This is a two-part series containing 10 technology resolutions to make in the new year. Part 2 provides the last five. Read Part 1 for the first five.
The amount of technology tools and information you use in your business can seem like a hindrance rather than the organization and productivity boosters they should be. Get a handle on your business tech tasks with our 10 technology resolutions for the new year. These tips will help make your business neater, greener, and more efficient.
6. Maximize your Internet time: Loafing on the Internet can be the biggest time suck of your day, but keeping up on your industry and general business news is a must. You can cull and organize your reading list through an RSS feed reader such as FeedDemon or Google Reader.
Place news feeds in a “test” folder for a two-week period before adding them to your everyday list to determine whether they’re really worth your time. For feeds with an exorbitant amount of updates (more than 10 per day), cap the amount of results listed so you don’t end up with a headache trying to keep up with updates hundreds of results long. If you like your updates short and sweet, find out if your favorite sites use Twitter; with posts at 140 characters or less, it’s a quick way to read headlines.
7. Simplify your travel gear: The only thing worse than figuring out how not to wrinkle your meeting clothes in a suitcase is packing multiple cords and chargers for your gear. Try an all-in-one charger such as Ion Hub to tame your mess. Devices like this connect to normal wall or automobile plugs and have several ports for all your devices, from your iPod and laptop to your cell phone and electric shaver. Just make sure the universal charger you purchase does indeed have the correct ports for the devices you own.
Another item that will minimize your travel woes is an airport checkpoint-friendly laptop case. These relatively newly accepted accessories meet Transportation Security Association requirements and allow you to keep your laptop safe and snug in its case during its trip down the X-ray belt.
8. Recycle your used gadgets: Today’s technology gadgets are full of harmful chemicals that have no place in a landfill, but it can be confusing to figure out where to recycle your digital detritus. Before you throw anything out, check with local charities such as Goodwill Industries to see if they can refurbish the item; just make sure you’ve really erased all information, especially client and financial data. If it’s truly junk, still make sure all data is gone and then check with your local trash department to find out whether it has an e-waste disposal center where you can take things such as computers, photocopiers, fax machines, printers, televisions, telephones, and DVD players. Big box electronics retailer Best Buy also offers free recycling for cell phones, rechargeable batteries, ink-jet cartridges, CDs, DVDs, PDAs, and smartphones.
For less toxic trash such as office paper, aluminum cans, and water bottles, check with your city’s recycling program to see if it provides pickup service. If not, ask employees if they would like to take on recycling duties; it may be worth whatever cash they earn from the trash.
9. Lessen your paper use: While you’re being earth friendly, why not revisit that dream of the ’90s: the paperless office. While few manage this feat, you can take many measures to lessen your paper usage. There are quick and easy solutions such as printing on both sides of paper, having recycled paper bound into scratch pads, sending items such as invoices as PDFs rather than snail mail, and purchasing recycled paper.
Then there’s the next level: Services such as eFax digitize your faxes, freeing up your counter space and lessening your paper use. You can do the same with your snail mail; services such as Earth Class Mail open your mail and digitize it. You can then ask to have it sent or shredded and recycled.
10. Inventory your data bills: Are you paying for data usage that you, well, don’t use? Or worse, are you going over your cell phone, text messaging, and Web hosting plans each month, paying exorbitant overage fees?
Sit down with at least six months’ worth of bills to see if you’re really getting your money’s worth. If your landline is just collecting dust, ditch it. Adjust your cell phone plan minutes to truly reflect what you’re using so that you’re not paying for something you don’t use or paying fees on something you use a bit too much. If your contract is up soon, check out BillShrink, a site that will analyze your cell phone bill and match you with better deals for your personal usage. You can also pay Validas to audit your cell phone bill for you at a rate of $5 per bill or $10 for four bills.
For your Web hosting service, are you paying for a level of service you don’t need? Make sure the plan you’re paying for is the plan you need. Also, check your credit card receipts for monthly or annual subscriptions to online services you signed up for and may have forgotten about. And while this goes a bit beyond our tech focus, it’s always a good idea to self-audit your utility bills while you’re at it.