Productivity tools allow you to add automation to your workflow to discover areas of your workflow that could be eliminated or even outsourced. The aim for us here is to work more efficiently, meaning we spend less time behind a computer screen and more time enjoying the wonders of life. Don’t get too caught up within the software though, for example online tools that produce fancy mind maps or to do lists. Sometimes you can find yourself spending too much time perfecting and creating the perfect, fancy to do list, where as you should be spending time actually completing tasks off that to do list. Online and Offline tools should be used to increase work productivity, not to distract us away from it.
Offline Productivity Tools
Productivity doesn’t just happen at your computer, and offline tools can play a huge part in increasing work productivity. Personally I don’t
use a lot of offline tools when working online, but they can be really handy in every day life. Here are some you may want to consider
An Alarm – Alarms are annoying, but they are actually vital pieces of equipment. Everyone produces the best work at different times of the
day, you may be able to get most out of your creative side after midnight or you may be more creative first thing in the morning. I’m personally more creative first thing in the morning, so an alarm is vital to me. Don’t get me wrong, I used to hate waking up early, but when you start getting into a routine you’ll discover a newfound love for early mornings. I tend to wake up at half 6 each morning, I shower, eat breakfast and then crack on about half 7. You’ll be surprised about how much more energy you have throughout the day when you get into a new routine of not only early mornings, but productive and inspirational mornings.
Notepad – Some of your best ideas and best content will come by taking yourself away from your computer and completely offline. I tend to take a notepad down to a quiet spot in my local area, or on vacation with me and I simply sit and brainstorm some ideas. Remember we don’t want to think too much about ideas, as taking action is what’s important, but I’ve come up with some of my best ideas while I’ve been in a quiet space, away from my desk and computer. Find somewhere that might inspire you, or somewhere close to your heart. (When my dad and grandma died, we helped build a bench made out of oak tree. We had this bench made and placed it at a local nature reserve overlooking a large field, trees and flowers. This is my power place, I seem to get so much inspiration as soon as I enter the nature reserve, and I always come home with ideas ready to implement straight away. Think of somewhere you like going, and take a notepad with you.)
Post It Notes – There are various pieces of software that allow you to remind yourself of tasks, but sometimes good old post it notes are just
as good. When I was at school/college and revising for a test, I used to write questions and answers on post it notes and post them around my
house and bedroom. Noticing them really helps reinforce things, and even writing down the note in the first place will reinforce your mind to
remember it. It can be anything from a task you shouldn’t do each day, a task you need to do, an affirmation or simply a technique you’ve learnt which you need to remind yourself of. Place the notes next to your bed, on your ceiling, on your fridge, near your shower, on your computer screen, wherever! When you notice the note more than once, your mind is going to start registering it and making it more of a natural thought.
Visualization Board – I made my first visualization board about a year ago after watching the film The Secret. A visualization board is simply a
collection of images of who you want to become and what you want to achieve. The idea behind the vision board is basically what I spoke about in the first chapter and the teaching that thoughts create. When you surround yourself with images of what you want to become, what you want to have, where you want to live, and what you want to achieve, you visualize yourself living that way in the present moment and your life changes to match those images and those desires. It helps you focus your thinking on what you want, and when you do that, it’s like the universe gives you ideas on how to achieve it. It becomes almost like a visual and verbal articulation of your goals. You can use it to remind yourself to take actions if you want these goals to show up. I’ve made 2 visualization boards in my time, and they’ve been extremely powerful. In fact looking back at the first visualization board I created, I’ve achieved 90% of what I visualized.
Family/Friends – The best offline tool you can use hands down is family and friends. I struggled big time to make anything of my business when
I had surrounded myself with negative thinking, demotivated friends. I’d pitch an idea to them and most of them would laugh, or tell me I couldn’t do it. They’d tend to turn around to me and say, “when are you going to get a real job?” It put a lot of doubt in my mind and I started to wonder to myself whether I could achieve it or not. What did this attract? More doubt and more worry and absolutely no success.
Now I used the 80/20 rule to eliminate friends I didn’t need, and to surround myself with people who believe in me and my forward movement. I started to talk as if success had already happened online, and of course it all started to happen quicker than I expected! You’ll find that the friends and family you have around you at the moment who don’t believe in you, can easily be eliminated. I cut contact with them for a few weeks and they never bothered to continue calling anyway, as they weren’t true friends. The friends and family I have around me now, will help motivate me and keep me on the path I’m on. I couldn’t do it without them, and I’ve also influenced the majority of them to do something similar. There’s nothing more rewarding than helping a close friend or family member achieve a better life. Think about your friends and family for a minute, is there any that drag you down? Who supports you? Eliminate the ones who give you negative energies and focus more of your attention on the ones who give you positive energy.
Online Productivity Tools
There are a variety of online tools I use and a few more that I’m going to recommend to you to increase productivity. The list I’m going to provide isn’t a MUST HAVE list, so don’t go out and purchase every single tool I mention. Change the way you work and be conscious of bad habits arising, and when you start to realize what bad habits continue to creep up, look for a tool to help eliminate that. For example, I was working more efficiently but still couldn’t handle my email addiction. I still had the urge to check emails about 15 times a day. The simple installation of an online tool called Antisocial and I could block email and social sites completely for a set period of time. I blocked my emails from when I started until 11, and then I blocked them again after I’d finished responding until 4pm. Dependent on how you work or the nature of your business, one tool may appeal to you more than another. Here are some of the tools I’ve used in the past and I’d recommend:
Antisocial & Freedom – They’re probably the number one online tool I used to increase my productivity. I don’t use them as much now because my new thought pattern means I don’t have the urge to regularly check my emails and Facebook but they we’re a lifesaver. Antisocial and Freedom are two different tools, but are very very similar. You simply install the application onto your PC/MAC and when you decide to run it, you’ll be prompted with a text field to enter sites you want to block. Alongside these sites you decide to choose, it will also block email access and all social media sites. You then choose how long for (up to 420 minutes normally) and enter your system password. It’s as simple as that, and the only way you can check any social sites or emails is by restarting your computer. We all know how annoying restarting is when we’ve got hundreds of applications and web browsers open right? I tended to use Antisocial more, but they both serve basically the same function.
Rescue Time – Rescue Time is a piece of software that tracks the time you spend online. It really is a clever tool, as it tracks everything in the
background while you’re working, you don’t even know its there! It doesn’t just tell you you’ve been on the internet either, it will give you a
list of which specific websites you visit and what software you’ve been focusing your attention on. Rescue Time will track what you’re spending your time on and not everything you have open, alongside this when you walk away from your computer to take a break, it will automatically detect that you’ve left and stop tracking. How cool is that? You can categorize websites by using tags so you know where your time is going also. Rescue Time has a bunch of defaults for many popular applications and websites, but if not simply add a specific website or application to a category so you get a better outlook on where you spend your time each day. You get good web based reports, alongside daily and weekly emails regarding your efficiency. There are a lot more features, but Rescue Time is defiantly an awesome tool to track where you spend your time each day without knowing its watching you… I’m pretty certain there’s a FREE version, and then a pro version which is only $9 a month.
Evernote – Evernote allows you to easily capture information in any environment using whatever device or platform you find most convenient, and makes this information accessible and searchable at any time, from anywhere. Use Evernote to jot notes, create to-do lists, clip entire Web pages, manage passwords, and record audio. Everything added to Evernote is automatically synchronized across platforms and devices and made searchable. Evernote will even recognize printed or handwritten text in photos and images. I’ve been using Evernote for about 9 months now, and the fact I can synchronize everything together makes it so much easier for me. I can view photos/to do lists/not to do lists on my phone, computer, friend’s computer, in an Internet café etc. It’s really easy to use and defiantly one of my favorite pieces of software for to do and not to do lists.
Remember The Milk – I love Remember The Milk because it’s so simple to use. When we’re creating to do or not to do lists, we want to get them made quickly and we want to be reminded about the important tasks. Some of the other tools online for creating lists are pretty hard to use and focus more on the graphical side of things. Who needs a good looking to do list? Not us! Remember The Milk is easy to use, has a simple interface anyone can pick up within minutes and it can send a task reminder through the phone app, or email. It’s also free.
Concept Share – Concept Share simply allows you to collaborate with your clients, or anyone that you invite into your workspace. You can
import any image, or website, and everyone involved can make notes, draw, point lines and chat all in the same window. I love concept share
because all of my team are virtual, so it kind of develops an office environment. We can all be in one workspace at once and we can brainstorm ideas, and collaborate. It can be used for a variety of professions, but typically it works well for creative tasks such as web design or graphic designing. If you ever need to share your current work then Concept Share is the perfect choice. You can add anyone to a specific workspace you create and you can get collaboration done fast and easy. You can also sign up for a free trial to see how it goes…
Tree.io – Last but no means least, Tree.io includes a variety of productivity tools. It includes a project management platform, automated service support, sales management, messaging, finance management, document storing, calendars and reports and so much more. It really offers something for every area of a business, and can really help automate the majority of your daily tasks. Users can add projects and set milestones and deadlines, which is defiantly a key feature for us. I like Tree.io and have used it before in the past, but sometimes unless you need to automate a huge bulk of your workload it isn’t worth it. Signing up to a service like this can really sometimes overcomplicate things, where as simpler tools and applications like Evernote and Antisocial are more beneficial.
There are so many more tools on the market today, but I’ve only highlighted a few which will help automatically. Think about your situation, and what it is you need to work on, and find a tool that will help. Below are some more I’ve been recommended, but have never really used long enough to give an honest review on.
• Goals On Track
• 30 Boxes
• Fresh Books