You might be a freelancer, or you might be running a business – it doesn’t matter. Productivity will matter to you. Technology has transformed our abilities when it comes to running a successful business and how we manage our day to day lives. The impact is undeniable. But, if you aren’t implementing technology in the right places, you might find that you aren’t maximizing your potential. It is amazing how technology can help businesses improve efficiency.
Large brands have had to change what they are doing in terms of marketing and sales too. Consumers like things to be accessible 24/7, with access to the brands via social media, and the response time needs to be quick also.
Technology, when applied purposefully, can bring your products and services to more countries than you probably ever thought imaginable.
But how do you then handle the increase in exposure and in sales? You implement more technology – of course!
This might be the most obvious mention. But the ability to communicate quickly and effectively has never been more optimal. While traditional letterbox mail and phone calls have their place. The speed of social media, emails, and group chats has surpassed most people’s wildest dreams.
If your communication is ineffective, even in a small way, you are losing time and money.
Slack and Whatsapp groups are now a mainstay in keeping communication quick and clean. Slack has more integration options which allow you to share files and more.
If you are a freelancer, you can still take advantage of the speed of social media, instant messaging, and chat platforms to keep your clients updated.
Phones on desks, chatting with people on social media, checking emails every few minutes. Switching between tasks actually costs you time. Your brain needs between 15-23 minutes refocus on the task at hand. And, that isn’t as in you must be focusing because you’re working, but instead that you are producing your best work as you are only tackling the task at hand.
So, start to pay attention to your time stealers. Are you picking up your phone at every notification? Turn them off, or turn your phone over, or put it in a draw.
Set up a focus time tracking app. This will help you master the Pomodoro technique. It gives you a period of pure focus, then a five-minute break in between. You can shorten or lengthen the time of your poms, but in general, they tend to be set around 15-20 minutes. After 4 of the 20-minute slots, and the 5-minute breaks, you are given a more extended break.
The breaks should be used to top up your water, stretch your legs, but not for working.
The technique and technology work on the basis of Parkinson’s Law – where we will make a task last as long as the time we allow. In other words, no end time? It is unlikely you’ll ever finish. Deadlines are great motivators.
If you really struggle, then the following apps will block your regularly accessed sites.
- Zero Willpower
Small businesses and freelancers tend to run their own social media accounts. This can be massively time-consuming. Automation with a real-time top up is the combination you should be aiming for. You can plan a few months of content based around your products, sales, and then interact in person for a set amount of time per day.
For automation, take a look at tools like Buffer, Sprout, MissingLettr, and IFTTT.
By automating as many processes as you can, you will save hours every week. The hour which can be then plunged into your business instead.
Here are some other great tools:
Pocket – when you are surfing the web looking for information, and find something you want to refer back to at a later date – save them to pocket. You can access it from all your other devices, this is great if you are a writer, or you are in the research phase.
Zapier – has around 750 apps that can automatically send data between, like it can populate the data from a SurveyMonkey mail out, into a google spreadsheet for you. You can have 100 tasks a month on the free level.
TypeItForMe – if you use a mac, you can set up a range of key triggers that give you pre-loaded texts.
Interestingly, or maybe not(?), taking regular breaks away from your work will make you more productive. But, rather than use the time to play on your phone, use it for some mindfulness and meditation.
Resting your brain is essential to allow it to time and space to deal with the information that you have been loading it up with. It also gives you time to relax.
Not everyone loves meditation, but with a little guidance from Calm or Headspace, you can find that ten minutes a day gives you a really big boost.
Have working hours and the days off too. When you work for yourself, the temptation is to work as often as you can with no breaks. And, yes, there is a pressure to be seen to be performing. But if you aren’t letting yourself take time off, you’ll burn out in no time.
Some people work better in the morning, and some are better at night. You probably have a good idea which one you are. If you can, then try and work during the hours you are the most productive.
You could always train yourself into a different time slot if your business requires it. For example, start getting up an hour or two earlier, and heading to be earlier in the evenings and slowly switch your routine.
In the end, genuinely becoming more productive is as much about you as it is about the apps and tools that you use. You must be motivated and committed to making the changes that will give you that boost. Some days you will be much more productive than others, this is pretty natural. But you should aim to have a productive baseline to springboard from.