It might seem like productivity tips are a dime a dozen these days. Everyone seems to be an expert on the topic, and there seems to be a ton of productivity apps that might help solve your problems.
But sometimes you just don’t have the time to test out a whole bunch of apps. Instead, in order to improve your productivity, you’ll first need to identify the specific problems that are keeping you from getting things done throughout the workday.
Here are some of the most common challenges facing workers today, along with some productivity tips on how to overcome them. While these apps are suggestions, we’ve tried to keep the solutions as simple as possible.
Roadblock: Poor prioritization
Productivity tips: Consider Trello, or bullet journaling
Broadly speaking, “productivity” means “getting stuff done.” When we’re doing something we need to be doing, we can effectively say we’ve been “productive.”
But if you’ve ever deep-cleaned your kitchen when you should’ve been meeting a work deadline, you know that the kind of productivity you’re achieving throughout your workday is just as important as the productivity itself. While the prioritization of companywide goals might not be in your control, you can get serious about managing your priorities by utilizing a workflow tool or task management system. Trello is a great, easy-to-pick-up option for users.
You can also go analog and keep a bullet journal on your desk for work tasks. It will help you create a timeline for each item on your to-do list, and you don’t necessarily have to put the most urgent item first. Instead, it helps you chart a path that will optimize your time-management skills.
Bonus tip: Always try to give yourself more time than you think you need.
Roadblock: Lack of focus
Productivity tips: Turn off notifications or use a custom set of browser lockout tools
Maybe you find yourself unable to settle into that one thing you need to get done. This is one of the most commonly solved productivity problems out there. Whether it’s self-sabotage or an onslaught of notifications from the apps you attempted to automate, you’re going to need to customize your workspace to protect yourself from distractions.
Find yourself looking at your phone when you should be working? Turn that baby off and lock it in a drawer—or at least turn off all notifications. And don’t forget to snooze notifications on your desktop too.
Maybe you open up Twitter, Reddit or other social media tabs as soon as you log in to your computer. Shut that down with a lockout tool like Self Control or Cold Turkey. If you prefer a gentler nudge, try Mindful Browsing.
Bonus tip: Science says the perfect ratio is 52 minutes of working, followed by a 17-minute break.
Roadblock: Too many unproductive meetings
Productivity tips: Get aligned on effective meetings and consider digital meeting solutions
If it feels like your workday is being eaten alive by meetings, perhaps it’s time to have a conversation with other team members about meeting cadence, necessity and etiquette. Start an open dialogue about how to make meetings more effective, whether that’s creating agendas ahead of time or delegating clear action items afterward.
And if your team’s regular standups seem to be stretching longer and longer, using up time you could be spending on focused work, try a digital meeting solution like Standbot. It’s basically a standup packaged to go and without the stress of time-zone alignment.
Standbot collects all the check-ins and updates the team really needs, with none of the extended conversations that might be best saved for more substantial project-update meetings. It also provides a digital paper trail that’s a lot less cumbersome than meeting notes scattered across a bunch of Google docs.