Time is becoming an increasingly precious resource causing many of us to consistently seek methods to enhance productivity. Tools for managing complicated schedules, project management, and curating information have accumulated to feed the desire for more time and better efficiency in work life.

From reducing inefficiencies in often redundant and overlooked regular tasks to providing more advanced resources tailored to specific professions and businesses, productivity tools are increasingly prevalent. Conversely, simple methods for managing time more effectively and taking necessary breaks can alleviate stress and reduce instances of wasted time.

Time Boxing & Limiting Technology

Timeboxing has become an essential method for managing overloaded schedules, reducing stress, and increasing productivity. Timeboxing is predicated on the concept of managing tasks through interval time periods of topic-oriented work with small breaks interspersed between them.

 Similar to the Pomodoro Technique--which has been optimized and implemented in a variety of fields and applications--timeboxing aims explicitly to create a more consistent focus and mental clarity that mitigates fatigue. Stress is a byproduct of being overworked, which frequently stems directly from inefficient work and time management. Health concerns around stress are well-documented, and improving time management and productivity is not only good for your career but also your general health.  

Timeboxing takes some practice to develop into a habit and requires that you learn more about your attention and energy patterns. Dividing your time into intervals where you focus intensely on work for extended periods followed by shorter small breaks are designed to facilitate concentration. Our brains tend to work the most efficient through small intervals, and short breaks in between these intervals can provide a reprieve from stress and the feeling of work overload.

Limiting technology usage--mainly before bedtime--has also been touted as a practical way to improve efficiency in work, improve sleep, and increasing morning focus. Staring at screens at night or throughout the day can reduce energy and motivation the following morning. Overexposure to blue-screened device light can even throw off your circadian rhythm.

It's exceptionally challenging to limit technology use in today's world, especially considering the prevalence of screens everywhere, seemingly endless news feeds, and social media. However, reducing the use of technology--or at least monitoring it better with an app like Forest--can increase focus and even improve mood.

Tools and Tech

Digital tools for enhancing productivity are everywhere nowadays. Many of them provide automated task and project management while others offer more field-specific resources like software libraries. Regardless of how you're looking to tackle time-saving and improved productivity, the variety of productivity technology and tools available today is seemingly endless.

Evaluating more general day-to-day time-saving tools, Vivid Technologies -- led by founder and CEO Omer Khan -- distinguishes itself as the company behind their Digital IVR product. The goal is to remove the frustrating customer service experience by transitioning the phone call into an interactive, user-friendly interface. Users can exchange voice, text, and picture messages with agents while concurrently working on other tasks. There is no waiting for a customer service rep to answer as the call service integrates directly with the user's phone to alert them once an agent is available. Vivid developed out of a Google and Microsoft Accelerator and has now partnered with Telenor--one of the largest telecommunications companies in the world--to offer their products to all customers of Telenor.  Phone customer service is a largely outdated model, and Vivid caters to millennials with a more efficient and interactive approach.

Other platforms like ActiveCollab are comprehensive project management tools for working with clients and teams. The integrated payment and invoicing functionality bridges many of the challenges facing entrepreneurs, small businesses, and freelancers who have to jump back and forth between task management services and payment applications. Users can either select from a self-hosted application option on your own server or through their monthly cloud service plan. Communication tools, project management, and payment are primarily siloed technologies, incorporating them into one platform can ease learning curves for new tools and support business processes within one interface.

Another emerging collaborative tool is LucidChart, designed for working on diagrams and charts with other team members on any device. A diverse template gallery can be used for building diagrams on anything from financial portfolios to software development workflows. Businesses are trending to an increasingly visual medium, with the ability to confer their message easily projected through informative graphics and interactive guides to their products. LucidChart is available to anyone who needs to diagram rapidly and effectively.

The Productive Road Ahead

Increasing productivity to save time is one of the most effective ways to reduce work overload and balance your schedule. Subsequent effects on improved health through reduced stress are profound. For businesses, specific productivity tools and platforms can help reduce inefficiencies by heightening collaboration and providing the fundamental resources to build new products and designs. In a professional world moving faster than ever, sometimes it is vital to slow down and take measure of how to subtly improve productivity and save precious time.