First off – I have to admit that as I type this, I’m pushing out a couple of responsibilities…or procrastinating…or not being productive. I’m justifying it by keeping an eye on the lasagna I have in the oven (supper made – productive, no?!) and throwing the frisbee for our dog.
The topic of productivity came up today, so I felt like I should probably chime in and offer my two cents; hopefully someone finds these tips useful!
1. Find productive background noise.
Typically, I will listen to podcasts while I work. However, I have a fairly strict rotation of podcasts I listen to (because change is hard!) and when those run out, I find myself consulting some background noise that allows me to be productive while I work. Here are some examples:
Consult Songza Concierge and choose something that doesn’t overwhelm you! For me, I tend to veer towards the Mellow Indie playlists because I know I’ll get carried away singing along to anything from the 90s (not productive). Alternatively, they have several stations that just play background noise.
Coffitivity claims to increase your creativity, keeping you at your best, by providing some background coffee shop noises. A lot of people find this helps boost their productivity; however, after five years of managing a busy Starbucks, this type of background noise stresses me out as I’m constantly waiting for the ‘rush’.
Stereomood was one of my favourite things to stream in my last cube farm job. 1 – we didn’t have a lot of options for things we were able to stream and this one was obscure enough that it hadn’t been blocked, and 2 – it lets you base your selections based on mood (Songza concierge does this too – but Stereomood came preceded Songza for me).
2. Let technology help you with your productivity.
There are tons of applications out there to help you with your productivity, and a few things I’ve heard good things about include:
Todoist is a to do list and task manager application; it allows you to enter in tasks (and group them under projects), and you can check things off the list as you complete each task (and we all know how fulfilling that can be)!
Inbox Pause – I don’t use this yet because I haven’t reached that level of popularity (either that or my clients have been very considerate), but I have friends and colleagues who use this and swear by it. Inbox Pause lets you set an ‘away message’ of sorts, letting folks know that you’ll respond when you’re available. Your email inbox is then paused and you are no longer distracted by all of the emails coming in (until of course you’re ready for such distraction).
Unroll.me has been the answer to all of my prayers! I cannot even explain to you how life altering this very simple procedure is. It’s free and it lets you select which subscriptions (I know they’re piling up in your inbox) you want to free yourself from (unsubscribe from) and which ones you want to receive in a daily ‘roll up’. This has been AH-MAY-ZING for me! Everyday I get my little digest and scroll through – if there’s been any action in the communities I’m apart of, I’ll take the opportunity to respond at this time instead of distracting myself throughout the day.
3. Group like items.
I’m not the most organized person on the planet, but one thing I find enhances my productivity is to group like items. Initially, I’ll group items based on delivery deadlines. Once that’s done, I’ll try and do all of my Microsoft Word together, all of my Microsoft PowerPoint work together, and all of my Articulate work together (and so on and so on). This has really helped me boost productivity because I’m not jumping around as often as I once was.
I’ve mentioned several times before, but using Parallels for Mac has also helped me out in the productivity department because it’s allowed me to ‘group like items’ in terms of my Operating Systems, and allows me to not jump back and forth between Windows and Mac OS to use some of the programs I use which are only native to one OS or the other.