Habits are hard to break–especially technology habits. For instance, email took some time for widespread adoption, but now we tend to use it for almost everything.
Well, I’d like to change that, along with some other habits we still cling to.
So, here’s my list of four technology habits that we need to say goodbye to:
1. Using email to schedule meetings
This is something that is totally unnecessary with our current tools. If you are trying to schedule a meeting with a group of more than 2 people, please don’t send an email with a list of dates available and then ask the recipients to send you their preferences. The result will be a flurry of emails that you’ll need to sort and figure out. Why go through this aggravation, when scheduling software will do this for you?
There are many great scheduling tools out there, but one of the simplest is ScheduleOnce, an add-on in Google Apps that allows you to select various time slots and invitees. You can use the free personal edition and use it right within your Google Gmail and/or Calendar. You can work directly in your Google calendar, viewing available times for your invitees, and then select various time slots to propose. You get a URL to send to your invitees and the program will return a date and time that works for everyone. Once you decide, send them a final date and it’s done.
To install the free Firefox browser add-in, go to ScheduleOnce http://www.scheduleonce.com and click “Download Add-on.” Then, when you restart your browser, you will see a widget for ScheduleOnce in your Gmail and/or Google Calendar.
Another excellent scheduling tool I’ve used is Tungle (http://tungle.me). They have a mobile app, too, so you can use it with multiple devices. You sign up for a free Tungle account and then start scheduling. This tool can help you organize meetings quickly and easily.
Of course, we will continue to move beyond our current system of digital calendars and scheduling. We now have apps that allow us to tell others where we are, such as FourSquare, Facebook, Twitter, Google Latitude, Plancast, and other social applications. Location-based services in the future will most likely work together even better and maybe even help us decide what we should do, but for now we at least have a way to schedule meetings beyond sending an email query to several people. Get more accomplished and optimize scheduling meetings. Do it the next time you need to schedule a meeting. And keep doing it.
2. Still searching with your keyboard
Google Mobile App: http://www.google.com/mobile/google-mobile-app/
Okay, this is something that is difficult to change, but once you get the hang of it, you will never go back. If you haven’t installed mobile Google Apps on your smartphone or Internet-enabled mobile device, do it now. Then, click the Voice Search button and search using your voice. Try it. It works very well.
iPhone Voice Control: http://www.apple.com/ipodtouch/features/voice-control.html
Then, use your voice for all kinds of actions you’ve been doing by hand–such as searching for songs on your iPhone or iPod Touch. If you hold down the Home button on your iPhone or iPod Touch, Voice Control pops up. Say “Play Brian Culbertson,” and your iPhone will search your iTunes collection for music by that artist. You will get an audio confirmation from iTunes of playing that artist.
Or, instead of manually dialing a number or clicking a contact’s name, hold down the Home button and say, “Dial home.” Your iPhone will comply. You can even ask your iPhone to tell you the time of day. Try it. Do it.
3. Waiting in line to get your boarding pass
QR Codes: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/QR_Code
Most people know you can (and should) check in online for a flight at least 24 hours ahead of the departure and print your boarding pass.
However, many airlines now have mobile sites where you can download or copy an image of a QR code and place this in your camera roll. Search for a mobile check in link on your airline’s website and you should find this feature.
When you get to the security checkpoint, display the QR code on your phone or mobile device and enjoy the look of surprise on the TSA agent’s face. When you get to the gate to get on the plane, use your phone again and try not to look too smug. Only thing you need to make sure is that your phone doesn’t run out of power!
4. Handwriting notes
Dragon Dictation for Mobile: http://www.nuance.com/dragonmobileapps/
Okay, I still write my grocery lists on pieces of paper, and I need to stop doing this. Invariably I forget to take my grocery list with me or update it. If I would just record my list using Dragon Dictation (a free app) to my smartphone and then access the transcribed list, I could save time both writing and not forgetting my list. After all, my phone usually takes precedence over a scrap of paper.
Of course, you can also type the list using the Notes or other app on your smartphone. Whatever works for you, but lists on pieces of paper are another habit we need to break.
And what if you are grocery shopping and get hungry for a certain recipe, but are not certain about all of the ingredients (say, for instance a pineapple upside-down cake). Just use the Epicurious app you downloaded on your phone, search for it, and buy the ingredients on the list. Then, go home, bake a cake, and make your family happy. Unless they don’t like pineapple. Then you’ll have to eat it.
What technology old-fashioned habits are you trying to break or have noticed? Send me your comments below and have a great technology day!