© 2008 The National Nurses in Business Association, www.nnba.net
Question: In your presentation at the South Carolina American Association of Legal Nurse Consultants (AALNC) chapter, you said you saved considerable time and organized your personal and business life by making better use of technology. Can you tell me more?
Answer: I believe that some of the new technology consumes more time than it saves. Just because technology can do it doesn’t mean it is helpful. Synchronizing a laptop to a desktop and to a mobile device (phone, PDA, etc.) sometimes requires more time than it saves.
Most people have personal and business contacts stored in different locations and in several types of formats such as address books, databases or spreadsheets. They may have an elaborate file folder system for email. Even with the best of systems, phone calls are often not logged at all unless they are billable hours. Need I say more? You know the problems.
In my quest to save time, I have spent a lot of time. The good news is that I have found a solution that works for me and I will share it with you. I truly believe in the concept of KISS (keep it simple stupid).
I use my laptop (IBM PC with large hard drive and a great deal of memory) for both my desktop and my laptop computer. No synchronizing is needed. All my information is with me at home and on the road. At home I add a large monitor, ergonomic keyboard and a tracking ball. On the road I use it as a stand-alone system. When I’m in the car, I plug it in to keep the battery charged. I access the internet with Wi-Fi on the road. In the office I have high speed broadband. I never use webmail. I send and receive directly from my laptop. I can answer email wherever I am and then send and receive when the Internet is available.
For software, I use ACT!®. It is a relationship management system (RMS). Notice that it is not contact management or an address book. It manages the relationship I have with my contacts (personal and business). It integrates with Microsoft Outlook®, QuickBooks® (QB), and other programs as well as phones or other mobile devices.
In ACT! I have records of individuals and companies with whom I interact. I originally imported them from QB, Access® and Outlook®. It was a little scary in the beginning to have all my contacts in one database. Now I love it — one place for everything and everything in its place. When I first started, I entered everything I thought I would ever want to know about each individual or company. Needless to say, it is a living record and must be updated as new information is discovered. ACT! keeps track of every email, phone call, document, meeting and interaction. It can include a photograph and group the records into categories. WOW! When I dial the phone, a little timer, a window to write what we talk about and a one-click button to schedule follow-ups all come up on the screen. If you have ACT! linked to QB and the time is billable, you can write the invoice for the time spent or just open QB and enter the invoice. At the end of the month you will have a complete itemized statement to send. It even keeps track of when to follow up with that individual and has a calendar for meetings. Oh yes, and it has mail merge for both printed material and email, advanced search items, notes and user-defined fields that can be customized for your needs.
Sage Software® pioneered the program for sales people to manage their relationship with customers in Dallas in 1986. Today it is used by many corporations and individuals. There are other programs out there. One is Goldmine®. For me, ACT! is intuitive and not so complex that it takes more time than it saves. You can find more details on the program at www.act.com.
You can reach me by email firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (321) 633-4610. Keep in touch. •
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