Productivity is a hot topic; we’re all so busy that we’re constantly looking for ways to be more productive, simplify and make our lives generally easier.
Much of the advice out there is around making big changes to how you work, like implementing the Pomodoro technique, batching tasks or using project management systems. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of both project management apps (Asana has been a godsend to my business) and batching. They’ve both been fantastic for making my creative work more efficient.
But what about the little stuff? The day to day admin and random other little tasks that we end up doing; taken individually, these tasks seem innocent enough, but they quickly add up and eat into the time that could be spent on other work, like client projects or chatting to new leads.
I, for one, would love to spend less time on admin stuff and more time designing. So I regularly evaluate the things that niggle at me, things that I think I could be spending less time on and look for ways to simplify them or get rid of them altogether.
Would you like to reclaim some of your admin time too? Then today I’ll show you 4 ways I’ve cut down on the time-sucky, boring admin-and-random-other-stuff. These 4 simple productivity tools do little jobs, but that doesn’t mean they’re not super helpful; they offer quick ways to boost your efficiency and make your life easier.
Let’s get to it!
1. Email filters
It’s no secret I wish I could spend less time in my inbox. Between two businesses and my personal email accounts, that’s a lot of email to deal with, so I like to automate as much of the work as possible.
I have oodles of filters to automatically sort messages that come in. There are filters to take obviously spam emails straight to the spam or trash folder (like anything featuring the name of a well-known medication!). Any other messages I don’t want to see – like newsletters I’ve tried and tried to unsubscribe from yet keep coming – also get filtered into the spam folder.
Things I need to keep but don’t need to see right away, like receipts that I’ll need later when it’s time to do my books, get filtered out of my inbox.
And then for those legitimate messages I do want to see yet have occasionally sneaked into my spam folder, I have a ‘safe senders’ filter to put them in my inbox.
It’s really easy to set up filters on your email and they can make sure your inbox contains only the messages you want and need to see right now. Anything you don’t need to see at all can be sent packing, and things you don’t need right now can be filed away until you do need them.
You might also like: 6 simple steps to tame your inbox
2. Email templates
Do you find yourself typing the same messages over and over again?
I have a lot of those; like the ‘here are your logo files’ message, the ‘thanks for enquiring about writing a guest post’ message, the ‘I’m following up on the quote I sent’ message… I could give you a big list here!
But rather than type the whole thing out each time I have message snippets that I can paste into a message and use as a template. Then with a wee bit of customisation I can send a message in a fraction of the time it used to take.
I use Quicktext for Thunderbird, but each email app has its own version. In Gmail it’s called canned responses and can be set up really quickly.
For each situation where you currently send almost the same message each time, just save your template and you’ll never need to type the whole thing out again. Then anytime you find yourself typing out the same message multiple times, just create a new template and you’ll soon have a whole batch of them.
Have you ever had or been given a piece of text that’s in all caps, but you need it written out normally, in sentence case?
You could just retype it, of course. That’s no hassle if it’s just a word or two, but more than that, or if it happens a lot, and it starts to feel like a waste of time.
That’s where ConvertCase comes in handy. You just paste your text into the box then choose what format you need it converted to. It’ll change all caps into sentence case (or vice versa), make it all lowercase, title case and more. All with just the click of a button; no more typing and retyping your text out in different formats.
You might also like: How to get control of your work-life balance
Yep, it’s a search engine, but Google is also a productivity tool. One that’s saved me huge amounts of time.
Sometimes I need to double-check the dimensions of certain paper sizes; a quick Google search and I have my answer.
If need to convert cm to inches, pounds to dollars or euro, or even pounds to kilos, Google tells me. To convert time zones if I’m setting up a Skype or Zoom call with someone in a different country. Or if someone comments on my Instagram in another language, Google can do a basic translation for me (granted it’s not always perfect, but it’s usually enough to get the gist).
Google can answer all these questions without directing me to another site; it’s all done right there on the search page.
If I don’t know how to do something I can search for a tutorial. Or if someone asks me a question I don’t know the answer to, I can search for a site that will give them the answer. (I don’t actually mind getting questions, but is it wrong that I’m surprised by the amount of people who will ask me a question and wait for me to get back to them rather than just Googling it themselves and getting an answer straight away?)
Over to you
What’s your favourite productivity tip or tool?
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