One of the founding Smartlife principles is that you should never have to do anything twice — the computer should be able to do it for you. The Internet has extended this awesome idea, brilliantly declaring that nobody should do anything a second time. By engaging crowdsourcing, thousands of everyday tasks have been taken online, from your personal party checklist to building bits of your business.
Familiarizing yourself with these resources takes a small-time investment but the payback is incredible. Never again do you need to start with a blank sheet, and procrastination will be seriously reduced — because once you already have something to work with, any task is infinitely more un-intimidating.
Checklists are one of the most powerful personal productivity tools there are, and you can start with a pen and paper. Simply writing your tasks down clarifies plans, helps organize time, and frees your brain form remembering what you need to do (allowing you to do it instead!). Checklists are the entire basis of the popular “Getting Things Done” management technique, and have even been shown to save lives. So you should use them!
Even better, you don’t have to write your own. With thousands of people writing their own, Checkser offers a searchable database of lists for every imaginable task. Of course you’ll customize your own, but the pre-prepared starting point saves a lot of time — and can remind you of vital steps you might forget!
The next step in web-list evolution is not just downloading them but interacting with them online. ListPool is a cross between crowdsourcing and wikis, meaning it couldn’t be more web-connected if it became sentient and tried to kill us. ListPool allows you to engineer work lists with collaborators, checking off and modifying entries as the task progresses, and writing wikipedia-style entries on each task. This “build your own list/book” approach is incredibly useful if it’s a repeated task, especially if you’ll be bringing in new staff — a little extra time planning the first run through will save hours in every subsequent event. Just like good planning should.
3. Microsoft Templates
Microsoft takes a lot of flak because of updates, installs, and the Blue-Screen-Of-That’s-My-Workday-Destroyed, but the fact is everyone uses it — and many of them demand updates, adverts, status reports, and dozens of other words that mean “a file you have to type up.”
Except you don’t! You already know to copy-and-paste text and images to build up a report (instead of rewriting things you’ve already done), but now you can copy out the entire framework. Microsoft offers an online database of thousands of templates, all organized by function, so the next time you’re sitting staring at a blinking cursor you can go online and get the skeleton you need. Then it’s a simple process to fill in each section, and you’re done!
There’s a lot more online than Office documents, thank all that is holy, and for those you have TemplateMonster. A huge archive of HTML, Flash, and even SWiSH templates available for download you can get a headstart on any web-design project. Because the real point of your website is the details, the features, or just the proper presentation of your content — you shouldn’t be wasting time reinventing the bare bones of the site when you could be making it stand out.
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