6 simple & easy tools to increase your productivity now
I’m such a big fan of utilising as many, or as few apps, as I need to ensure I spent the minimal amount of time organising myself and the maximum amount of time focusing on tasks which add value, or, even better, mean I can work less, learn more and just generally enjoy my life!
We could all stand to be a bit better with our time. By better managing our time we can help improve the fact that many of us are overwhelmed and overworked and aren’t giving ourselves enough time to have fun, relax or just be us.
Below are the 6 tools I use everyday to ensure my life is as organised and simple as possible and I’m not wasting time working out what I need to do or ‘working for works sake’ as many ‘busy’ people do. Studies have sown that if you’re organised and you know clearly the 5 things you need to achieve per day, you are more likely to achieve more, be happier and be less anxious. Imagine a world where you arrive in the office/at your workspace knowing you’re going to have fun today. You’re going to enjoy what you’re doing because you know the key tasks which need to be ‘done’ and you can spend some time doing something creative, learning something new or just taking some time off over lunch to have a conversation with someone.
There are so many different apps on the market, these are the ones which I feel are the most simple and easy to use if you’re just starting out in the world of time creation. There are many others I haven’t mentioned in this blog which definitely have huge merit, but if you feel I’m desperately missing something, let me know in the comments!
1) Your to do list: Any Do
Any.Do is the top of my list when it comes to efficiency. It’s an award winning app yet surprisingly not very well known. Of all of the task apps I’ve used Any.Do is the one which keeps things simple but still has all the functionality you need. I manage my entire life on Any do through various lists, one per business/project and one for personal tasks. It’s like kanban ‘light’ making things really simple and easy to manage. If this is your first move into project/task management software and apps I think Any Do is a great place to start.
- It’s super simple
- It integrates across all platforms
- It has enough functionality to be useful for the advance Project Managers amongst us but isn’t overwhelming to newbies
- You have to pay to get the full functional experience
- The syncing can sometimes be a little slow
- It’s not the best collaboration tool – this is a one man band app in my opinion, collaborative projects should be on Trello
2) All your notes in one place: One Note
Onenote or Evernote? For me it’s hands down One note with it’s fantastic syncing ability, it’s user friendly interface and it’s ease of organisation. One note takes note taking to a whole new level, whether you’re running a project, planning a wedding or revising for an undergraduate degree, One Note is essentially the only Note taking app you will need. It’s free, but if it wasn’t, I’d pay for it. It has so many different tools and abilities built into it you could run your entire life solely from it. I suggest having one notebook per project and then making the most of the unlimited sectons and pages within these sections you can create.
- It’s free
- It has every feature you could ever need
- It’s syncs across all platforms
- If you don’t know how to use it properly you can get in a muddle, spend some time thinking about how you best want to organise yourself
- It’s a bit buggy, mine crashes every now and then
3) An email tool which does some of your work for you: Spark
When I see someone managing their email on the Gmail site on Chrome or Safari I actually get stressed. Google is fantastic at so many things but, in my opinion, not it’s email interface. It’s clunky and overly complex. About 2 years ago I downloaded Spark due to it’s tagline ‘love your email again’. Spark is by far the most advanced email client there is. It manages your email in a way no other app does, splitting things into sections so your important emails are never mixed in with your newsletters or notification emails. Spark is always bringing out new features including email templates and awesome collaborative ability. Unfortunately Spark is only available on iOS meaning I never even look at my emails on my phone (Huawei P20) as I find every other app causes me huge stress. Maybe a good thing?
- The advanced way it separates your important and unimportant emails
- New features arriving all the time
- Saves a huge amount of time
- Only on iOS
- Has a default annoying notification sound which you need to turn off
4) Easy project management: Trello
‘Infinitely flexible, incredibly easy to use’. Of all the project management tools that are out there (Asana, Monday, etc) Trello is by far the easiest. It’s free and it’s quick. You can set up a board in seconds, meaning you can set up a project in seconds. It’s hugely collaborative and has unlimited use. I use Trello whenever I need to collaborate with others on a project be that Web & Graphic Design, Sales and Marketing, overall Business Management or evening Content planning! It’s without a doubt the easiest tool to get started on and once you’ve got used to working in a ‘kan ban’ way you’ll never go back. (Backlog, In progress, complete)
- Easy to learn and even easier to set up
- Not advanced enough for seasoned Project Managers
- There are some annoying features missing making it doesn’t seem as though Trello doesn’t listen to user feedback which always puts me off a product
5) All your passwords in one place: Dashlane
Passwords are without a doubt the bain of everyones lives. Before Dashlane I used to spend a considerable amount of time each day working out where which password was. Dashlane isn’t free, but it’s worth the investment. Not only does it store passwords, it will auto log you on to sites once you arrive once you’ve set it up to integrate.
- Never panic about finding passwords
- Completely secure
- Auto log in
- It’s not cheap, I think I paid around £30 for the year
- It can get confused if you have more than 1 login for a site and can waste time auto logging you in when actually you don’t want to
6) Taking time to calm your mind: Headspace
This is a bit of a surprise one when it comes to productivity but arguably it’s going to be the one that takes you from stressed and overwhelmed to calm and collected. Meditation and I have had a very difficult journey, it’s how I imagine some people feel about the gym. You know you need to do it but you have SUCH a hatred for it you can’t even bear to think about going. Anytime I’ve tried to meditate it’s like someone has turned up the volume in my ears onto Scream FM and every thought, person, place that I’d ever been or seen went flying past my eyes, sound famililar? It took me 5 years of trying for 2 minutes and quitting before my body and mind finally said that we NEED this. It was after reading Gabby Bernsteins ‘The universe has your back’ that I finally got into it. I was so jealous of how at peace she was! It’s a bloody good book if you haven’t read it.
Anyway, back to Headspace. It’s a really simple app, and the guys voice is soothing but not in an annoying way, it’s kind of like a voice you’ve heard before but it isn’t patronising or overly zen, it’s just a caring, calming voice. Headspace has a beginners programme or you can launch straight in with programmes from 10, to 30 days on different themes depending on what you feel you need. I recommend doing the ‘basics’ for a few days then moving into a programme you feel is relevant to you. Just trust me that after 3 days you won’t hate it. Also, it’s not woo woo, all the successful business leaders, actors, tv personalities do it, it’s not really a question of if you should do it but when are you going to get out of your own way and get on with it.
- Accessible meditation to help us to calm our minds and enjoy ‘real relaxation’
- The speakers voice is perfect
- It’s easy to use
- You have to pay (but it’s worth it)
- Sometimes it crashes in the middle of a meditation – has happened to be once in about 7 times but it’s still annoying (and normally means I fall asleep as I haven’t noticed it’s crashed).
I hope this list has been helpful! I’d love to hear from you about the tools you use so I can keep everyone up to date with the best stuff out there!
Happy productivity <3