By A. Brian Fabian
RISMEDIA, June 9, 2008-Is technology a ‘four-letter word’ to you? Many of us today are overwhelmed with the variety and complexity of technology that purports to make our life simpler. In many cases, it costs too much, fails to perform as promised, is riddled with errors, and increases the stress in doing our daily work. Yet many of us would love to have technology that actually does simplify our daily life. Here are a few ways you can use technology to simplify your daily tasks without the stress and hassle that comes from most software.
1. Use online office tools. There are several services now that offer online document, spreadsheet and presentation software. The benefit of this is you can work on it anywhere you are and your assistant can be working on a document at the same time as you. Whether it is a spreadsheet for tracking closings or listings or a mailing you are sending to your clients, you and your assistant can create it online, edit online, and store it online. It saves you from having to e-mail back and forth or even be in the office.
Probably the best provider of this service today is Google. You can see their product at http://docs.google.com . Microsoft also offers a new online service call Office Live. This also has features where you can store your contacts online and manage projects. It is more complicated but also more robust. You can check it out at www.officelive.com .
2. Clean up the e-mail. E-mail is the single biggest use of the Internet there is today. It has so many benefits but also leads to much wasted time. Simplify your e-mail management by creating folders to store the e-mail you want to retain. Many people leave all their e-mail in their inbox. It slows it down and makes it hard to find. If you use Outlook, create subfolders under your inbox for categories that make sense to you. Then use the rules wizard to setup rules to automatically file your e-mail when it comes in. The most current versions of Outlook have a search folder called unread e-mails which will put all new e-mails in one folder. Once you read them they are filed away. If you need to mark something for follow up, you can flag it from the menu and it will be stored in a follow up folder. The follow up folder is another search folder in outlook. If you don’t see it, just right click on Search Folders and follow the wizard to set one up.
Web-based e-mail also works great and all the major online e-mail services have the same feature. You can check them out at www.gmail.com , www.yahoo.com, and many others.
3. Back up automatically. Most people rarely backup their important data, primarily because it can be hard and tedious to do. However, now you can subscribe to a backup service that backs up your data online and does it automatically. These services install a small program on your computer and some even automatically search for your documents and mark them for backup. In all these services, the first backup can take several days but only if you have more than 10 GB of information. After that they backup as you work and you will not notice the difference. If you have ever had your computer crash, you will appreciate the stress reliever this could be. SOS Online Backup allows you to login and view your files through a Web browser if you are traveling without your computer and need to get something. You can check it out at www.sosonlinebackup.com . Carbonite is also easy to use and simple. You can check it out at www.carbonite.com . Both of these sites offer an inexpensive annual subscription of $49.95 per year.
4. Use Web-based management tools. As a real estate professional there are many tasks you need to keep track of for your listings and closings. Several products are now available online to help automate these tasks. The trick is finding one that is inexpensive and does not require training. By using this service, you can set it up so that you are notified each day on what is due and when it is due. Most of these services allow you to receive an e-mail each morning. This frees you and your assistant to focus on the more important tasks of marketing and sales.
Technology is perfect for automating anything that requires tracking and follow up. A simple program to help with managing the contract to closing process is www.myclosinghelper.com . It has a list of tasks to select and set due dates for the closing process and it allows for tracking notes and comments and uploading signed documents. Best of all, you receive a daily e-mail alert on what is past due, what is due today, and what is coming up in the next 10 days.
5. Let the Web notify you of calls to make. The lifeblood of a successfully real estate professional is calling potential clients and following up with phone calls and e-mails. We have learned about a new service that is set for release this summer called www.mycallstoday.com . This service will allow you to upload all of your contacts from Outlook or other programs and then set how many calls you want to make each day. There will evidently be different options to set a specific number of calls each day or to use some other criteria. Best of all it will allow you to set reminders to make follow up calls or send follow up e-mails. Every day you will get an e-mail with new calls to make, follow up calls to make, and follow up e-mails to send. It is a Web-based reminder service tailored for people in the sales business. Keep an eye out for it this summer.
Simplicity and functionality are the new buzz words in technology. As you can see, new technologies are coming out that really can make your daily task easier and make you more productive.
A. Brian Fabian is the managing director of MyClosingHelper.com.
For more information, please click here. www.myclosinghelper.com