It’s that time of year again when things begin to step up a little in the run up to Christmas and uni is back underway. This inevitably means things can get a little busier, deadlines are closing in and we can start to put our health to the back of our minds now that we have more on our plates and bikini season is over (here in the Northern Hemisphere, at least).
For Part 1 of this series I thought it only made sense to start by highlighting what you might find helpful to have in your toolkit (that might not already be there) so that you can hit the ground running and are prepared for Parts 2 and 3. Having the right tools really helps to streamline everything so, hopefully, you won’t have to spend as much time as I did figuring out all the bits and pieces together you need to make life easier (and more productive, of course!).
What the hell has productivity got to do with your health?
Quite a lot actually. Essentially, the more productive you are the more time you have to look after yourself and do the things you enjoy. And the better you look after yourself the more clear-headed, focussed and ultimately productive you can be. So there is a lot of interplay between your productivity and wellbeing, and whilst it is very impotent that we fuel ourselves correctly, rest up and prioritise self-care, it is also important that we have the tools in place to an able us to do just that. Plus, who doesn’t want to get more done in less time?!
The Tech Tools + Apps
1. Self Control
Honestly, this is a game-changer. Basically, this app makes it impossible for you to visit sites that are on your blacklist for a customisable time frame, removing a myriad of distractions. Alternatively, you can use it like I do when I’m writing, by creating a whitelist instead and change the settings (super simple to do) so that you can only visit your chosen sites whilst all others are blocked. Goodbye, procrastination!
NB: Self Control is only available on Macs but I believe that for PC’s there are similar apps such as Freedom, though I can’t vouch for it since I haven’t used it.
It took me quite a while to be convinced that Evernote was the way forward but I found that the more I used it the more useful it became. I use it for everything from writing blogposts and notes to backing up all my blog posts and storing inspiration, lists and useful articles that I have read (and may need to refer to in future). Familiarise yourself with all it's functions and read their blog from time to time to make sure you get the most out of it. And be sure to download the the Web Clipper - unbelievably useful. You also have your notes with you at all times since the web version can be synced with your phone, computer and tablet. I use this almost exactly as Lisa Butler describes in this article (spoiler alert: the trick is to have a lot of notebooks with fewer notes in them). At the moment I still only use the free version as this is all I need but if I find that I need more space I would be prepared to pay.
I use Things for my to-do lists, rather than having 101 pieces of paper coming out of my ears. I love the filing system set up on Things so that you can create projects and customisable ‘areas’. I’m also big on aesthetics and love the recently updated and super simple interface. Again, this can be synced with the app on you computer. There are a ton of useful features like due dates, notes, tags, the built in email function. Although, due dates can be set so that you are sent a reminder for all of the days tasks at once, it is not possible to add individual reminders for tasks but since Things can be linked to Apple’s Reminders app and task that I really want an individual reminder for can be set up there and seamlessly imported.
Things is a paid application which I would argue is well-worth paying for after playing around with literally a dozen different apps for the same purpose and found that this one suited me best. If however, the price tag doesn’t appeal to you and you need more functions than Reminders provides I would suggest And.do (although this doesn’t work with Safari if that is your browser of choice) as a free version or Todist is another awesome (and very attractive) paid app that works on a subscription basis and offers a basic version for free.
1Password basically offers a secure place to store all your passwords so that you only have to remember one (incase, you hadn’t realised!) and can be synced with your phone and computer so that you always have access to them. It can also automatically generate random passwords for new accounts, store other pieces of information that you want kept safe and automatically fills in your information for the accounts you want it to.
I know others swear by Hootesuite and CoSchedule but after much trial and error Buffer is my method of choice. Scheduling saves me so much time and makes batching my work and social media posts (which I’ll share more on in Part 2) so much easier.
6. Rescue Time
I really like this app because it tracks your activity on your computer to give you a weekly report of your activity and a breakdown of what you have been spending time on. So easy and it requires nothing on your part. Well, accept for spending less time on unproductive activities if that's what you find your spending the most time on. It really helps to be aware of where you are waisting time.
This is an awesome project-management tool, much like BaseCamp but with an interface that I definitely prefer (i.e. way more customisable and visually pleasing). Plus, the most basic plan (which meets all my needs) is free. It is ideal for using in group projects and for team work within organisations. I also know of lots of freelancers that use this to work with clients (get their input and keep them updated). They also have iPhone and Android apps for you to use on-the-go.
Everyone seems to know about this one but it really is essential for file sharing, even if you do just get the most basic free account.
I love the Pomodoro technique (more on this in Part 2 so don’t fret if you are new to it) and this app makes it that much easier by removing the need to constantly waste time playing around with a timer (which completely defeats the purpose of this method!). There are a load of other apps that do something very similar but I find this to be the simplest to use.
Bonus Tip: Buy a portable harddrive. This is probably just common sense but let me tell you from personal experience that it is so worth backing your laptop up. Seriously, don’t forget this one.
Remember that these are my preferred apps and you might prefer others, which is completely fine and incase you don’t get along with my favourites I have included other recommendations for apps that I have also used and was pleased with.
Do you have any other apps that you love to keep you organised and productive? Share them in the comments!
P.S. Stay tuned for Part 2 of this series coming soon!
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