Only a week to go till Christmas Eve! Everywhere looks very sparkly, the Christmas songs are coming thick and fast in the shops and if you’re anything like me, you’ll be frantically piling through the TO DO list trying to get everything in order before you take a few days of well-earned holiday. Fancy being more organised and productive next year? Then this gift is for you …
On the eighth day of Christmas the Proof Fairy gave me …
Eight Tasks Tackled!
I love productivity tools. In fact, if I spent half the time I research productivity tools on actually being productive I’d get a lot more done! But it does mean I can pass on recommendations to other people – and hopefully you’ll find a few of these tools help you be more organised and more productive too. So here are my 8 favourite tools for tackling tasks!
I’m the kind of person who relies on lists. If it doesn’t make it to the list, it doesn’t get done – it’s as simple as that. But I find paper lists a bit of a bind, and because I’m out and about a lot I need a list that I can access wherever I am, whenever I want to. If I wake up at 3am and remember something I need to do later in the day I want to add it to my list without leaving the warmth of my duvet!
And that’s where Todoist excels. It’s a free task management tool that’s available on computer, iPhone, iPad, Android, Windows phone … in fact, just about any device you use. In Todoist you create tasks, add projects, set deadlines, assign labels and tags – it’s a really powerful tool that will help you remember everything you need to do. And it’s free, too! Try Todoist here.
I’ve had an Evernote account for years but have only just discovered how effective it is. I use Evernote for capturing ideas, saving random information, or copying the entire content of web pages that I want to refer back to at a later date. I have several notebooks saved within my account and I can put things in the relevant book – blog ideas, ADHD stuff, travel plans, editing tips etc. I even have a link set up between my blog and Evernote to save every post I make, so I have the text in one convenient location. Not quite sure what I’d do without Evernote!
The basic Evernote account is free but there are some limitations, such as the size and number of notes you can save each month. The premium account is £4 month but click here and you can try out Evernote Premium free for a month.
I’ve been trying out Trello over the last few months and I have a feeling that at some point it might actually replace Todoist as my favourite task manager. I’ve become very interested in the Kanban method of working – where tasks are allocated for this week, tomorrow, today or in progress – as I like the idea of being able to see what’s coming up and having a small number of current projects, rather than juggling dozens of things. In Trello, rather than creating a task list you create projects and cards and you can move them around as much as you like. It’s an interesting take on task management and one I want to understand better in the coming months. (And if anyone knows a failsafe way to connect Todoist and Trello, please let me know!) Try Trello here.
Okay, a mobile email app might not sound like a productivity tool … but CloudMagic is different, and it saves me loads of time. I use Outlook for my emails during the day, but when I’m out and about or checking emails in the evening I use my iPhone or iPad, and CloudMagic has so many features it makes managing email dead easy! For example, deleting emails – and deleting hundreds at once – is really quick – so quick that I often delete my emails on the iPad while waiting for Outlook to boot up. I can set reminders to reply to emails in 2 hours, 4 hours or 24 hours – very useful if I get an email when I don’t have time to reply. But the best thing is that CloudMagic links with many other services – including Todoist, Trello and Evernote. I can add a new task, save a link or even add someone to a MailChimp mailing list directly from the CloudMagic app – which saves me loads of time and thus makes me more productive! CloudMagic is completely free, works on iOS and Android devices and you can find out more here.
This last one is not so much a productivity tool but a computerised pat on the back! Ever get to the end of a frustrating week and feel like you’ve not achieved anything? Then this tool is for you. Every evening iDoneThis sends you an email asking you to reply saying what you’ve done during the day. It keeps a record of your response on a calendar and at any time you can log in and see what you did on any particular day, or over a longer period of time. It’s as simple as that! The tool is actually designed for teams – the idea being that everyone sends one email a day listing their completed tasks, and then the collated responses are sent to everyone the following morning, so you can all see just what everyone else has been up to. However, I’m using this for my own personal use and I find it really motivating to look back and see just how much I’ve achieved. More at iDoneThis.com.
I’ve been using Dropbox for years and quite simply, I doubt I could run my business without it. I store all my files in it (I use it as my main Documents folder) and can access any file wherever I am and from any device. I can share links to files with other people, give specific people access to a folder (for example, my VA and I have a shared folder which means we’re not forever emailing things backwards and forwards) and I can store large files like MP3s and share a link publicly too.
Dropbox is free for up to 2GB of storage, but click here and you’ll get an extra 500MB completely free!
LastPass bills itself as “the last password you’ll have to remember” and it has simplified my life no end. Because I work with so many clients I have dozens of passwords for social media accounts, websites and MailChimp accounts. My memory is hopeless, but I don’t like having them written down anywhere – far too insecure – so I use LastPass to remember them for me. With LastPass you set up one super-secure password and then import all your other passwords – or let it find them on your computer. You can also use it to generate uber-long passwords for new sites. The basic account is free, though I pay for the premium one as that gives me mobile access too. More info here.
This final app will be of interest to anyone who wants to write but finds themselves easily distracted. Download the app (Windows only at present), tell it how many words you want to write, or how long you want to write for and it will block you from doing anything else until you’ve achieved your target! So if your New Year’s Resolution is to write a thousand words a day but you just don;’t quite know how you’ll do it, give Forcedraft a go!
So those are my eight favourite productivity tools of 2014. I’m sure by this time next year I’ll have wasted *ahem* spent a lot more time researching new tools and will have new favourites!
I’d love to hear what productivity tools you find indispensable. Do let me know!