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Productivity Management Tools
There are lots of ways to get ahead in the business world, but undoubtedly one of the most important has to be through efficiency.
What is the key to working at your best in the shortest amount of time? How do you keep from getting distracted, procrastinating, doing unnecessary work, or going from A to B via ten other letters? While everyone has their own little tips and tricks to combat these drawbacks, some helpful tools have been developed to improve efficiency.
Here we’ve listed six of our top picks:
For the tech-savvy designer who likes to keep things clean and organized on-screen:
This web- and app-based project management software is particularly prized for its clear communication ability: There are discussion boards, live text documents, and users can comment on specific tasks. The platform also sends you a daily email recap and allows you to add tasks and provide progress updates via email. The downside to Basecamp is a lack of time management tools. If you have a lot of projects to work on within a tight schedule, then this might pose a problem.
Available both on web and mobile, Asana offers an email-less way to optimize efficiency. The program’s strengths include extreme user-friendliness, simple layout, and the ability for real-time interaction, with comments popping up instantaneously. This is a huge advantage when several people are working on one project. By creating an Asana-Inbox, users can avert the personal inbox-pollution that so often follows signing up to programs like these. However Asana’s simplicity may also be its downfall: There are no time or content management tools, nor is there an option to integrate external tools.
3. Team Gantt
This online productivity tool is based on the Gantt Chart, a type of bar chart developed in the late 1800s that helps you track progress on a project. Used by companies such as Twitter and Sony, Team Gantt makes web-based project schedules simple, easy, and accessible while providing useful features like the ability to make projects dependent on one another to ensure tasks are done in the proper order.
For the designer who likes printed planners that can be filled out by hand:
All three of our printable picks were designed by the same man: Dave Seah, a productivity tools designer with a background in computer engineering and video game development. His blog is a wonderful resource for everything from freelancing to food, to procrastination and productivity. These three downloadable planners answer some basic questions that many of us might have difficulty answering:
1. Where is my time going?
Seah’s Emergent Task Timer (or ETT) combines a task-tracking form with a physical timer set to go off every 15 minutes (an egg-timer or smartphone will do). It sounds so simple, but is it really necessary? Well, can you visualize where every 15 minutes of your day goes? Chances are, like most of us, you will find time disappears as fast as quicksand. This clear layout not only tracks how you spend your time, but it can also be helpful for things like billing.
2. How do I know what I should be doing?
This printable tool is meant to act as our CEO. As freelancers, we are faced daily with the responsibility of choosing which tasks to do—or, more accurately, which tasks will benefit our business. The Concrete Goals Tracker, or CGT, reminds you that the one critical element to a successful business is revenue. By adding a dash of fun, the tool makes the act of earning revenue into a game. A simple points system helps you focus on profitable tasks. Considering that people naturally have a competitive edge, this one should be a no-brainer.
3. How do I stay focused during the day?
We all know it’s impossible to plan out an entire day. Things happen and they can throw you off balance, which causes you to lose focus. The Emergent Task Planner (ETP) acts as an anchor, bringing your focus back to the tasks at hand if you ever get distracted. The form’s flexibility allows you to adapt if something doesn’t go as planned, while at the same time encouraging you to set realistic timing goals.
With all these great resources right at your fingertips, there’s no better time than now to see how efficient you can really be. Who knows? You might just surprise yourself!