It’s kind of an interesting phenomena to see some folks struggle with how to use AI in their daily work and how others have swiftly adopted AI to make short work of specific tasks. I’m largely in the latter camp, but I sympathize with others nonetheless — depending on the type of work you do each day, AI may well be incredibly useful or completely useless. If you don’t think AI is particularly useful in your day job, maybe some ideas below will spark some creativity. If not, no big deal.
I’m a professional accountant, so my daily work consists of financial and tax reporting, consulting, and communicating with clients via video and written memos or emails. AI is useful for some of these, but certainly not all — at this point, I haven’t found a use for AI in video work.
AI has quickly become baked into all your favorite apps these days — even my favorite weather app has AI baked in now. It’s flat-out overwhelming. I tend to use Notion’s AI tool since we use Notion in the office to track all our work. Having it baked into our office management tool is particularly useful for me. I love being able to do the work and keep the work in Notion, rather than having to do the work in a different app and paste everything into Notion afterwards.
Here are some ways I use Notion AI in my daily work.
Writing press releases. For some non-profit work I do, I occasionally need to create a press release that will go to the local media company or to go on a website online. Press releases use a specific form of language (I’ll let a full-fledged writer define the nuance of press release writing), but it tends to be a bit robotic and lack flare. AI is able to create a quick press release with some barebones details and the right sort of language, which can be built upon with more specific details of your own choosing. I had to write two press releases in a weekend in the middle of tax season and AI cut the job from a 1 hour job into a 10 minute job. That about pays for the Notion AI annual purchase right there.
Creating quick meeting agendas. Any good meeting requires at least minor planning, and usually the more planning put in means a smoother meeting experience. Notion AI is really good at preparing simple to semi-complex meeting agendas. I’ve used Notion AI to build an agenda for reporting financial results to partners, and the AI tool even went so far as to provide different reporting ideas related to the type of business I was reporting to. Of course, the resulting agenda required a little more refinement with specific details, but I really liked the way the AI tool made quick work of creating reportable ideas.
Improving emails and letters. I won’t be the only person in the world who is provided a draft of an email that will be sent to a larger group or for a specific purpose with the hopes of clarifying details or improving the content of the email. Notion AI is great for taking a first draft of an email (but really, a first draft of anything) and improving the email to be more concise, language-appropriate, tone-appropriate, and easy to read. On occasion, I’ll get a 500-word paragraph from someone with the hopes of turning their blurted-thoughts into a proper email. Notion AI makes this a 30-second job, tops.
Translating emails for different languages. Our office is lucky enough to work with a wide array of folks from all cultures and backgrounds. Most often, this means we help new Canadians with their first tax return. Though first-time tax filing Canadians generally have a pretty strong grasp of the English language, Notion AI makes short work of any time I struggle to help a newcomer with a specific financial problem. It’s very easy to ask Notion AI to take a specific concept I’m trying to describe in English, translate it into a different language, and even change the tone of the translation to be easily understandable and appropriate for the situation. Then, I can put the translated blurb onto the conference room screen and the client(s) are easily able to read in their own language. This often makes me feel like I have superpowers.
A More In-Depth Look at One Specific AI Workflow
Here’s a closer look at the AI workflow I use most often: summarizing transcriptions.
I use Loom as a tool to communicate to clients between 5 and 10 times a day. Loom may be one of the most revolutionary tools our accounting office has implemented in the last 10 years — things we needed to have meetings for now can be communicated visually and professionally in the time it takes to demonstrate the topic on the computer. Loom has saved our office at least a few hundred hours of time in the first 6 months of usage.
One of the best parts of Loom is its auto-transcription service. As you’re talking and demonstrating on your screen, Loom is doing three things at once:
- Recording your screen
- Uploading the recorded video file
- Transcribing the video file
Loom does other things as well, including background noise reduction and more, but these are the three core things Loom does on-the-fly. As soon as you hit the “End Recording” button on your Loom video, the video is uploaded, transcribed, and ready for sharing with your recipients.
If I’m creating a Loom video for a standard operating procedure, I’ll copy the transcribed audio, paste the transcription into Notion, and ask the AI tool to provide two things:
- A summary of the transcription, which I can use at the beginning of the standard operating procedure to briefly describe what the Loom video is about.
- A step-by-step guide to complete the task I complete in the Loom video, which can be pasted as part of the standard operating procedure manual.
It’s crazy how much time AI cuts out of SOP creation. As simple as firing up Loom and performing the task, AI basically eliminates the need to write out anything specific related to the Loom video.
I use Loom video transcription — and voice dictation — features with Notion AI in other ways as well:
- After a meeting, I’ll dictate through voice dictation into TextEdit the various things discussed in the meeting. I then ask AI to create a set of meeting minutes from the dictated text, which I can quickly share to meeting attendees. I also ask for AI to break out the action items to ensure everyone knows their next steps after the meeting.
- If I shoot a Loom video for a client, I use AI to summarize the Loom video transcription, which I can then paste into the beginning of the email to better prepare the client for what’s in the video. Loom is still a new tool to many of our clients, so I work hard to make the videos approachable and easy to consume.
Of course, you could use Loom to record an entire video conference and then use Notion AI to summarize the entire recorded meeting. I’ve never tried this, as I imagine it would be difficult for AI to break apart who said what during the meeting in the Loom transcription, but perhaps someone could give it a try and see how it works.
I don’t know if I can wrap my head around the power and utility of AI at this point in time. GPT-3 and ChatGPT just debuted in December 2022, with a groundbreakingly new release of GPT-4 just 3 months later. The speed at which AI is evolving and permeating all of the best software is whiplash-inducing.
I’m also somewhat afraid to give away my AI secrets. For folks reading this article, these ideas are unlikely to be new, let alone a secret. But for folks in my industry and the region in which I work, almost nobody uses AI, let alone understands how to access the tool. I have been using AI for the last 3 months to make quick work of these types of tasks and folks constantly remark how insane it is that I can get so much work done in such a short period of time. AI is one of my secrets and I don’t want to fully let the rabbit out of the hat.
Nonetheless, the sorts of tasks noted above are perfect for AI to effectively eliminate from my daily work. They are short, quick, and repetitive, and the results are endlessly valuable to clients and people I work with. Notion AI has saved me probably 50-100 hours of work in the last 3 months, ensuring I’ve more than paid for the $96 annual Notion AI fee.
AI is freaky, there’s no doubt. But I look forward to seeing the ways folks use AI to improve their daily work.
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