time saving

8 iPhone Functions That Will Change Your Work-Life Balance

A hand holiding an Iphone displaying the homepage with various Apps

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The sun has finally come out to play and we all want to be spending more time outside with friends and family and enjoying the weather. But there’s a catch… How are you going to get those one or two ‘can’t be missed’ work items done without your laptop?

Have a read through the below need-to-know iPhone tools and functions, and make your way to striking a better work-life balance this Summer.

  1. Scan Documents To Your Notes
    Have a receipt, invoice, property plan or other important document you need to keep or share? Open a new or existing note, choose the camera option shown at the bottom of the note, select ‘Scan Documents’. 
  2. Screen Recording
    Looking to show someone how to find something on their phone, on the internet or want to record a meeting or video call? Add the Screen Record tool to your Control Centre (the options you get when you swipe down from the top right-hand side of your phone). Go to Settings, Control Centre, scroll down to find the Screen Recording option and press the green plus sign next to it.
    Why not have a play around with the rest of your Control Centre options whilst you’re there?
  3. Voice Memos
    Log some thoughts, record a conversation (with permission!) or capture a sound that you can later send to yourself (or anyone else) via email, message or WhatsApp.
    Use your phones search function if you’re not sure where it is within your Apps. You can access the search by swiping along to the farthest left-hand screen.
  4. Add New Words To Your Dictionary
    Do you have a company name that always gets auto-corrected? Or any other words that you use frequently that frustratingly always get changed when you’re typing messages? Go to your Settings, choose General, Keyboards, and the select the Text Replacement option. Add as many new words or phrases as you’d like your phone’s dictionary to recognise.
  5. Create Your Own Wifi
    It’s not always easy to get a good WiFi connection when you’re out and about with your laptop. Use your phones Hotspot function to create a WiFi connection that uses your phone’s data. Go to Settings, Personal Hotspot, and then create a password and switch it ‘on’.
  6. Sign Documents
    Don’t wait in and miss spending time with friends or family. If your email is set up on the iPhone Mail App, when you view an attachment, you can select the ‘markup’ option on the top right-hand side. From the options that then display at the bottom of your screen, hit the plus (+) sign. Choose ‘Signature’ and away you go!
  7. Secret Back Space Feature On Your Calculator
    Do you ever perform a long calculation on your iPhone and then get a digit wrong and have to start all over again? Avoid the frustration with this useful function: Next to the numbers you have typed in the calculator panel swipe left or right to delete the last digit.
  8. Control What Face ID Unlocks
    If you need to be extra security conscious, you can customise what the Face ID function allows to be unlocked. Go to your Settings, choose Face ID & Passcode (it will ask you to enter your passcode for security) and then you can decide what you want to access using that feature.

Do you know any other great hidden functions? Maybe you have an Android phone and can reveal similar ideas? Share them with us via our socials (@mbsmih) and we’ll keep this blog updated with your suggestions!

make it happen..   E: [email protected]   T: 01903 688789

‘Conveyer Belt’ Your Way To Saving Time

Navy alarm clock standing on a white desk infront of a plant

I recently worked on a project for a client, covering whilst a member of their team was away. She is extremely efficient, knows what she’s doing and never wastes time (I know this from working with her regularly)! And yet, whilst I was covering her work, I was around 30% quicker at getting the tasks done than usual.

I considered a number of things to try to understand this. Including: 

The process – was I changing or reducing the number of actions taken to achieve the same result? .. No.

The amount of work – were the number of work requests fewer than those usually provided? .. No.

The time of day – considering that each person varies in productivity level depending on the time of day and other influencing factors? .. No!

So what was it??

When she came back from her annual leave, we did the usual handover and I took the opportunity to talk to her about my thoughts on the timing issue. What I discovered, (and she has since taken up!), is that we use a different method, mine evidently saving significantly more time.

So here it is: The method;

I call it my conveyer belt system, which will hopefully make sense as I explain..

When taking on any task, simple or complex, I always break it down into chunks. Usually with admin, you’ll have a number of different tasks throughout any given day and any one action will be repeated several times. E.g. Invoice processing, raising quotes, filing documents, organising emails, updating spreadsheets, and so on etc. 

It’s highly likely that for any task that comes in you’ll do it as you go. I.e. Process that invoice, update the relevant spreadsheet, then reply to an email, process the next invoice etc. Whilst that feels productive because you’re getting through everything, it’s actually quite inefficient. You’re constantly having to go in and out of various files and systems, and your brain is having to focus on something new every 5 minutes!

If you consider for a moment, a factory. A product is created by going through various stages of a conveyer belt system, and each area of the conveyer belt focusses on one action. This is the most efficient way. It would be impossible for the labelling element to also design, create and package the product. And if it were possible, that one area of the machine would take considerably longer to produce multiple products at any one time.

So, to be as effective as possible, we need to adopt the same theory. 

Still with me? Not quite? OK, let’s run through a couple of examples..

Example1 – Invoice Processing: 

Firstly, it’s likely you’re going to receive more than one invoice per day, week or month. So, depending on the frequency, you want to choose one time of day, one day a week, or one day a month to process all of your invoices together. This is the first stage of your conveyer belt – working out what needs to be actioned and when. 

Next, breakdown the task of processing an invoice. What actions are required? You’ll need to;

  1. Open/ load/ view the invoice
  2. Save it to your files
  3. Add it to your accounting software
  4. Possibly add it to a task list or other spreadsheet for internal use/ reporting
  5. Get payment approval
  6. Pass it for payment

That’s quite a list just for one small job. I know each of those elements won’t take long, maybe 30 seconds to a minute, but that means each invoice can take up to 6 minutes to process! It also means that for each one, you have to move your brain through 6 different activities, adding on a few more precious seconds.

Getting back to our conveyer belt theory. If you were to instead action all invoices, within each stage, at the same time, think how much time and brain re-engagement effort that would save! Opening all (10 let’s say) invoices one after the other, then running through and saving them all, adding each to the accounting software, etc. etc. Until all actions are complete across your entire conveyer belt.

After the first one, this brings each ‘new’ 30-60 second action down to 20 or 40 seconds because you’re no longer having to think or work so hard on each section. Each action becomes a brief habit in that moment of time. And suddenly you’ve gone from 1 hour to completely process 10 invoices, to only 40 minutes. Across an entire day, you’ve saved almost 2.5 hours!! Just think what else you could be doing with that time.

Example 2 – Organising Emails:

If you’re anything like me, by the end of the day your inbox can start to look a bit messy and needs a good sort out ready for the next! You keep articles or newsletters you want to read, but haven’t and possibly won’t get round to. You have important emails that no longer need actioning but do need to be saved or filed. There’re junk emails you’ve skipped over in a hurry to get to more urgent matters. There’re non-urgent emails that need a response you haven’t gotten round to yet. And a number of other wonders in between!

Following a similar approach to the above, to get through this as quickly and efficiently as possible, we need to adopt the ‘conveyer belt’ method. Start by breaking down the types of emails you have;

  1. Urgent – needs a reply
  2. Non-urgent – but still needs a reply
  3. Information only – need to review but no reply required
  4. Informative – articles, newsletters, offers etc.
  5. Junk/ spam – Why am I still getting these!!!

Then, for each type, consider the actions required (and the priority). Work through each email type (not each email, each type). For example, all of the urgent – needs a reply emails. Once you’ve done one, your mindset will be focussed on appropriate wording and responses, so doing the next and the next will get easier and easier. Follow this with the non-urgent – needs a reply emails. They might not be urgent, but whilst your brain is in the right gear, get them done. It will take less time overall.

If you have emails that need filing out of your mail system, do them all at once. If you’ve decided that you want to get rid of all the newsletters from ‘products are us’ (because you’re just not going to get round to reading them), do a search, pull them all up at once and delete them all together. Don’t spend time unnecessarily running through each of your emails to find them. 

Find all of your junk emails and get into a rhythm – opening each one, unsubscribing and then deleting it. And so on within each area of your emails.

To summarise: 

Your whole day, week, month or even year can be broken down into chunks of the work, tasks and actions needed – areas of time that can be managed dependent on the frequency of the task required. Start there. Then once you’ve figured that out, you can focus on the individual tasks and the actions necessary to complete them. From there, you can set up your ‘conveyer belt’ system. Good luck! 

Thank you for reading our blog, I hope you’ve found the ‘conveyer belt’ idea useful. If you need any help or want to chat through this idea in more detail, please get in touch, we’d love to hear from you. 

Tel: 01903 688789. Email: [email protected].