As we add to our personal and professional responsibilities and tasks, our minds simply can’t handle all of the information we need to remember, process and complete. So, it’s become essential that we turn to certain tools or habits to remain productive and efficient each day.
As a popular article from Fast Company noted: “People who manage to get a lot accomplished each day aren’t superhuman; they’ve just mastered a few simple habits.” Indeed, perhaps it’s not about “adding more hours” to your day, but instead, using the hours that you do have in the best possible way.
At Illinois National Bank, our team has honed in on some resources – both online and off – that help us streamline, continue learning, and stay organized and productive every day, so that we can more easily achieve our goals and better serve our customers.
What do we use at INB?
Slack. The tagline of Slack is “Be Less Busy,” and Tom Gihl, executive vice president and COO of INB, has found that Slack helps keep his team at INB focused and communicating effectively. Slack enables you to organize conversations or projects, and invite others to contribute to the group, either through a private channel or public channel. “It’s great for group communication and free-form communication,” Gihl said. “When you create various channels, you can admit members to only those specific projects, as well as create private channels for one-on-one communication and publishing polls – all with just one Slack login.”
Outlook Calendar. The calendar feature of Outlook is a popular tool among our team at INB. Not only does it keep track of your schedule, but it can also be a resource for daily tasks. “I schedule my tasks that need completed to pop up as a reminder at 8:15 each morning,” said Nathan Van Zele, deposit operations officer. “So when I have a deadline to meet on a specific day, I just add it to my calendar to notify me that day at 8:15. It works really well for me and keeps the clutter off my desk – and when I finish that task, I can just ‘dismiss’ the task and it gets removed from my list.”
Buffer. “We just started using Buffer to post to our social media sites,” said INB Communications Director Marilyn Titone Schaefer. “It makes it easy to use content across platforms and pre-schedule posts.” Buffer is a social media scheduling program that can be used both on a desktop or through the Buffer app and allows users to plan and view their overall social media strategy, instead of manually posting to potentially dozens of sites. “It also allows me to see what’s ahead on the schedule and plan our online advertising accordingly. It’s nice not to have to visit all our social accounts to get the work done,” Schaefer said.
LinkedIn app. This is one of the go-to apps for Trip James, NMLS # 896008, vice president of commercial lending in Peoria. With the LinkedIn app on your smartphone, you can update your LinkedIn profile, send and receive messages, and engage with the updates posted by your connections. “I use the LinkedIn app to stay informed on what is happening to various centers of influence,” James said. Particularly if you’re on the go in your job, the LinkedIn app can keep you connected with colleagues, clients and potential customers.
Doodle. Mark Donovan, senior vice president of commercial lending (NMLS # 662887), has found that using Doodle to schedule meetings with multiple people has drastically reduced back-and-forth emailing about availability. With Doodle, an organizer creates an event with potential times and dates, and then everyone can choose the slots they are available for, quickly and conveniently settling on a time that works with everyone’s schedule. Then Doodle syncs with your calendar, removing another step of manually adding a new appointment to your schedule. “Its biggest advantage is its simplicity, both for the meeting originator and its attendees; its interface tackles the process of elimination for me so that I can easily and quickly find a mutually feasible time for everyone to meet,” Donovan said. “Doodle is a must when I have to coordinate a meeting time with more than three or four people.”
Well-outlined goals and actions. Productivity doesn’t always have to mean high-tech. For some at INB, simply writing down key tasks as well as personal and professional goals is the path to staying productive. “I am a fanatic about setting goals,” said Lynne Wooden, vice president of business solutions. “I have monthly, weekly and daily goals. I don’t use any particular tools or apps; I simply have my goals outlined and in front of me on a daily basis to keep myself on target.”
Natalie Dodson, assistant vice president for mortgage lending (NMLS # 574151), has devised a personal system using a daily planner for scheduling her mortgage closings with clients, a notebook for daily tasks, and her computer calendar for reminders, appointments and meetings. “I make a handwritten to-do list every day, in pencil. I write down the three biggest problem items first – particularly the ones I dread but need to get done,” she said. “Then sometimes I have things that carry over to the next day.”
Illinois National Bank app. Of course, we can’t forget the convenient INB app! What activities can you do from your smartphone? Pay bills, check transactions, deposit checks and more! “I’m always using the INB app as part of my work life, but on a personal level, I love being able to have access to information about my accounts,” Schaefer said. “Bill Pay is super; my home computer is getting aged, so I usually use my phone to schedule payments.” Now, you don’t even need a password to login to your account; a recent enhancement of the INB app is access with TouchID. “I’ve always tried to make my password long, which means lots of thumb strokes, but that doesn’t have to happen anymore!” Schaefer said.