By the SMU Social Media team
Whether you work from home, in a startup, or a corporate environment, the aim for individuals and companies is to increase efficiency, productivity and improve individual and team performance. However, with new advances in technology, there is an increased risk of digital distractions in the form of social media, smartphone apps and even email notifications.
Paradoxically, with the growing adoption of digital tools in the workplace, one has to be constantly plugged-in in order to be productive. So how do you deal with this paradox? How does one increase productivity and efficiency despite all the digital distractions? The answer lies not in rejecting technology, but in converting them to useful tools for individual and company productivity.
From smartphone apps to online resources, here are some digital tools you can use to maximise your efficiency while remaining plugged-in:
Whether at work or at school, we constantly find ourselves needing to juggle multiple projects at any one time. Sure, an Excel spreadsheet does the job of planning schedules and organising your work. But when it comes to tracking to-dos, managing a project, and managing workflows with multiple team members, Trello is a lifesaver. With its clean layout, easy drag and drop functionality, and the ability to control view access for different boards, it’s a great tool when working not just with internal members, but external clients or partners as well!
You know how it goes—you’re in the middle of mapping out an idea or deeply absorbed in a task, when you suddenly get an email alert interrupting your thoughts and destroying your focus. If you can identify with this problem, then Boomerang is your ideal solution. This app available in Android and iOS and as a plugin for Gmail and Outlook allows you to schedule your emails so that they don’t arrive at inconvenient times—you can ensure that you receive emails only in the beginning or end of a workday or after lunch break.
Constantly missing the dates to send out emails that require a follow-up or response at a later date? You can also get the app to send reminders for emails you haven’t received a reply to, schedule outgoing messages, and apply snooze on messages as reminders. It’s also a great tool to help you remember to stay in touch with your network.
If you are a visual thinker, then this app is for you. Currently available on iOS devices only, this tool enables you to capture your ideas instantly via doodling on the device and rearranging or scaling them as you see fit. (By the way, studies have shown that doodling improves focus!)
The ability to write well is a skill, and it is a skill that one should hone whether or not you plan on being a professional writer. From emails to digital marketing content, those of us in the world of business need to write. Unlike Grammarly which is an in-depth grammar checker, the Hemingway Editor’s focus is on improving your writing style. The tool scans your write up and uses colour-coded highlights to classify different readability issues. Suffice to say, it’s a useful tool that helps you polish up your writing skills over time.
If you are not already using Evernote as your personal productivity tool, then you should. Evernote is a brilliant tool for listing and organising tasks, ideas and notes—and you can use it across all digital devices! You can use it as an organisational tool by listing your daily schedule, as a tool for storing ideas and bookmarking articles, websites or notes and for sharing them with others. Its basic features are free but you can upgrade it to a premium or business plan that allows you access to other features such as video creation and sharing or working offline.
Pocket is a digital resource library where you can save and organise your research on various subjects both personal and professional. The app allows you to collect articles, videos and stories from any publication, page or app on a single dashboard that you can access even offline—once it’s in Pocket, it’s available anytime. Plus, the app sends out a daily email to you on top stories relevant to your research, as voted on by fellow users of the app. This makes research more convenient for you!
Wunderlist, as the name suggests is an awesome way to create, manage and share your to-do lists. Its simple interface makes it easy for you to create personal and professional task lists and share them with friends or co-workers for easy collaboration. You can easily create subtasks and schedule reminders, use hashtags to organise, make notes and even print out the lists. Best of all, it’s free and downloadable across all digital platforms (Android / iOS / Windows / Kindle Fire / Web) so you can access it from anywhere!
FocusList is a daily planner and productivity tool that uses the Pomodoro Technique—a time management method that breaks down work into 25 minute intervals to increase productivity. It is available for downloading on iOS and MacOS devices and helps you plan your day by dividing each task into timed sessions of 25 minutes, with 5 minute breaks in-between. The tool also allows you to track your daily progress when you access it at the end of the day to view the tasks you’ve managed to accomplish that day and the time it took you to finish each task.
An excellent social media managing tool, Hootsuite allows you to manage all your social media profiles simultaneously. It’s a great timesaver as it allows you to do scheduling, managing and reporting of all your social media profiles in one platform. It’s also a great resource for anything related to social media as the site is regularly updated to inform you on the latest social media trends and tools necessary to keep up with the trends.
Do you spend most of your day browsing through your social media accounts or other digital distractions? Do you often wonder where the time went? Then this tool is for you. Hours does real-time tracking of what you’ve been up to for the day. It will keep track of the time you’ve spent on doing something productive as well as time you’ve spent on distractions throughout the day. At the end of the week, you’ll get a report on how productive your week was—so you’ll know just how many hours you’ve spent on browsing Facebook and Instagram versus actual productive tasks!
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