I’m an efficiency freak. I take great pleasure in learning a new Windows or Internet Explorer shortcut that might save me a few seconds a few hundred times a year. In my working hours, I try to pack as much communication and research in as possible. I type emails as fast as I can. I get headline news and stock quotes on my MSN Direct Watch. I get my daily news from the best aggregators, like www.newslinx.com, and MyYahoo. I take a book or magazine with me wherever I go, so that I can steal a few glances whenever I have a moment. I’m an Audible subscribers and listen to audio books that can keep me sharp. (I only wish I could listen in "fast-motion.") I use Google News Alerts to notify me of breaking news on all the topics and companies that I track.
But the most valuable tool I have for increasing my productivity is my RIM Blackberry 7230. I’ve been a Blackberry user for about 5 years now. I’m on my third model, the blue Blackberry. This one has a built in cell phone as well.
Why is this so valuable for me? Because it literally buys me an extra working hour every day. I get about 100 emails per day, and send about that many as well. Before Blackberry, I had to sit at my desk for an hour or two to get through all my emails.
Now, I usually stay caught up during the day, in near real-time. My Blackberry vibrates when I get an email message. In between meetings, or during other down time, I can type out a few email replies. Fortunately, I’ve mastered the thumb keypad, and can type between 50-55 words per minute! (I also use the Blackberry to take notes at church and in other meetings where I want to remember what is said–sometimes I have to whisper to those around me that "I’m not playing games, I’m taking notes!")
I attended a Jupiter Conference in October 2000 in Napa Valley, CA, where Mark Andreesen, founder of Netscape, was the keynote speaker. I’ll always remember him holding up his Blackberry and saying that it was his near exclusive email client. He predicted that humans would evolve smaller thumbs as a result of this technology.
If a person makes $100,000 per year, and spends one hour (or 1/8th) of every work day just sending and receiving emails, then the company is paying them $12,333 just to do email.
For between $30 and $50 per month you can have unlimited email service on your Blackberry. If you carry this with you wherever you go, and learn to type fast with your thumbs (new idea: Mavis Beacon Teaches Two Thumb Typing), you can literally reduce your time tethered to your desktop by an hour or more per day, for less than $600 per year! Companies should pay for Blackberrys for any employee with sufficient email volume to justify it–and I would say that would be 10 or more emails per day.
So many times I shake my head in disbelief that companies will pay $50,000 or $100,000 or $150,000 salaries for talented employees, but they won’t invest a few thousand dollars in training (sending them to key conferences, trade shows) or a few hundred dollars in simple tools that can increase their productivity by 10-20% or more.
My advice? Buy Blackberrys for all your key employees and train them on how get more out of each work day.