Like my good friend Mike Vardy, I’m a “productivityist”.
Mike is a Productivity speaker, author and pretty much an authority on every tool, app and system ever created, and he is a nice guy to boot.
Mike coined the unusual but rather descriptive word “Productivityist” and describes it as follows:
“A productivityist is a productivity enthusiast. They are someone who studies productivity, be it the tools or habits. They dive deeper into the realm than most people. Just like a comedian looks at the world differently, so does the productivityist. Productivityists, like other enthusiasts, like to go further in their craft and push boundaries. They like to explore new processes, new ideas, new ways to get things done. And for a while they wind up doing productive more often than being productive…but they start to shift the other way over time.”
When I first got interested in Productivity back in 2007 I was a productivityist in the making. I tried out lots of apps, software and systems trying to find what worked for me. I started out using Outlook tasks. I then moved to Remember the Milk, I used Wunderlist for a while until I found Evernote.
Evernote became my world for a little while so much so I commit 100%. I was ever loyal and put up with the bits that didn’t quite work. I tried GTD with it Evernote but that didn’t last, I used it for all my projects and personal stuff, I even co-wrote an eBook using a shared notebook.
I stuck with my system for some time but my daily tasks didn’t really have a home. I used a note in my “Current” Notebook for today’s tasks list, I wasn’t 100% happy doing it this way but I hadn’t found an alternative. But all too conscious of the productivity trap I didn’t allow myself to get distracted by the lure of Newer and Shinier.
One day while searching for a tool for a client with a Mac who needed something that was cross platform, simple and free, I found Todoist. It Installed seamlessly into Outlook, no Addin errors or incompatibilities, simple, intuitive, colourful and brilliant. I was hooked. (More on Todoist in coming weeks)
It was then that I realised I had become a productivityist again, when I remembered that there is always a better, faster, every cooler way to do things. I allowed myself to tinker again. To enjoy a hobby I had cast aside. Once I decided to put some time into it they came in droves asking me to try out their software, their products and their apps and I did and I continue to. There are a few great programmes on the way, still in beta but here are the ones that I have tried and will continue to use.
I featured Grove Otter recently on the blog, it’s a tool based on the Pomodoro technique, it allows you enter in the time you want to work, 15, 25 or 45 minutes. Then enter the activity you want done. From there you can track how many things you’ve gotten done and how well you’ve accomplished those activities. The key piece being the break that follows it allows the mind to rest and keeps you fresh. I was never interested in the Pomodoro technique before, it was too simplistic and too directive, (I don’t like to be told what I can do when!) But while trying out the Groove Otter tool I finally understood the benefit. It has definitely helped me stay more focused, I seem to be getting through work much faster.
Bizarre how we fight systems thinking this or that won’t work for me, I thought 25 minutes was too short to produce anything of value but if it works for thousands of people, chances are it will work for you and me. What I find is that the 25 minute bursts really push you to focus and achieve something in that time frame, then the 5 minute break allows you to go to the loo, make a cup of tea or grab a glass of water, have a stretch, then back to work.
It’s really working for me for writing my new book, I have worked out how many 25 minute sessions it takes to write a chapter so I know if I’m on track or not.
WorldCard Mobile Phone Kit
A couple of weeks ago the postman brought me a parcel, The box was so pretty I had to take a photo. WorldCard Mobile Phone Kit is a Smartphone Stand, Business Card Holder and Reader. It is iPhone and Android compatible and once you download their app you can take photos of the business cards you collect. The contact details are then added to your WorldCard contacts and can be exported to your phone contacts. There is also software for your computer. This will sync with Gmail or Outlook contacts, Salesforce, Act or Lotus Notes amoung others.
This is a great bit of kit, a little clunky to set up and not as intuitive as I would like but once you figure it out, it could be a massive time saver. If you are in sales or Network often like me, the business cards add up. Anyone who has worked with me knows how much I hate business cards lying around, filling up cupboards and drawers. This is a quick way to click and then you can dump the card. It’s not completely reliable as a lot of business cards have images and it won’t pick up all font types,so after you snap the card you should check it picked up all the information you require.
If nothing else it is a sweet iPhone holder.
Haiku Deck is a presentation tool that allows you to create really cool, vibrant presentations in a very short space of time. Prezi step aside, Haiku deck is kicking ass. I love this tool, as a speaker I like to create visuals that won’t bore my audience, with Haiku deck you can choose free images from their gallery, there are of course images that you can buy but their free selection is pretty good. Once you select your image you then add text that readjusts itself to your slide. So simple, so quick, so effective.
While I’ve been using Dropbox for many years, only this year did I upgrade to Pro. It’s made my life so much easier, I effectively use it as my hard drive, meaning I have access to everything I want from all my devices. For storing photos, movies, documents and spreadsheets I always have what I need with me.
These are the tools that have made an impact to my productivity in 2014 and will continue to help me get more done in 2015. Ive decided to limit my consumption to one new tool a month this way I’ll continue to benefit from the tools that I have while adding a new one in from time to time.
I would love to hear what tools keep you productive.