added video chat. If you’re not using a team messaging app, you don’t know what you’re missing. You probably already have Facebook Messenger; if you use it to build a group for your team, you’ll quickly realize how valuable it is, how many emails it eliminates and how many minutes it manufactures for you each day.

Collaborative online apps such as Google Apps for Business or Quip are also excellent factories for extra minutes (even hours) each day. Working together as a group on a shared spreadsheet or document or presentation has many benefits beyond the time it saves, not the least of which is shared knowledge. It is also a great way to train less-experienced team members.

I used to carry a small iPhone mostly because I could use it with one hand. As you know, for a mother of young children, being able to do anything with one hand is a plus. Now I carry the iPhone 7 Plus with a 5.5-inch screen. While it’s a two-hand phone, the larger screen is perfect for quick spreadsheet edits, evaluating presentations, and actually typing Google Doc or Word documents. The larger smartphone may be my best productivity tool.

We’re expecting a wealth of new technology at CES 2017 that will further assist us in time manufacturing. If you’re at the show, stop by the Shelly Palmer Strategic Advisor Tours & Events booths in either Tech East or Tech West, and we’ll help you find it.

Alexis Palmer Zinberg is executive VP of The Palmer Group, a strategic advisory and solutions firm offering strategic counsel, event services, thought leadership and custom software design and development to media and entertainment companies, brands, advertisers and trade organizations. She is also a member of the TWICE Women of Technology advisory board.

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