Interview with Lori Vande Krol

PElorivandekrolWhat projects are you involved in?

I am currently involved in 3 large collaboration projects. First is a national project with two other productivity experts called Project Digital Sanity. Our goal is to help individuals and businesses to declutter, organize and maintain their digital information. We offer a free e-book, blog, free webinars and a 5-week course, Prodigitivity, that helps participants to create their unique blueprint for management of their digital information. I am also involved in a project with Goodwill Industries. We are planning a contest for a local business to win their own Productive Environment Day. This is a fun day in which the business, or team, will be offered expert training and time to clean out their offices, files and computers. Donations from the office, and from home, will be collected by Goodwill. The third collaboration project I am involved in is a revamp of the National Association of Professional Organizers’ statistics database. While large collaboration projects can be challenging, I am enjoying them tremendously and learning a lot at the same time. There are many great tools available to make communication and information sharing simpler and more efficient, including Doodle! I have used this in several projects to coordinate meeting times with virtual teams.

How did you get interested in productivity?

My background is in very technical fields – math and actuarial science. I enjoyed my career as an Actuary but did not see myself doing it for the rest of my life. I saw a great need within the business world for better organization and productivity, as well as life balance. I felt I could better serve others directly by using my talents and expertise to help them be more organized and productive, allowing more time and focus for what
matters most.

How many meetings do you normally have each week?

My weeks vary greatly, but on average I have 5-10 meetings a week.

What are some of your favorite productivity tips/apps?

Clutter is Postponed Decisions(TM). Every piece of information that comes into your work environment, whether it be an email, a piece of paper, a phone call or a business card, needs to have a place. First, determine whether it needs to be tossed, acted on or filed. Then, based on this decision you can determine where it belongs. Having the right systems in place is key.

Regarding productivity apps, I am honestly not a big “app” person. I have fewer apps on my phone than most and try to keep the number of systems I use very minimal. Simplicity is very important to me. I think people can get very overwhelmed with the many choices available. I recommend first determining what your needs are and then researching the best apps or systems to fill those needs. There are some basic systems I use daily that I couldn’t live without including Outlook, Google Calendar, the Fujitsu ScanSnap scanner and PBworks. Following are a few additional tools and apps that have made life simpler for me and my clients: Doodle, Pocket, Toggl, Snagit and of course social media apps and my all-time favorite, Google Maps.

What’s the most recent adjustment that you’ve made to your personal productivity routine?

I consider myself pretty high-tech and love to use Microsoft Outlook, Google Calendar and my Android phone for calendar and task management. But there are times when I get overwhelmed by my to-do list and schedule. I recently decided to pull out my paper planner and have started to use it, along with my electronic tools, for weekly planning, prioritization and time management.

Do you measure your productivity? If so, how do you do it, and what is your metric?

Productivity is very hard to measure with a specific metric. I am currently involved in a project with a client in which we are working to develop a library of metrics that can be used to measure productivity among any business in any industry. Being involved in this project has proved how difficult it can be to come up with measures that are truly meaningful and can cover the many different aspects of productivity. We are making progress, though, and I am looking forward to our end product. Personally, I measure my daily and weekly productivity based on how much I cross off my to-do list. In order for this to be an accurate and meaningful measure, I need to be very thoughtful about what is on my list for each day and week. I need to be sure I am managing my time appropriately and that my task list reflects my overall goals. It is important for me to have a balanced set of tasks related to the different areas of priority in my life. On an annual basis, I set 3 SMART goals for the year for my business and life, and review my progress throughout the year. I also review my financial goals and progress. All relate back to how productive I am on a daily basis.

What do you think the next productivity trend will be?

The trends I am most excited about are the paperless office and cloud computing. As individuals and businesses become more comfortable with this approach towards storage and sharing of information, collaboration and communication, their needs and desires in this area will grow. While there are many productivity systems and apps to choose from today, there isn’t one system to cover all needs. I think cloud providers will continue to partner with each other to provide the end-user with a simpler, more seamless experience.

You can learn more about Lori Vande Krol through her website, and be sure to follow her on Twitter, too.

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