“I don’t have enough time.”
Have you ever found yourself saying these words more often than you’d like?
Most of us have at some point in time – even the most productive among us.
It’s a self-limiting belief which stops us from being more productive.
It’s not that we don’t have enough time, it’s that we need to find ways to do more with the time we have.
In this post I will show you tools to help you become more productive. Whether you want to stay focused while writing, organize your time better or automate tedious tasks.
Are you ready to start getting more done in less time?
A simple strategy to help you use these tools and get more done
There are a lot of tools here, but that doesn’t mean you should use all of them, in fact far from it.
Pick one, try it and see how it helps.
Solve one challenge at a time and avoid trying out too many tools at once.
This post is organized into key areas where tools can help you be more productive so you can focus on where you need to be more productive.
Just click the link to get to scroll to your chosen section:
E.ggTimer you access to an easy to use timer in your web browser. Set the timer, click ‘go’ and it will countdown. Once the timer expires, you’ll get a notification in your browser.
How it will help you be more productive: Set the timer and work in timed bursts, this will increase your focus. This idea is based on the Pomodoro technique.
Toggl is a tool designed to help you track your time better.
Just type in what you’re working on and hit start, then stop the timer and your task will be stored along with your time spent on the task.
Toggl can be used on the web, on your desktop or on your mobile with the ability to support teams and generate reports.
How it will help you be more productive: Tracking the time you spend on a task helps you to stay accountable for the time you’re spending on specific tasks. Also works great if you want to monitor the productivity of your team.
Price: Basic features are free, all features cost $5/user/month with 30 day free trial.
Evernote is a note taking application that allows you to create and share notes. Evernote can be used on your desktop, your mobile phone and in your web browser.
There is also a handy Chrome extension that will allow you to clip from the web and save directly to your Evernote account.
All of your notes are synchronized within your account.
How it will help you be more productive: All of your notes will be in one place allowing you to stay more organized.
Price: Free, premium starts at $5/month.
Dropbox is one of the best cloud storage tools available right now.
Sign up for an account, download the software client and start saving files in your “Dropbox” folder. Your files will then be synchronized and you can then access them from anywhere.
You can use Dropbox on your mobile, your desktop or via the web interface.
How it will help you be more productive: Access your files from anywhere, no matter what device you are using. Share folders with others in a few clicks and never have to worry if anything happens to your computer, everything is backed up.
Price: Starts from free for 2GB+ storage, additional storage starts at $9.99/month.
LastPass is a password management tool which is supported well across multiple devices.
You have access to desktop software which supports Windows, Mac and Linux along with specific browser extensions that support Firefox, Safari, Internet Explorer and more.
Type in a password and you’ll be prompted to save or overwrite an existing password. You can also choose to auto-fill your details or click a button and select your account before logging in.
How it will help you be more productive: When you have accounts on a lot of different websites
Price: Free, premium plan available for $12/year.
Trello is a project management tool that allows you to create boards for each of your projects; you create lists across your board and then add cards to each list.
Within each card you can specify a due date, attach files, add descriptions, checklists and labels.
You can drag & drop cards and lists which makes everything easy to move around. Trello is also supported on multiple devices to help you keep everything in sync.
How it will help you be more productive: Trello makes it easy to manage tasks for large projects with lots of details. The interface is simple and makes collaboration easy. Trello makes project management quicker.
Price: Free, premium plan available for $5/user/month.
Teux Deux is a simple to-do app with a twist.
Instead of creating seemingly endless lists like with other to-do apps, Teux Deux puts those lists into a calendar style format.
You can use the app in your browser or on a mobile device.
How it will help you be more productive: This app will make your to-do lists more manageable, it’s simple with no unnecessary bells and whistles which end up hindering productivity. You will know what you’ve got to do and when you’ve got to do it.
ZenWriter is a simple writing application for Windows. It’s all about helping you stay focused on what’s important – your writing.
If you are a mac user try an alternative called WriteRoom. It will give you a distraction free writing environment like ZenWriter.
How it will help you be more productive: ZenWriter removes unnecessary distractions to improve your productivity.
Price: $9.99 with free trial available.
The Hemingway App is a web based tool that helps you to improve your writing and make it easier to understand.
You can write in the app or paste your text in and there’s a desktop editor available for Mac and PC.
How it will help you be more productive: Save time editing and learn how to develop your writing at the same time.
Price: Free, desktop version costs $6.99.
Think of this tool like the next evolution of bookmarking.
Pocket allows you to save content to read later and it takes one click. You can add tags to better organize your saved content.
Save content directly from your web browser, via email or from a variety of different applications including Flipboard, Pulse and Twitter.
Pocket’s interface is clean with minimal distractions and is available for mobile.
How it will help you be more productive: Read content in a clean and distraction free interface.
Price: Free, premium available from $4.99/month.
Grammarly is an online tool that proofreads your content for you.
It will help you with your grammar, spelling, sentence structure, style and more.
While there are plenty of alternatives out there, Grammarly remains my go-to tool for proofreading. While it can never replace a real person, it’s helpful to get a second opinion. Like any other tool of this type, you should never rely on it 100%.
How it will help you be more productive: You will know exactly how to improve your content, no need to wait for a person to do this for you. It’s also a great learning experience as you can see what you need to change and why.
I’ve covered a number of handy tools below, but if you’d like to take a deeper dive into visual content creation and image editing tools, check out this post by Elna Cain.
Pablo by Buffer
Pablo allows you to create eye-catching images to share on social networks like Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
Here’s why this rocks:
Images featuring quotes usually generate a lot of traction via social media. The problem has always been the time that it takes to create them.
Just open up this tool, paste in some text, choose a background and you’re ready to go.
The great thing is that Pablo is part of Buffer, so you can easily schedule these images to be shared via your Buffer account.
How it will help you be more productive: Create shareable images faster than you thought possible. It takes around 2 minutes on average.
Price: Free for Buffer users.
In the past you would need expensive image editing software to make eye-catching graphics for your blog.
Now tools like Canva make it easy for anyone to make images for your blog posts, social media graphics, presentations and Infographics.
How it will help you be more productive: Canva’s interface is designed in a way which makes it faster to put together images. Default layouts and
Price: Free, premium images available for $1 each.
Choosing color schemes can be challenging.
Fortunately there are tools like Adobe Kuler which allow you to create your own color schemes on the fly.
Various color rule settings mean you will have plenty of choice. RGB and HEX values are given for each colour so you can easily copy and paste into Canva or another image editing tool.
How it will help you be more productive: Create color schemes that fit together in minutes.
Skitch by Evernote
With Skitch you can quickly take screenshots, edit them, add annotations and quick sketches.
Skitch is compatible with desktop, tablet and smart phone.
How it will help you be more productive: Instead of using your computers “print screen” function, use Skitch to take screenshots, edit them and save them in minutes without having to use other software.
Price: Free (Mac only).
It allows me to schedule social messages, recycle evergreen social messages, and find new content to share. I can even schedule to Instagram without needing to send push notifications to my phone.
I can also run a bunch of reports and setup social media monitoring from within the app.
But, there’s one feature that saves me more time than anything else; Sendible’s social media inbox.
Within the inbox, I can scroll through all of my social messages, and archive all that I’ve viewed. No more wasting time trying to figure out where I was up to.
Now, it’s important I mention that there are other tools that offer this feature, but out of all that I’ve tested, Sendible was the most robust, and the best on pricing.
What if you have social media clients? They have a solid team management feature set which allows tasks to be assigned to team members, and white label functionality.
How it will help you be more productive: Find content to share. Schedule it and recycle evergreen content. Then, manage your replies & archive them easily in the social inbox. And generate reports with a few clicks.
Price: From £25/month for complete social media management.
Buffer is an easy to use tool that helps you schedule social media updates and find awesome content to share.
You can add content to share directly via your Buffer account, the browser extension or the mobile app. Choose when you want the updates to be shared from within your account.
Buffer also helps you to find great content to share. This can be done via the web interface or from the Suggestions app for iOS.
How it will help you be more productive: Schedule social media updates at the click of a button.
Price: Free, paid plans start at $9.99/month.
IFTTT stands for ‘if this then that’.
It’s a tool that allows you to create connections between various online services, anything from Facebook to Evernote. These are called channels.
You can search for recipes, this link connect channels together to perform automated tasks.
Here are a few examples:
- If you get a new Twitter follower, they are invited to connect on Linkedin.
- If I get an email through Gmail that has an attachment, save it to my Google Drive account.
- If a new blog post is published (via the RSS feed you choose), add it to my Pocket account.
- If I post a photo to Instagram, publish it to my Tumblr account.
How it will help you be more productive: Automate countless tedious tasks that would otherwise take you a very long time.
Zapier works on a similar basis to IFTTT.
There are some key differences; free accounts are limited and there are more apps to choose from.
The potential Zapier has is mind-blowing.
Here are some examples of the amazing things you can do:
- Add Eventbrite attendee’s to MailChimp.
- Add MailChimp subscribers automatically from a Google Form entry.
- Send new Tumblr posts to Buffer automatically.
- Send Feedly “Saved for later” articles to Evernote.
- Add an item to your Buffer account from new Google Docs rows.
How it will help you be more productive: Automate tasks you never thought were even possible and get more done in less time.
Price: Free, paid plans start at $15/month with extended features.
We’ve discussed a lot of tools. All of which can streamline or automate certain tasks to save you time.
But, it’s important to avoid using tools that just aren’t necessary. And what is necessary is different to everyone.
There are some occasions when a simple spreadsheet is all you need. Then there are times when you need something more.
And when trying the tools listed above, be sure to only try one at a time. See how it impacts your productivity and use that to judge its effectiveness. If you try too many tools in one go it’ll likely hinder your productivity than improve it.
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