Technology, when used effectively and efficiently can help us maximise our productivity and boost our performance. When we’re not in control of technology and it dictates and punctuates our day by hijacking our attention, it can put a dent in our productivity.
So how do we leverage the benefits technology offers us so we can use it as our servant (not be its master), the way it was intended to be used? Here are some of my favourite digital tools* that enable me to get the most out of my work days.
1. Momentum- set goals and minimise distractions with this browser extension. It’s a personal Internet dashboard. You can use your own inspirational images, set quotes, state your daily focus and track your To-Do list, so every time you open a new web page tab, you’re reminded of your focus tasks and less likely to succumb to distractions (such as scrolling news sites).
2. Calendly- stop sending ping-pong emails to arrange a convenient time for a meeting or an interview. Use an online booking tool like Calendly to allow colleagues or clients to book a time with you, according to your availability. This tool syncs with your calendar and can even send reminders.
3. Forest- find yourself in a state of digital distraction? You attempt to engage in ‘deep work’ but before you know it you’re checking your voicemails and then you find yourself quickly checking social media or the cricket scores. Forest is an app that works on iOS and Android devices that gamifies your focus- basically the longer you can stay off your phone, the more rewards (in the form of real trees being planted) you obtain.
4. Siri/Google Assistant- these tools are now more than a voice-assistant and are now more of a personal assistant thanks to AI (artificial intelligence). Use the tools to create commands that initiate a series of events to automate tasks. For example, you jump in the car and ask Siri to open Maps, enter the destination of the meeting in your calendar and launch your favourite podcast. You can also integrate third-party apps that enable you to order your coffee, or find your keys by asking your ‘assistant’.
5. RescueTime– this is a digital tool that runs in the background on your computer, phone, and tablet to show you exactly how you spend your time and allows you to block digital distractions. You receive a weekly report so you can see exactly how productive (and distracted) you may be and where you’re spending your time.
6. Loom- stop sending verbose or complicated emails. Use Loom, a screen and video recording tool extension, that allows you to easily record and share screen recordings.
7. Delay Send– I’m a ‘lark’ (an early riser) and often wake up at 4am to tackle some work. I typically do an hour of deep work and then triage my inbox (using a time-blocking technique). One of my strategies to handle email efficiently is to avoid double-handling it, so if I open an email during my triage time and can respond in less than 2 minutes I do it then and there. However, I understand some people don’t like waking up to a bombardment of emails that are sent in the early hours so I use the ‘send later’ option in Gmail (you can do the same in Outlook with the ‘Delay Delivery’ option).
8. Pocket- is a digital content curation tool. You might be scrolling LinkedIn on the commute to work and discover an interesting article just before you disembark. You don’t want to sit at your desk and go down the online rabbit-hole. So save your favourite articles, videos, and stories from any publication, page or app with Pocket and then you can batch when you consume this content (at a time that’s not encroaching on your productivity).
9.LastPass– we all know that we should have strong passwords, but just when we do, we find it difficult to actually remember it (tell me I’m not the only one with digital dementia). It will not only generate strong (lengthy and complicated) passwords, but it will also help with your ‘digital dementia’ by recalling and populating your passwords. It also provides a seamless and secure way to share passwords with others (without having to share via SMS or email).
10. Notes- I often say, “The basics work, if you work the basics.” Don’t overlook basic tools like Notes (iOS) ColorNote or Google Keep (Android). Have a quick way to record ideas that drop in whilst you’re sitting in a meeting or in traffic (not suggesting you use your device whilst driving) and then recall these at a later date.
Technology is great when we’re in control and use the tools intentionally. The trick is to match the right tool to the right task and ensure that the technology actually makes us more productive or uses our time more efficiently.
*Please note, none of these are affiliate links or part of any referral program. These are products I genuinely like and use and hope they’ll serve you too.
Interested in Dr Kristy speaking in your workplace or event about digital productivity?
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