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We all want to be more productive, right? But somehow our best intentions rarely lead to an actual lift in productivity. Start getting real results from your workday with our guide to the best tips, tricks and apps to save you time and help you get more done.
Wanting to get more done but struggling to find the time? Perhaps one of these five pockets of time is going unused during your workday.
Whether it’s reading up on notes from yesterday’s meeting or setting up your task list for the day, there are lots of ways you can get a head-start on your day as you head to work. Even if you’re driving and don’t have your hands free, there’s no need to see this as wasted time.
Try listening to some upbeat music or a fun audio book to put you in a good mood before you get to the office. This will give you a better chance of getting stuck into your workload immediately. You could also use this time to create a to-do list or notes with the voice recorder on your phone.
It’s fairly standard practice these days to check emails, phone messages and social media first thing in the morning. Reading blogs and RSS feeds probably come next. Maybe catching up on industry news or current affairs or a quick chat with co-workers as they come in. How long do you spend doing these things before you get stuck into your workload?
Why not try jumping right into your task list? If you plan your day before you leave the night before, you can get going straight away. Put some small but important tasks at the top of your list to give you a nice running start and knock off as many as you can when you first hit the desk.
If you’re waiting for people to show up or just for a meeting to get started, you’re probably thinking this is a frustrating hole in your day when you could be getting things done. As everyone else starts chatting about their weekend or playing Angry Birds, try using this time to take care of small tasks.
Look over your to-do list and add any tasks you might have forgotten. Draft that important email you need to write this afternoon. Make a list of points to discuss in your next meeting. Even if you only getting started on a task, you’ll get a little productivity boost and make better use of your time.
How much time do you spend waiting for elevators? Or inside elevators, waiting to get to your floor? If this is something you do on a regular basis, all those small pockets of time could add up to a good chunk over a week or two.
If you have meeting notes to read, ideas to jot down or tasks to add to your to-do list, these can all be done quickly while you wait for the elevator.
If you’re using your morning commute to get things done, you’re probably thinking you deserve a rest on the way home, right? But being more productive doesn’t necessarily mean you should always be working.
The point is to get more out of your day by using your time wisely.
Maybe you can get out of the office 15 minutes early and take some reading with you to get done on the train. Or listen to some soothing music as you drive to help you battle the traffic calmly. If you carry your to-do list with you, you could use this time to plan your schedule for tomorrow morning (see point 2).
This social task manager lets you create to-do lists from your computer or phone and carry them around with you. It has Google Calendar and email integration, push and browser notifications and lets you collaborate with others.
Google’s calendar is great for keeping track of your appointments no matter where you are. You can invite people to attend your events, make recurring events and create events through many third-party applications.
You’ve probably heard of Evernote before but if you haven’t signed up, it’s worth trying. This free app helps you to collect and organize everything from recipes you find online to hard-copy receipts.
Perhaps the most well-known read-later app, Instapaper lets you save articles and blog posts to a reading list. You can then access these from your computer, phone or Kindle reader.
Another popular app you’ve probably heard of is Dropbox. This cloud service is perfect as a backup for photos or documents, or just a way to carry files around with you. Your dropbox account syncs with your mobile device and various computers to ensure you always have access to your files while they are stored safely in the cloud.
Do you make to-do lists but never complete them? Maybe your list could use some work. Try these five tips to make your tasks easier to complete.
Write down exactly what you need to do and add any important details like names, dates and phone numbers. The less you need to think about when completing the task, the quicker it will get done.
Making a short note about why you need to complete a task will give you a little extra motivation when it comes to actually getting it done. This could be as simple as a dollar figure of how much you’ll get paid when the task is done. If you need stronger motivation you might use the potential for a holiday or promotion as a reminder of a task’s importance.
For big projects that have several steps, try to split these up into more manageable chunks. Beginning a half-day project is a lot more daunting than just working on the first step.
Don’t let your to-do list get lost among the papers on your desk or in a folder where you can’t see it. If you really want to get through it, put it somewhere visible and keep it there. The visual reminder will keep it fresh in your mind so it doesn’t get ignored.
Digital task lists usually let you set email or pop-up reminders. Some have alarms for your phone. If you prefer an analog approach, you might want to try visual reminders as well like stickie notes on your computer screen or clipboard.
Next time you need a boost to get you going, try one of these great posts.
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Your turn: What’s your best tip for a more productive day? Leave us a comment below and let us know.
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Belle Beth Cooper
Belle has spent the past four years as a freelance writer and social media consultant. She has written for The Next Web, Desktop Magazine and Social Media Examiner. Belle now spends her days wielding a pencil as Attendly's Head of Content.