Some of them are work-related, but odds are, there's at least a few of those pesky distractors. You know, the usual suspects: Facebook, Reddit, Twitter, Netflix, Hulu, the works. It's so tempting to jump over and have a quick peek at those sites in between paragraphs of this article, isn't it? It's okay, you can admit it. I won't be offended. But while we're admitting things here, we can get this out of the way too: thanks to the internet, 2015 was probably not always as productive as you had hoped it would be when you set all your New Year's Resolutions many months ago.
Well, lucky for you, it's a new year. You've set your new resolutions and promised yourself 2016 is really going to be a productive year, from January to December. That's all well and good, but how can you guarantee that productivity for all twelve months? Remember that pesky thing, the internet? It's still there, and it's still distracting. What's really tricky about that pesky internet is that you probably use it for your job all the time. It's an important thing, the internet. A lot of stuff happens on it every day, from social media sharing to e-commerce and everything in between.
The internet is not all bad. In fact, there's a lot of really great things out there that make your life and your work easier, simpler, and more efficient. The key is to use the internet to your advantage.
Here are 9 awesome productivity tools that will make your 2016 truly as productive as you need it to be.
Let's start with the basics. Remember those distracting tabs you still have open and are tempted to switch over to in between paragraphs? Yeah, let's get those out of the way. StayFocusd is a Google Chrome extension that allows you to block certain sites from your browser. You can set your working hours during the day, choose which sites you want to avoid, and StayFocusd will do the rest.
If you really need to bunker down, you can "go nuclear," and the app will do a hard block of as many sites as you choose for a set amount of time, even shutting you out from the whole internet if you need.
If you work on a team, you're well aware of the many pains and headaches that can come from various communication breakdowns on a daily basis, whether it's getting bogged down with long, confusing email chains or getting signals crossed and scheduling meetings and calls at the wrong times. If you've experienced that (and you probably have), then you and your team should invest in Slack. It's the ultimate team communication tool that allows you to divide up message boards by teams, tasks, locations, whatever you need. It also has a great feature that allows you to integrate notifications from other apps and programs, so it can really become the communication hub of your team. With more and more companies utilizing remote work and getting it down to a science, Slack is a must to assure your team keeps up its productivity year-round.
Recently launched by Toptal, the world's leading network of elite freelance developers and designers, TopTracker is a great app for, well, tracking your work. It feature both a clean, intuitive web interface and desktop app, allowing both individuals and teams to create projects, track their productivity, and easily identify areas for improvement.
Designed with the needs of the freelance community in mind, its advanced features allow you to have full control of what you track and how often. Best of all, it's totally free and is a completely stand-alone app.
Now, let's say you're the manager of that team we've been talking about. You don't want to be a bad boss and lord over your team members every day, but you do want to make sure they're being as productive as you hired them to be. Of course, you can't necessarily control their every move during the workday, but you can use programs like Producteev to help manage all your tasks in an efficient, comprehensive way. Producteev's platform allows you to break up a team into tasks, assigning each member a specific task under the umbrella of a whole project. Then, you can keep track of the progress of each team member's task in a way that allows you to always keep an eye on the big picture.
Now, you've got your team members all in line, but you need a little help staying on task with your own personal work. Don't worry, there's an app for that. MiniNote is a clever little checklist-like tool that sits in the top right hand of your screen and reminds you of all the tasks you need to tackle. There's a "lock" function that displays the MiniNote platform on top of any other programs you have open, and the in-depth note-taking features allow for thoroughness on a simple, easy-to-look at, non-intrusive platform that serves as a gentle reminder to stay on task.
6. Google Drive
Hopefully you're already aware of Google's fantastic array of Office-like offerings, but if you're not, get with the program. Drive, Google's cloud-based storage app, can be another huge productivity boost for you and your team. With easy sharing functions and a great range of collaborative tools, Google Drive can drastically cut down on little inefficiencies like lost email attachments, incompatible file types, and storage limits. Drive offers lots of space, compatibility with many file types, and ease of use across platforms, all for free.
Now that you've got your team organized, it's time to take a swing at your personal productivity. My guess is that if you're anything like me you have three different stacks of sticky notes, all with a different to-do list of tasks you either completely forgot about or don't remember assigning yourself in the first place. Well, if that's your issue, then you need to acquaint yourself with Wunderlist. It's an app that puts all your to-do lists in one place and lets you subdivide tasks and add notes to each. It syncs easily between calendars on your phone and computer, making it the ultimate digital planner.
I'm not certain exactly how you say this acronym, but it helps to know that it stands for "If This, Then That," and it's a very clever program that helps streamline all sorts of productivity functions. IFTTT combs through your basic daily computer movements and detects patterns, and then it automates those patterns for you. It's great for optimizing social media, but it can cook up any number of "recipes" for your daily technology use, making it super helpful in shaving off precious seconds of work time.
9. Rescue Time
Rescue Time is a great app for helping you figure out where you need to cut out distractions in your life. This app tracks the programs and sites you spend the most time on and includes some pretty great analytics, such as most productive hours of the day and best days of the week for you to do work. If you can tell you're being distracted from your work but can't pinpoint where the distraction is coming from, then Rescue Time is the app for you.