Max your commute
Travel time needn’t be dead time. Tony Smith, managing director of Company Debt, spends his commutes using apps to brainstorm and plan. “I use MindMeister, a powerful mind-mapping and brainstorming app, to get down ideas for the day,” he says.
Take digital memos
Inspiration can strike at any moment. You need to be able to record your ideas immediately or risk those lightbulb moments going to waste. Simone Robinson, regional director for the Institute of Directors East of England, uses an app called Braintoss. “Take a photo, record a voice memo or write some notes. As soon as you hit send, it sends it straight to your inbox.”
Use a timer
Entrepreneur Moyra Scott, who has worked as a productivity trainer for clients including Bristol city council and King’s College London, swears by using a timer. “Set it for 25 minutes or less and crack on. When it goes off, reward yourself with a short break,” she says. “It makes focusing and working hard feel like a fun game.”
Digital technology should be a help rather than a hindrance. Mat Bennett, managing director at Oko Digital, recommends controlling your notifications to avoid being interrupted. “Ditch the notifications, mute Slack and Skype and silence your apps,” he says. “Make checking your phone something you actively choose to do at set times, rather than dealing with interruptions all day.”
Organise your calendar
Sam Gormley, founder of digital agency Osaka Labs, swears by colour-coordinating calendar appointments. “Blue is for things I can move, green for things I can’t. Yellow is for learning, purple is for holidays and orange is for fitness. As a visual person, this tells me in a second how busy my week will be or how much flexibility I have.”
Create daily to-do lists
Feel like you’ll never get to the bottom of that to-do list? Toby Moore, founder of Content Club and TedxBrighton curator, thinks you need to be strict. “I put tight constraints on my productivity by working from a short list that never exceeds four things,” he notes. “I prioritise impactful work and, therefore, get to spend more time on the things I enjoy.”
Anne Sheehan, director at Vodafone Business UK, agrees it’s important to make sure your time is spent on the right things. “For me, that’s around innovation, our people and our customers. I’m absolutely ruthless about not spending any time on things that I don’t feel will add in those areas.”
Don’t be a slave to email
Emails are important, but they can interrupt you mid-flow. Shaun Thomson, CEO of Sandler Training UK, recommends only checking at set times during the day. “We get trapped into getting an expectation of instant responses. If we allow constant interruptions to what we have planned to do, then we are working to other people’s agendas and schedules, not to our own. As a result, our own productivity suffers,” he says.
Set regular goals
Lindsay Willott, CEO of survey business Customer Thermometer, builds in both work and personal goals and uses apps to remind herself to do them. “I use an app called Streaks on my iPhone, where you can set up to 12 goals you want to regularly achieve. Mine include reading for a minimum of 30 minutes every day, completing two 5km runs per week and having set times for mindfulness meditation.”
Collaborate effectively online
Nicola Case, who runs the personal assistant company Pink Spaghetti, advises business owners to invest in project management tools in order to avoid those neverending email trails. Case says: “I use Trello and Asana. All parties can access a project board and everyone can see what they are responsible for and what their deadlines are. It saves so much time and endless email trails.”
Have a digital detox
Your devices aren’t the only things that run out of power – you do, too. So don’t forget to find time to relax, switch off and recharge your own personal batteries.
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