I’m always on the lookout for things that will help me be more productive. If there’s a new way to do something better and more efficiently, I usually want to know where I can get my hands on it. So here’s a few things that have helped me lately:
- Evernote – If you aren’t using this tool yet, why not? Evernote is a web based software with desktop / iphone / ipad versions that keeps all of your thoughts, ideas, and things to remember organized. You can write notes, capture things with pictures, load documents, forward yourself emails, and lots more. Everything is organized, searchable, tag-able, and easy to access from every platform.
- Whiteboards – Ok, so this isn’t very high tech, but for me it’s one of my favorite things about my new office. I have lots of whiteboards covering most of my walls. I’m a person that needs to see things big. I like to be able to put up my thoughts, organize, see the big picture all at once. AND, it doesn’t have to be expensive. Home Depot sells whiteboard type material (I think it’s used for bathrooms somewhere) that you can buy for about $13 for a 4′ x 8′ section. I bought two and had them cut one in half. So I now have two 4′ x 4′ squares, and one full 4′ x 8′ whiteboard hanging on my walls. I hung them with Command wall hanging strips – so when it is time to move, there are no nails, screws, or any other marks that will be left on the walls. So whatever works for you, find a way to make it happen. For me there was a need to see things large. I found a cheap way to do it and it has changed everything for me.
- 30/30 app – Ok, so my newest and most favorite thing is this app. It is available for iphone and ipad. I use it primarily on ipad in my office. It is a totally customizable timer app that will run in the background even if you switch to other apps (which I am doing frequently). At the beginning of my day I start with my to-do list. With the app, I create timed events for each project I want to work on. I have found that I can work for 45 minutes to an hour on one single project before I need a change of pace. So I set up my projects, press play, and get to work. An alarm sounds when time is up and it’s time to move on to the next thing on my list. I don’t know what it is, but setting a timer on myself has REVOLUTIONIZED my work. I get way more done. I make decisions on things quicker. I don’t get bogged down on one thing, and it eliminates distractions for me. I know that I have 30 minutes scheduled later on for email, so I can turn it off right now and get to work on whatever is pressing.
One bonus thought:
I recently got an office outside of my home. I had no idea how distracted I was at home until I got here and was able to completely control my space and time. I estimate that I get 2-3 times more done now that I am outside of my home. AND while my kids miss me during the day, I think I am way more present with them when I get home. The line between working and being dad was always pretty fuzzy when they would see me throughout the day. In the evenings I found it easy to slip back into the office and answer another round of emails. Now, there’s a clear definitive line between work and home and my work and family life have benefited a ton.
Does any of this help you? What are you doing that makes your life work better? What is keeping you from getting more out of your day?