Your phone is buzzing. There’s something new demanding your attention. Your email inbox if shooting off new message notifications with wild abandon. Your social media alerts you to important new content faster than you keep up. Yes, it’s true, tech can certainly be a drain on your time. It’s easy to get distracted by the stuff on your devices (granted, that latest cat video was pretty awesome.)
On the other hand, technology can be a productivity game changer. Apps that help you organize your to-do list, manage your schedule, keep track of important ideas that popped up in the middle of your day…there’s no shortage of ways technology can help you get on the ball. The trick is finding the right tools. The following list of technology assists may be worth a second glance.
There is more than to this social media platform than a visual feast of recipes and crafts. Pinterest can be a powerful organizational tool to help you save any interesting articles and ideas for future reference. Let’s say you’re online doing research for a company project and while you’re poking around the web, you come across this very article. It’s chock-full of great tips, but you don’t have time to parse through the info and act on it right now. Go ahead and pin it to your “Productivity” board. It’s okay, we’ll be right here waiting when you can get back to reading this later at home on your tablet. By the way, Pinterest lets you create both “public” and “secret” boards so you can safely save links connected to your job search or ideas for your husband’s surprise birthday party without others accidently stumbling upon them.
You’ve been working hard all morning and you just want to pop on to Facebook to see whether your niece has shared another photo of that adorable new baby of hers. Before you know it – three recipes, another cat video, an exchange with your college roommate, and the link to that interesting article on sea turtles – you’ve wandered down the rabbit hole of social media. Sound familiar? The Google Chrome extension StayFocusd aims at fixing that by limiting the amount of time ‘time-wasting’ sites are accessible to you. Once you’ve overstayed your allotment on your social media sites, as an example, the extension will block those URLs for the balance of the day. The good news is it’s highly customizable, giving you control over what and when the padlock goes on.
“Google Drive / iCloud / DropBox”
You’ve got important files that need to be accessible on command, regardless of where you are and what device you’ve got access too. Cloud-based storage allows you to store, access and share files from anywhere at any time. Even better, top cloud storage apps like Google Drive, iCloud and DropBox start you off with an allocation of free storage, with the option to pay for additional space if you need it.
You feel like you’re doing everything right when it comes to maintaining your focus, and yet you still can’t seem to find enough time in your day to get it all done. You may be overcommitted, sure. You may also not be quite as tightly in the zone as you think. The RescueTime app will analyze your daily routine and highlight distractions and other productivity busters. This tool can also cheer you on by highlighting what you have accomplished and can help you limit the amount of time you access distracting websites.
Don’t overlook the value of good-old-fashioned low-tech productivity tools too. Paper notebooks and post-it notes should always be within arm’s reach. Both are great ways to jot down important thoughts and reminders – not to mention, research shows handwritten notes may be better for committing information to memory!
Also, don’t overlook the value of embracing your inner child. If you’ve ever brainstormed with a stress ball in one hand, you how a small gizmo or toy can help get those creative juices flowing, help you focus, or boost release a little a nervous energy. Looking for the right outlet? Try toys like a fidget cube or Thinking Putty.
Of course, the apps listed above are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to tools to help you work smarter. What tools are you using? Join the conversation over on LinkedIn and let us know!