I failed to write a blog post for 2 years. You wouldn’t call that a productivity, would you? Yes, I failed, mostly because I had so much to do (stupid and not viable excuse) and because I had no clear vision what I want to do with this blog (now I have it). I really beleive productivity comes after your sense of purpose, strong vision and clear goals. Without that, no productivity system will help you. But after you have all that, some work-related hacks can help you to achieve even more, be faster and more accurate.
Whenever new employee(s) comes to work at our digital agency, I give a short presentation to them on how to be more productive. This blog post will be a follow-up to that presentation. There are some well-know tricks on how to be more productive:
- schedule your day in advance
- don’t just schedule meetings, schedule work too
- check email only 3-4 times per day
- avoid social media as much as possible
But I am a geek, and I always try to find and use a software to help me achieve more. Here are some tools I use daily and recommend it to my colleagues.
This small program runs in a background and monitors all your activity while you sit on your computer; which programs do you use, what sites do you visit… It’s a good starting point to check where you “loose” time.
Diito for Windows / ClipMenu for Mac
This is a life saver, my friends. Simply said: these programs are multiple clipboard managers allowing you to copy and paste not just last item but last 100 items in your clipboard. We always work with a lot of text and we copy/paste all the time; it is fantastic to have a software to remember last 100 copied texts or even images. I set Cmd+Z on my Mac as a shortcut to Clipmenu and I have last 100 copied items there ready to be used again.
I use this software on my Mac, but there are many other solutions out there. We all have some snippets of text we use all the time; some email templates, email adresses and whatnot… Programs like TextExpander allows you to set shortcuts (or Snippets) for some most used texts, so you don’t have to type them every time. For example, I have a sales email that I send to our leads for the first time. I have a snippet “smail” so whenever I write “smail” in Outlook it immediately expands to a full email ready to be sent almost immediately. This software saves me at least 10-15 minutes every day which may not sound a lot, but eventually it adds up to a couple of hours per month. Definitely worth it.
Oh boy, I wouldn’t be able to live without this software. My eyes, at least. What flux does, copied from their website: it makes the color of your computer’s display adapt to the time of day, warm at night and like sunlight during the day. It is amazing when you get used to it and I always urge people to try it. I use 2700K (Tungsten) throught the day, but you can always set it up to match your needs and preferences. Flux is probably the best free software out there!
I hope you don’t use the same password for all websites. And when you work in a team, sharing password for various shared services (FTP, shared email logins, shared social media accounts…) some kind of password manager is essential. At Kontra we use LastPass and we’re happy with it. For on 2$ per user per month it is definitely worth of it; it saves so much time in our team and help us avoid questions like “what is the password for…”.
Pocket/any other Read Later software
I use Pocket every day. During the day, I always find articles that I would like to read, but don’t have at the moment. I save them to read later using Pocket, a small browser plugin that does one thing extremely well: it saves website to read later. In the evening (or whenever I have some free time) I use Pocked iPad/iPhone app to access all those articles.
There are many task-management apps out there. At Kontra we use ActiveCollab after trying Trello, Asana, Basecamp and Freedcamp. ActiveCollab proved to be the best for our needs and we’re very happy users, but my advice is to try as many as possible until you find the best one for you needs. But for “my tasks” I use Trello; it is fast, really to use and it has fantastic iPhone app. I just discovered a fantastic Trello addon; Buttler for Trello, which helps me automate some of my work.
Learn to touch type
Using web-based software like Typing.com and following all advices I got there improved my typing speed at least 40-50%. I type a lot and 40-50% improvement means a lot to me. Now I can touch type (I can type without looking at my keyboard) and be much faster and accurate. To be honest, in a first a couple of days you will hate me, hate yourself, hate the world and hate everything because switching from looking at a keyboard while you type to touch type is not that easy, but when you cross that walley of death you will be much faster and happier.
There are some other stuff I also use, but they deserve a separate blog post in a future.
- Have to handle email?
- How to block certain websites?
- Hardware stuff
What software do you use to boost up your productivity?