I'm very fortunate to work for a company that allows me to work from home, but I've been surprised at the challenges I've faced in this unique work environment. As an event producer, my job requires me to be extremely organized, something that doesn't always come naturally to me. Over the past year I've learned a lot about how I function best, and I've tested out a ton of techniques and tools in an effort to make myself as efficient as possible and get the most out of my time. I've compiled a list of my favorite tools and wanted to share!
Not my workspace. Wish it was. via
The Pomodoro Technique I easily fall into the trap of multi-tasking and The Pomodoro Technique helps me focus on one task at a time. It's simple and effective: set a timer for 25 minutes and work, work, work. Then take a 5 minute break. Repeat three more times and after the fourth 25 minute work session, take a 30 minute break. Not only does this improve my productivity, but it ensures that I get up and move around a few times an hour. We've all heard how sitting is killing us, and it freaks me out.
Evernote I'm sure I don't use Evernote to it's full potential, but it does allow me to keep track of the many lists I make from any device. While I don't use all its fancy features, I like knowing that it has a ton of capabilities that I can use at any time.
Tungle This is a tool I use just for work and it's one of the biggest time savers. My job involves a LOT of meetings and instead of going back and forth with someone via email about what times work best, I send them a link to my Tungle calendar and they can see when I'm available and set a meeting. It syncs with my Google Calendar and requires very little work on my part. Sometimes it makes me feel like a diva to say, "Here's my calendar, find a time!", but it saves time for both parties and I think people appreciate that.
IFTTT (If This Then That) Want to automatically send all of your Instagram pictures to Flickr? How about sending all "starred" emails in Gmail to Evernote? IFTTT can do it! They take various programs from around the web and create automatic actions. You just have to set up the action once and from then on it happens in the background. There are endless possibilities of different "recipes" you can create. This is another tool that I know I can use better and I'm really excited by the possibilities.
Google Calendar Duh.
Pen & Paper As much as I love to use all the fancy apps and tools to keep me productive and organized, nothing beats good old pen and paper. My daily to-do list? On paper. Important reminders? They're on a Post-it note stuck to my computer monitor. I (and probably most of you) spend so much time sitting infront of a screen that a digital to-do list just melts into the background. Not to mention there is always the risk of accidentally deleting it! Seeing my to-do list in a non-pixelated format just makes it stick in my mind better.
I can very easily get sucked into checking email first thing in the morning. It can quickly turn into a vicious cycle where I'm responding to people, they're responding to me, etc. To avoid this awful routine, I skim my email first thing for important/urgent messages. Once those are taken care of I dive into my important/urgent to-dos. Then it's back to my inbox to address the rest of my email and tackle non-urgent to-dos.
Another thing I've found works well is to check my email infrequently. My inbox is open all day every day, so it's hard to avoid peeking at it a few times an hour. Until recently I didn't think much of it, I just figured that was how most people do it (and it probably is), but I've found that checking only a few times a day keeps my stress level down and allows me to focus on other more important items.
Ok, you've made it to the end! This isn't always the most exciting topic, but I have a ridiculous interest in productivity and thought you might find it interesting. Also, Lifehacker has a great series they just started called "How I Work". Each week they tap a well known person to share the tools, techniques and spaces that help them get stuff done. It really satisfies my nosy curiosity of how people live and my fascination with productivity.
What are some of your favorite productivity tips and tools? I'd love to hear!