Whether you just need a quick reminder or are looking to become more productive in 2015, this post covers five tools in my personal tool set (and my team’s) that help increase workplace productivity, collaboration and generally make us better at what we do. What’s even better, wait for it, they’re free…
1. The Inbox Zero Methodology
If I was ever running a company I would make inbox zero mandatory for my employees. No, seriously. Using inbox zero has changed my life – I’m timely to respond to emails, organized and never overwhelmed. I work more efficiently with my direct colleagues as well as my clients and have organized my email folders and labels so I know exactly where to find certain emails anytime.
How many emails are in your inbox right now? Most likely way too many. On top of there simply being too many emails for you to actually manage, you need to stop kidding yourself every day. You’re not going to respond to them, you’re not going to open them and all they’re doing is cluttering your inbox. Label, archive, done.
I’m confident that if you can make the switch to using inbox zero regularly you’ll become more productive, organized and generally feel better about email. Entry level employees all the way to top-level executives will benefit from becoming inbox zero “savvy”. Inbox zero is not just a “work-place thing”, it applies to personal and work email and will change the way you do email.
If you haven’t already heard about Trello, consider yourself late to the game. Trello is hands down my favorite productivity and team collaboration tool. Trello is an agile project management and list tool that lets you manage projects and tasks of all sizes – from start to finish.
My favorite part about Trello is that it allows you to centralize your team’s communication, file management, due dates and project workflow all in one central place. They even have awesome mobile apps for on-the-go management as well.
Here are five examples of how I’ve used Trello:
- To manage client projects
- To design, build and launch this custom team jackets page
- To create and organize this year’s Christmas list – this was by-far the easiest (and most organized) year purchasing Christmas gifts for my family
- To create my weekly grocery list
- To manage outsourced work, communication and files with contractors
For the more advanced users – Trello integrates with many other applications and also has a super flexible API.
Have a client project to manage? How about a team? Want to integrate with applications like Trello, DropBox, Stripe, MailChimp, GitHub and G+? Enough from me – take two minutes and watch this quick video on how you can use Slack today.
4. Join.me – Simple Online Meetings
If you’re not already using join.me you’re likely using GoToMeeting, Jive, WebEx or Google Hangouts to host and run online meetings, share slide decks or even host a webinar. You can simplify your online meetings with Join.me – hands down the simplest online meeting tool on the market. Did I mention it was free?
Working online I need to collaborate with team members and clients often working from a remote location, like my couch! I use Join.me to easily connect with anyone online to have a meeting or share my screen. Join.me also acts as a conference line that anyone can dial into. I’ve found this simple online meeting tool helps increase productivity when working remotely or setting up screen shares.
5. Updating Your To-Do List and Visualizing Tomorrow’s Workday
At the end of every workday, take some time and update your to-do list. Think about what tomorrow’s workday should look like and prioritize bigger items for when you’re most likely to be productive. Some of the tools above actually allow us to easily do this – for example I manage all my to-do lists in Trello. If a digital tool isn’t your thing, this also works great with pen and paper. I’ve found that by allocating some time to refreshing my to-do list at the end of each day and visualizing the following work day, I can quickly get focused on being productive first thing the next morning.
If you’re not already using or have already tried using some of the above tools and methods I encourage you to give it a shot. I’m confident you’ll find ways to increase your personal or your team’s productivity in 2015.
Do you have a favorite productivity or method you’re using to be productive? I’d love to hear – let me know in the comments below.