Planning to be more productive in 2017? Here's how tech can help

Some free tech tools that will help you get more done

As we face into a new year, many are taking the time to set goals for the next 12 months. If you're hoping to be more productive in 2017, these free tech tools may help!

Evernote:

I'm fond of a list. It can help visualise the tasks of the day and prioritise, but many of us tend to scribble down on scraps of paper which are easily lost. Evernote is a cloud-based notebook. 

What does that mean I hear you ask?

Users can log into Evernote from a computer or download the application from anywhere in the world and access their content. Once signed in it's possible to make shopping lists, to-do lists and keep notes on anything and everything. This means if you start your shopping list at your desktop in work, you can then read it whilst in the supermarket from your phone. Incredibly handy. 

I use Evernote in work as it's easily searchable and reduces the amount of notebooks I have on the go. I have a different digital notebook for different areas and update each as I go. There's a premium version of Evernote available, but I have never needed to upgrade as the basic offering is excellent. 

Google Calendar:

If you have Gmail account, you may already use Google Calendar. If not, you should check it out. It is a free function within Gmail that helps users manage their days, weeks and months. It's possible to have separate calendars for different aspects of your life, for example "work" and "home". What I love about Google Calendar is that it's so easy to share your calendars with family and friends. This means all members of the one household can access, view and edit the one calendar. 

I use it to log reminders, appointments, meetings and birthdays. It's possible to colour code types of events, ensuring they stand out and catch your eye. 

It's possible to sync on any smartphone, regardless of your operating system. It's fully cloud based, meaning you can view it from anywhere in the world, at any time.

Inbox management:

This may come as no surprise, but I'm a bit of a nerd when it comes to this subject. I have handed out post-it notes to colleagues in the office with some tips on how they can cut their email count from 2,000 to 20 and bored friends with my rants about it. 

Regardless of what email provider you use or if it’s a work account rather than personal; it is possible to manage your emails efficiently. The key to this is the four “D’s”. This process was initially championed by David Allen, author of “Getting Things Done” but can be tailored to suit the needs of anyone. The four “D’s” are:

  • Delete
  • Delegate
  • Defer
  • Do

This is something I am incredibly strict with myself on, and it really pays off. You'll find my full guide to inbox management here.

(Yes, I know I'm ridiculous)

Tomato Timer:

You may or may not have heard about the Pomodoro Technique. This is a time management method created by Francesco Crillo. The idea is that users work in 25 minute bursts rather than sitting aimlessly in front of a screen for hours. On days when my to-do list is swimming with items, I open this out on my web browser and stick to the 25 minute windows. 

Notifications:

I love reading books about productivity and one piece of advice crops up time and time again. Iif you want to be truly productive, kill pop-up email notifications and any other desktop distractions. Outlook, by default, enables a pop-up notification every time a mail arrives and it is incredibly distracting. Take a moment to disable this function. 

Similarly, don't have tabs open on your browser that will flash and distract you every time you receive a new email, tweet or chat.