It can seem impossible to conquer your to-do list each day and stay sane in the process - especially as a founder who wears several hats within a company. I've rounded up some amazing tools that are sure to help you increase productivity and maintain balance, inside the office and out.

Eliminate busy work with smart tech

We've all seen the headlines around "AI and robots are taking your jobs!" And while that could have some truth to it for some industries, in many cases AI is currently making our jobs easier and actually helping us in the workplace. Companies like Beautiful.AI are a clear example - think PowerPoint, minus the hours of struggling with formatting, design, and countless nights of text box tinkering.

As you create a presentation (or let's be honest, your tenth pitch deck draft), Beautiful.AI automatically enforces design best practices. It also features smart templates and a huge library with searchable icons and images that add a fresh, clean, modern look to your decks. Other AI-driven platforms like Aloe are also a life-saver for collaborating with teams at work. It helps you achieve this by converting handwriting to text, tracking every interaction associated with a project and streamlining meetings and action items, among other things.

Prioritize wellness

Focus and productivity can't happen if you don't practice self-care first. This doesn't mean working out every single day or following a strict elimination diet. It can be as simple as ensuring you get in eight glasses of water a day. Dehydration can cause lowered concentration, headaches, tiredness and even threaten cognitive-motor function - meaning every task will be that much harder. Consider using apps like MyFitnessPal that allow you to track your water intake for a week and make note of what you drank compared to what you thought.

Even better, there's a smart connected water bottle that automatically tracks for you so you don't overestimate and come up short. The Hidrate bottle glows to remind you to drink water and syncs with your smartphone and wearables to help you stay on track with your personalized goals. A calm mind is also the best foundation for productivity, which is where old-school meditation practices can help. Apps like Headspace make it easy to promote mindfulness and foster a meditation habit with guided sessions to promote sleep and reduce stress.

Digitize everything

Clutter is one of the ultimate roadblocks when it comes to focus and productivity. Make it a habit to de-clutter your work and living spaces and you'll notice mood improvements and other positive impacts. One way to reduce clutter is to digitize all of your important files, receipt, bills and forms. Devices like ScanSnap can quickly convert paper copies to high-quality digital files on its own, sans computer or phone. It's sorting capabilities allow you to save directly to Evernote, Google Drive, Google Photos and Box.

Free apps such as Wunderlist can also help you create a digital to-do list synced between your devices with phone, Apple watch, tablet and desktop applications. It allows users to collaborate with others, set reminders and organize personal and work tasks in one place.

Deep work, beyond the buzzword

This is a trendy topic, but also a highly valuable practice. Allow yourself to focus on periods of focused, uninterrupted work without distraction. Extensions like Boomerang help you set boundaries with your email inbox (a well-known enemy of deep work). It's best to check email at specific times during the day, and to limit these to less than five times daily. Boomerang allows email scheduling, reminders to bump important notes to the top of your inbox, and an inbox pause feature that prevents new email from arriving until you're ready to review.

Another tip to embrace time slots for deep focus is to disable pop-up notifications on your phone and desktop, because it's helpful to focus on one task at a time, rather than trying - and failing - to multitask. Every moment you spend looking at a notification is leading you toward more distractions. Tools like Pocket can help you reserve articles and other content that may pop up for later so you can successfully complete your task and get in your reading at your leisure.

Block your meetings, work time and breaks wisely

Use your calendar. It sounds simple, but scheduling everything is one of the top habits I've found to increase productivity. Meetings are an obvious add, but consider scheduling all of your tasks and breaks. Open slots can allow your team to overfill your plate with meetings when you had planned to check other items off your list.

Check out Strict Workflow, which can support you in forming scheduling habits. The Chrome extension is based on the Pomodoro Method and enforces a 25-minute, distraction-free task timeline followed by a five-minute break, then repeats as needed.

Published on: Feb 22, 2018