As entrepreneurs, we all want to be as productive as possible – after all, productivity is critically important for the self-employed, as more often than not, we only have ourselves to rely on in order to get the job done. The truth is, however, we’re all guilty of letting things distract us and sap our time. Think about how often you do the following:
- Open Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest/Instagram just to “have a quick look” only to find yourself still mindlessly scrolling through your newsfeed half an hour later.
- Read interesting blog posts that aren’t related to your work.
- Waste time looking for files on your computer or external hard drive.
- Get distracted by an incoming email and then take more than an hour getting back to the task at hand.
- Forget your passwords and spend precious minutes having to reset them.
These are just a few of the things that can derail all of our good intentions and set us back hours (and, sometimes, days). The good news, however, is that we can use technology to our advantage in order to block out distractions, streamline our work processes, and identify any time inefficiencies. There are myriad apps and websites that are available to assist with the quest for distraction-free work; here is a selection that will hopefully help you to reach your productivity goals.
There is nothing more frustrating (and time-consuming) than forgetting a password. Mitigate any risk of this happening on a regular basis by using a reliable password manager like RoboForm. This tool also helps you to generate strong passwords and fill out web forms fast.
This nifty collection of tools allows you to take control of when you send and receive emails. Boomerang enables you to write emails and then schedule them to be sent at the perfect time, giving you the power to work on clearing your inbox whenever it is most convenient (and less distracting) for you. There is also a reminder function that prompts you to follow up on emails that you’ve sent after a set timeframe.
The Internet can be both a blessing and a curse in equal measure; on the one hand, it’s impossible to imagine working without it, on the other, it’s also a portal to a million and one distractions. This is where RescueTime comes in handy. This software gives you detailed reports on which apps and websites you spend most of your time on. The premium version also blocks out any websites you deem as distracting (we’re looking at you, Facebook…) for a set amount of time.
Trello is particularly useful if you need to manage the workflow of a team. You get to see tasks as cards that are assembled onto virtual boards, which makes it easier for you to monitor who’s working on what, as well as the status of each task. You can also update all of your cards with comments, attachments, and other information. With everyone from start-ups to Fortune 500 companies using this, you know you’re onto a winner.
This daily planner helps you to plan your day as well as to stay focused by using the Pomodoro technique – a time management method through which work is broken down into intervals. When you pick a task from your to-do list, you are prompted to focus and work for 25 minutes and then take a five-minute break; the app encourages you to follow this rhythm until you have completed your task. It also enables you to track your time and see how many work sessions you’ve completed, during which times you worked, and how much you got done.