You can’t do everything. Your tools can’t do everything for you. That’s why one of the best leadership coaching questions a leadership coach can ask is: What tools are out there to improve your process(es)? Specifically, what process improvement tools are you not using that you could use? Asking this question can unlock potential in the mind of the person you are talking to. Try it.
But since I get this question all the time and I like to ask it myself, I decided that maybe I should help answer it for others (This post is also part of a series titled: 10 Coaching Questions Every Leader Needs to Ask). After you look at these 13 tools to improve your processes, take a second to let me know of any others that have helped you. I’m especially interested in any others that aren’t mentioned here.
13 Process Improvement Tools Leadership Coaches Recommend
BufferApp.com is one of those apps that I will always love. Buffer allows you to write multiple tweets, Facebook posts, or other types of posts and schedule them to post throughout the day. You can also upload them in bulk so that you don’t have to update your buffer everyday.
Dropbox lets you save files on your computer that synchronize to the cloud. Syncing to the cloud can be a lifesaver if your computer or phone is ever stolen (happened to me). There are all sorts of other expert tips for additional things you can do with Dropbox that will allow you to get more done without carrying around a laptop.
One simple example is using Dropbox while on the run to save your blog posts. Imagine you are stuck at the doctor’s office or somewhere else. You can read a magazine or write that blog post you’ve been meaning to write. Stop and write the blog post in the iPhone Notes App. Then “select all” and copy the post. Then open the File App and save the post as a file. Then you can quickly upload the blog post to Dropbox to save it for later editing on your computer.
No one can get everything done without the help of others. Few teams can get it all done without some type of system to organize all they need to do. Nozbe allows teams that are located in the same office or dispersed teams to organize tasks and projects, delegate activities, and also track the progress.
You don’t have to know anything about coding or web design to have a website these days. Many people resist blogging, writing in general, or even starting a business they’ve considered starting because of their fears of web design.
WordPress has solved that problem (in my opinion). With very little knowledge, you can setup a WordPress site and begin blogging. If things take off, you can pay someone to install a self-hosted blog so that you can maximize SEO, affiliate traffic, and other things on your site. You may also find this list of WordPress Plugins helpful as well.
IFTTT stands for “If This, Then That.” This tool allows you to connect multiple apps in an automated way rather than requiring your time or your team’s time. Try using this tool for something simple to test it out and you might discover you have many other uses for it.
6) iPhone Notes App
All of us have unused downtime where we lose the opportunity to get more done. I’m not talking about vacation time or intentional time with family. I’m talking about when you are sitting in traffic, standing in line, or stuck waiting on something else. How do you use that time?
Try taking out your iPhone and typing a blog post. If you are driving, you can dictate the blog post using the iPhone Notes App and Siri. Even if you don’t have the post finalized, it is much easier to go back and edit a post 80% done than it is to start from scratch after a long day.
I can’t tell you how many questions I’ve been asked that people could have dealt with simply by Googling their question or challenge. Don’t expect other people to solve all your problems for you. Open up Google.com and type in the question. You’ll be surprised at how many people (usually thousands) have experienced the same thing and how many helpful tips and tools you’ll find to address the issue. (One word of caution: be careful trusting everything you read as sometimes you will find lots of suggested resources and most of them will include kickbacks to whomever is writing the blog post or news article.)
8) Matrix ITA Flight Search
I get tired of the websites that try to sell me something every time I search. They end up memorizing your searches and often increase prices when you come back the next day. (Did you know that many sites increase the flight price based on the IP address of your computer? Yes, that’s correct. They increase prices based on your web history, computer type, and all sorts of other criteria.)
I don’t know if Matrix ITA Flight search does this or not; however, they are by far the most comprehensive flight search site I’ve ever found. One thing I like about the site is that it doesn’t directly sell flights. It is a little more of a hassle to visit multiple pages, but I like the fact that I can find the information on their site without being pressured to buy.
9) External Monitor
I like to use an external monitor with my laptop. It’s not because I need 50 windows/tabs open on my computer. Having an external monitor lets me separate out projects, so that I can get more done and stay focused on the task at hand.
Try buying an external monitor and using it as a parking area for things you want to come back to later. You may want to put your email or social media sites on the external, so they are visible but off to the side. You could put an email there that you need to respond to before you leave work. Another option would be to place an encouraging note that you want to return to on a bad day. Regardless of what you use it for, the external monitor allows you to put the less important tasks or bits of information in another area rather than allowing them to distract you from the task at hand.
Hootsuite is very similar to BufferApp.com in many ways but it also has some unique features that differentiate it from BufferApp. In general, it is mostly used by individuals, businesses, and other organizations that want to streamline their posting. It allows bulk uploading of posts, custom scheduling, unique urls for custom domains, multiple account usage (lots of accounts for paid users), and quite a bit more that I don’t have time to go into here. If you aren’t sure which one to use, get a free Hootsuite and a free BufferApp account and try them both out.
Siri is one of the most helpful things ever added to a cell phone as it allows you to dictate anything you want. Some people think of Siri as a gimmick or something that you only use for text messages but it can be used for emails, written reports, social posts, and a slew of other things that you would normally type out without Siri.
I admit that as of now I prefer the iPhone and a big reason is Siri. But the brand of phone isn’t the point. Voice dictation has come a long way since it first came out years ago. Whatever App you decide to use as you experiment with dictation doesn’t matter. But experiment with different things and give it a shot.
Everyone seems to be pressed for time these days and I get that. Time is one of those things that you can never get back and you always seem to have less than you may need. Sometimes it might even feel like you don’t have time to try out another one of these process improvement tools.
Feedly helps you by putting the things you care about most into one spot and allowing you to see what was recently written by those authors or websites that you care about the most without having to visit them all. Feedly uses RSS feeds to syndicate the information that you want into one space. (For more advanced users, you may want to bypass Feedly and use other services that bring feeds directly into your browser or into a service such as Hootsuite and/or BufferApp.)
13) A Colleague, Friend, or Family Member
I’ve written about this before but one of the best ways to improve something is to ask another person for their advice. Who do you know that excels in your area of weakness? Who might give you a perspective that you aren’t seeing at the moment? For more on asking others for help as a leader, take a look at the blog post I did a while back about how strong leaders ask for help.
Many process improvement tools exist out there and more are released to the public each week. I’m positive I’ve missed some great ones or don’t know about some phenomenal options. Don’t hesitate to let me know about any you think would be helpful. But before you do that, take a second to step back and evaluate your processes and performance to see how you could streamline, align or improve some area of your day-to-day or week-to-week processes.
Take a look at the other 9 questions from the series of posts entitled: 10 Coaching Questions Every Leader Needs To Ask.