We've all dreamt it... envisaged ourselves working as part of a utopian community. A workforce of robots taking care of the small things for us, the menial tasks and the boring stuff that just gets in the way. Only it doesn't just ‘get in the way’ does it? Often the processes and administrative tasks at work are the very basis for business success – so if we can’t ignore them, what can we do? What happens when R2-D2 tells you he’s sick of doing your filing? Or C3PO is busy that week? Then what?
Fear not – we've created a top ten list of workplace productivity tools to make you more efficient and ultimately help you get more out of your working day.
Pocket is a brilliant ‘save now, read later’ tool, allowing you to absorb articles, videos and pretty much anything on the web like a sponge in a highly efficient manner. Say goodbye to your days of being easily distracted, Pocket allows you to take care of the task at hand and then read away to your heart’s content when you have some free head space.
TrafficLive is a time and customer relationship management (CRM) tool that gives you a complete overview of current time resource across your team, while allowing you to manage relationships with clients and suppliers alike. It also includes tonnes of other handy inbuilt gadgets – such as invoicing with integrated email functionality to communicate with your accounts department – coupled with fantastic database capabilities.
TrafficLive essentially allows you to record time in real time. Weekly timesheets on a Friday may keep your finance team happy, but their accuracy is random at best. TrafficLive facilitates accurate, timely recording through a simple one click interface, making everything more efficient in the process.
3. Google Alerts
Interested in a particular topic and worried about falling behind on the latest trends? Google Alerts are the perfect way to stay on top of developments in your industry, only you won’t have to spend hours looking for the news yourself. What are you waiting for? We told you, R2-D2 and all other famous robots are busy – this one’s down to you. Get started here by entering your chosen search query… you’re one step away from being an oracle: http://www.google.co.uk/alerts
4. Turn off your emails
Does this strike fear into your very being? It shouldn’t. After all, if you get into work and read your emails straight away then you are instantly switching your focus from the main tasks you need to pay most attention to that day, while putting yourself into fire-fighting mode. Your main tasks suffer as a result, you’ll get more stressed out and believe it or not, your IQ will actually get lower in the process!
5. Skype Messenger
Using Skype Messenger in the workplace can help you and your colleagues to be more efficient with inter-company communications. An email requires a certain level of formal structuring and thought, while going up to a colleague to ask them a question takes time and means interrupting both what you and they are doing. Using Skype Messenger caters for quick-fire responses to those little questions that usually require a yes or no answer. Oh did we mention you can use Skype’s voice calls for cheaper conference calls as well? Yep. It does that too.
6. Microsoft Outlook or iCalendar
Microsoft Outlook Calendar or iCalendar doesn’t just have to be a tool for booking in meetings and being able to see when June from accounts is on holiday. It’s also a fantastic tool to block out set periods of time where you will be working on a particular project or task. This not only provides a virtual ‘do not disturb’ to other colleagues wanting a piece of your time, but also alerts you with reminders of when you should be dedicating specific time to tasks, forcing you to save looking at cat videos on the Internet for a later date.
7. Audio record your meetings with your mobile phone
Pen and paper are so passé – who really has time to write these days anyway? OK, kidding with that one, the death of pen and paper would be a tragedy, but there’s no reason why a little tech can’t help you focus on the task at hand.
Most smart phones have an audio record function, allowing you to effortlessly take on board every single word that is said in a meeting, saving huge amounts of time later by negating the need to ask time wasting questions such as “oh, remind me what we said in that meeting?”. Let the tech do the listening for you, allowing you to offer little gems of insight that add real value in a meeting situation, instead of frantically scribbling down notes that may well make no sense in a week’s time.
8. Nike Fit App
Exercise releases endorphins, which in turn makes you feel happier and more alert. Get where we’re going with this? That’s right, it’s a good old bit of lunchtime exercise to re-energise and make your afternoon more productive than a bee in a hive.
There are plenty of apps available to track and beat your personal best times, but Nike Fit App is a great start. Run Forest, run.
Research shows it's pretty hard to be creative and productive in a quiet space and a loud workplace can be frustrating and distracting. However, the mix of calm and commotion in an environment like a coffee house is proven to be just what you need to get those creative juices flowing. Coffitivity offers exactly this, a gentle hum to help you make the most out of your day.
We are well aware that there’s plenty of this ‘going around’ at the moment, with yoga, Pilates and mindfulness everywhere you turn, but in reality meditation is a fantastic way to reboot your mind, freeing it from all the noise. A lunchtime meditation or evening session can help to reinvigorate your senses, leaving you fresh for the afternoon or next day ahead.
What are your tips for being productive in the workplace? We’d love to hear from you, so let us know in the comments section, or send your tweets to @Flexioffices on Twitter.