Now that we’re head’s down into 2018, it’s time to take a look at how our productivity tools are working out.
Productivity is something we all strive for, but it’s also hard to define. Unless you are one of those charmed life people (whoever they are), you’re probably bemoaning how you have so much to do, and so little time. Am I right?
There’s a difference between being organized and being productive. Einstein’s desk was a hot mess and we can all agree he was productive. Does being organized make you more productive? Sure. But again, what is your idea of being organized?
Time management also figures into productivity. If you’re goofing off on Facebook for hours a day and cramming client work at night, are you nonproductive or a person who thrives under pressure?
Let’s just agree that productivity is a nebulous term that means we all get our stuff done on time and clients love us for it. This is important for virtual assistants who must largely self-manage. Productivity is much more immediate for virtual assistants, paid by task, who must meet client deadlines or lose business. If you’ve worked from home you know the chill factor can overwhelm your mind and body, and before you know it you’ve been staring into space for the past 20 minutes.
When I think about what kills my productivity, certain types of situations come to mind. This is how I formed my researched for apps to provide solutions.
Here’s my wishlist:
- App to help me not forget stuff
- App to stop me from goofing off on the Internet
- App to help me organize tasks without taking a million years to understand
- App to help me bravely delete emails from most of humanity
- App to prevent me from sending emails with embarrassing mistakes
Below are some simple apps that are easy and fun to use. Try these out and see if they help you stay on track, too!
One of the great things about being a virtual assistant is having a flexible schedule. It’s super conducive to being a parent – until you worked all day and forgot to get your tots their cereal and your spouse their vegan ice cream.
That’s when you can’t leave your home office because your family has turned against you and is plotting your demise. Since you work from home and they were, you know, sweating it out at kindergarten and an office job, you have no excuse.
Moral of the story: use this app and don’t forget to do the grocery run.
The premise of this tree growing app is simple: plant a seed and the longer you stay on the app, the seed grows into a tree. Leave the app to goof off on Facebook and the tree withers. The catchphrase for this app is “Stay focused, be present”. Perhaps that’s a good mantra for productivity, especially now that we all need to be moving away from multitasking.
These habit training apps don’t always work – in fact, the stress of keeping your tree alive may consume more of your thoughts then just whitelisting some sites and taking a break. However, if you find yourself obsessed with your cell phone way more than you need to be, growing a tree is a great way to withdraw. (You can get the freebie version, also, which is Flora).
There’s a hell somewhere for developers that make organizational apps that slowly drive you insane just trying to figure out how to use them. I hope that hell is the same Kafkaesque nightmare I was in recently testing apps. That was until the heavens opened and angels sang to the tune of… Clear Todos
It’s a list, people. A simple to do list. A sunset ombre color scheme that combines tasks and reminders. You look at your phone, and there’s the stuff you have to do. In a few minutes, you will have your life back on track. Yes!
I realize there are two words that pull me into an eternal email marketing cycle: “free download”.
And that’s when it starts, folks.
The emails from the chipper marketer who wants to be my friend, sell me a course, tell me all about their personal revelations and basically email me for the rest of eternity. I could unsubscribe but that would be too easy and make too much sense. FOMO is a real thing.
SaneBox is not free, but it’s worth a few bucks to stop the madness. By providing prompts, SaneBox recognizes what business or personal emails are relevant. These go to your inbox.
The rest? Those ones get filed away into a backend folder… forever. With any type of email automation, the more you tweak it, the better it gets. You’ll be amazed at how much you don’t miss the onslaught every morning when you open your email.
So we’re all in love with Grammarly, right? If you want to take it a step further, WhiteSmoke is the tool for you.
WhiteSmoke evaluates your writing and offers suggestions for improvement. Learn your strengths and weaknesses based on ratings broken down into categories such as sentence structure, redundancy, and length. The more you become aware of your grammar and syntax whoppers, the better your writing will become.
WhiteSmoke isn’t cheap and is better utilized as a tool for professionals who write on a daily basis. The benefit of this tool is you’re much less likely to send out slipshod emails, business proposals or online articles. If you don’t have an editor in real life, WhiteSmoke will tide you over.
Sometimes, what it takes to get out of a rut is a new perspective. If you’re feeling low on productivity, mixing it up with some new apps is worth a try.
Just remember, apps for productivity only work if they make your life easier. If it’s taking you hours to figure out how to work an app, delete it and try something else.
Now, if only there was an app to stop cats from walking on my keyboard! Maybe I should invent one!
What apps do you use to stay on track? Share your thoughts below!