At the start of the calendar year (and maybe the academic year), it can feel like the perfect time to reflect and review these systems, so let’s do this!
If you are already asking the questions “but, why?” there’s a great quote that sums this review process up…
“If you always do what you’ve always done, you always get what you’ve always gotten”, Henry Ford
So if you don’t review your processes, and how your needs might have changed, you might not go seeking that new digital tool… that tool that might save you many hours of time per week! So it’s worth dedicating some time for this! And to save you time, read on to explore my suggestions I think you will find beneficial, and time-saving too!
Hopefully that paragraph has convinced you that it’s worth carrying on, now we can get down to it!
First off, note down the processes and tasks you do within a day – take note of what task or process it is, is it a repeatable task, how long does it take, and what digital tools are you using to achieve this.
So for example…
“Checking Email Inbox – Repeating task (3 x daily) - 30 minutes – Outlook365”
Do this for each process or task. Even if you’ve done this review before, it can be good to do every 3-6months anyway - things change, people change, priorities change, so it’s good to update this alongside changes too.
Once you have your list of tasks and processes, check out the suggestions below and see what you might want to test to update your processes. Even if you just choose one, you may save several hours a week by leaning on technological advances. Try them out for size, and if they don’t work for you, you can always revert to your previous tools. I would suggest allocating 1 hour for setup with any new platform, and another 30minutes per week to test and review, until you’re happy to integrate the new tool into your regular processes.
Liz Hardwick’s Top 5 Digital Tools for Productivity Processes
Emails have been around since the early 1990’s but the technology of the simple account hasn’t moved on much since then, so it’s time to try out a 3rd party digital tool that adds much more functionality to your every-day process.
Use an inbox management tool like eM Client which enable you to be alerted for certain replies to specific emails, or a free and open-source solution for multiple inboxes such as Thunderbird, or my personal favourite BlueMail which enables you to “snooze” an email till later and has a “people switch” to filter out those non-human emails.
If you’re responsible for managing multiple inboxes, that aren’t just emails, you’ll really benefit from an omni-channel tool. This brings all your comms and inboxes into one platform, making it easier to manage, and saving around 3 hours per week! Check out a free tool like MobileMonkey to try it out.
Social Media Content Sourcing and Scheduling
A quick mention here for if you use social media for promoting and communications, a big struggle can always be “finding stuff to post easily and quickly” – I would highly recommend Feedly to collate all your favourite blogs and news sites into one place, for easy reading and sharing. This reduced my time spent looking at the different websites by at least an hour each week!
Once you’ve chosen your content, you might want to schedule it our across the week rather than hitting go on it all on a Monday morning. So going hand-in-hand with the content collator, try using a social media scheduler like Hootsuite or Buffer. This doesn’t necessarily save you any extra time, but does mean you can craft content across a week, when you might not be free to post at the time you schedule it to go out.
Tracking your work on different projects/clients
If you have different client or projects you need to track your time on, make sure you check out a time-tracking tool like Toggl. You might find this replaces a more paper or excel spreadsheet based system you’ve previously use, this will save you around an hour a week.
This can also create a report on where you’ve spent your time which can be helpful to you, and or your teams/clients.
Focus Time Management
I love to share the productivity process Pomodoro, a great process that enables you to focus in 25minute chunks of time, with a 5 minute breaks, and repeat – the top tool to help you keep on track with this is PomoDone.
As a follow-up you might want to link your Pomodoro tasks with your calendar and task list system – next steps with digital systems is automation and integration (more details below).
I just mentioned integration, so one thing worth checking is if your digital tools you use integrate with other tools you’re using. For example the Task Management Tool I use is todoist which integrates with PomoDone and my Calendar – so I have a way of taking a task from my task list, process it using Pomodoro, and tracking that time into my calendar – all automatically. This saves me at least another hour a week. Details on that here.
Next Steps with Digital Productivity Tools
If you are already using these digital productivity tools or similar, you’ll be wanting to focus on the next steps – integration and automation.
Integration is helpful to speed up processes in a chain – pushing information from a, to b, to c, and even back round to a. The less time you have to spend pushing data around, the more time you can spend on the work that moves yourself and your business forwards. I shared an example above with 3 tools all integrating with each other seamlessness, using “behind the scenes” technology coding called APIs (application programming interface).
Automation might be more involved than integration – this may involve multiple steps and different systems. At it’s simplest, if we want 2 tools to talk to each other, but they don’t offer in-built integrations we might want to use another third party tool like Zapier, to help us link them together. These are great for those repeating tasks do you day in, day out and can save many more hours per week.
I’ve worked with hundreds of business owners and leaders to understand and integrate these tools into their lives and businesses, ultimately saving them hours if not days, to use however they see fit. Whether it’s deeper dives into important tasks, or forgetting about work completely to spend time with the family, it’s time you richly deserve.
Not sure where to start? Then let me help. In just one hour we can identify the tools which will make the biggest difference in your day, and improve your productivity immediately. We only have a limited number of slots available so book a 121 session now.
Alternatively, if you feel a team session would be more beneficial, get in touch and mention “Heather Baker” to claim an exclusive first session discount.
Liz Hardwick is a Digital Productivity Specialist, Professional Speaker, Trainer and Tech Founder, and has been sharing her expertise and experiences of “harnessing digital for human benefit”, for over 15 years through engaging talks, trainings and virtual seminars, and via her online eLearning Platform.
She works alongside business owners, leaders and their teams, helping them get to grips with procrastination, overwhelm and overflowing inboxes. She can be seen regularly speaking at events across the world and online, on topics such as Digital Productivity, Focus and Time Management, Digital Technology and her own Email Management System, ZenForInbox.
Described as a forever-smiling, down to earth, and approachable expert, she is known for advocating a strong work life balance, using Digital to solve human problems, and loves to demystify technology so everyone can be digitally included.
Liz has been recognised for her achievements in the TechWomen100, TechWorld’s Top 111 UK Women in Tech Speakers, BC’s 101 Female Founders in Tech, and the Digital Leaders UK 100.