One of the biggest mindset changes that comes with working for yourself if how you use your time. You make your own hours, and those hours are not valued by a salary.
When taking on a project, it’s easy to underestimate how easily we drown ourselves under every task. Procrastination, disorganization, overwhelm… you name it. Every diversion from the actions that drive results (inevitably when you run your own business the result has to be $$ money.)
We start full of good intentions. We pick an activity off our never-ending list of tasks and we get going. Soon enough, one thing leads to another and we’re no farther than we were 3 hours ago (or a week ago).
The search for increased focus and productivity
I’m constantly on the hunt for new ways to curb procrastination and disorganization. The truth is that however motivated you are, if your environment is not conducive to focus & productivity, you’ll find yourself distracted.
So here are 5 tools which are part of my go-to setup to deliver results faster, and consistently.
Disclaimer – I use Apple products! A few of the recommendations below are geared towards Apple users. Also, these are genuine recommendations of tools I use myself and I’m not sponsored to recommend them.
Chrome Web Browser
Free – google.com/chrome
First of all, I use Chrome as my main browser – the reason is speed and also the fact that with this browser I can connect my settings to my Google account and sync these settings, including all my preferences, across devices.
I use Firefox & Safari as well, and regularly test websites on Internet Explorer. Out of all of these, Chrome has proven the most reliable & most practical. Another perk, with Chrome I never have any issues with high traffic websites where you need to be quick to get tickets for example.
All in all, the less time spent on browser issues, the better.
Toby – Tab Management Extension for Chrome
Free (with premium features available) – gettoby.com
Do you ever build up a ridiculous list of tabs on your window?
That is one sure-fire way to lose your focus, and become unproductive. Sure, there are ways to self-manage this but when you are busy, tabs tend to creep up on you. Instead, I use the Toby Chrome extension to save lists of tabs as sessions or as actual lists I create manually. All I then need to do is to save my current tabs as a list and open only the ones I need to focus on right now.
I sincerely, highly recommend this if you struggle with too many tabs. This way you won’t need to find that page again among an infinite list, or have to have multiple windows crowding your space.
Gmail for business
Starts from $3.99 – gmail.com
Gmail is my preferred email client, again because of functionality. First, it has this great viewing feature which enables me to show only a minimised, very clean view and to seperate my inbox from promotional emails or priority emails.
I love using Gmail also because I can set rules easily, and combine it with Streak (streak.com) to track progress on enquiries. For someone like me who looks after multiple inboxes, this enables me to quickly and efficiently get an idea of my inbox with a simple glance.
I can also schedule emails to send so I can batch write them when I’m ready and have them send at a respectable hour.
There are many other features within Gmail: one of my favourites is to set VIP contacts (my clients obviously!) and identify their emails quicker.
The best part, however, is the integrations and how easy the account is to manage. When I had to adjust some custom settings and didn’t know how to, I was able to ask the huge community of users who use Gmail for business, and received a response in under 2 hours.
Free (with premium features available) – grammarly.com
This one applies to everything you could write, ever, anywhere. I cannot recommend it enough to increase focus and productivity as it will free your mind up. The free version of this app & browser plugin (comes in various ways) will not allow you to make regrettable typos or grammatical mistakes. This enables you to focus on what you are actually doing and do it faster.
Costs $19.99 – hemingwayapp.com
The single best writing tool I’ve ever found to help with style (not just grammar). This tool gives you a clean & focused writing space while guiding you to improve the quality of your writing style. I use it to write better, easier to read blog posts, and long text form content.
Some of the functionalities within this app are incredibly useful. For example:
- Hemingway is able to publish directly into a WordPress site
- Same for Medium! You can publish directly from the app
- You can send your text from Hemingway to Word or to a PDF format
- You can save your text as a PDF with your highlights, so colleagues can see which parts need further work / have been revised.
These are my 5 basic tools, saving me time every single day and I cannot recommend them enough. Of course, there are flashier, infinite numbers of other tools & extensions and if you know me you’ll know that I try them all, but if you’re just looking to clean up your workspace then this is it.
What are your favourites? What do you use? I love recommendations!