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There's a lot to get done every day and there's never enough time to do it.
Between work, family, properties, websites, businesses, friends, exercise, proper nutrition and good amounts of sleep we all clearly could use about 40 hours in each day.
Unfortunately, that's not the case.
And that's where little productivity tips and tools have helped us GREATLY.
These change over the years and we're using things that didn't make this list but here's a some that have been rocking our world in a big way.
This is a like your personal IT professional managing all your digital stuff for you.
You get a few Gigs of space for free. It installs on your computer and looks like a regular folder on your file system ... except that anything you put in it is available to you from anywhere.
I've now dropped ALL my 75 plus Gigs of digital files into it (I purchased a bigger plan). It took like two days to sync it all with Dropbox but here's the thing...
I can now throw my MacBook Pro in the garbage, buy a new one and have access to all my files without much hassle at all. In the past, I spent HOURS and HOURS moving files between my old computer and my new one. No more!
And I can access my files from my iPhone, any browser, Carol's computer in the kitchen (Carol = my wife) ... anywhere. Love it.
The other day I forgot to email someone something and on the road, I loaded up the Dropbox app on my iPhone and forwarded it them in a snap.
It's also so easy to share pictures with people now without attaching a million large file ... now it's just a shared Dropbox link to my folder that they get ... it's glorious and makes me happy.
I also have my iPhone syncing any pictures and "Rock Star Minute" videos I take directly to my Dropbox folder for this stuff. Brilliant.
Now here's the important part...
When my mind is not worrying about backing up or losing files I no longer to waste brain energy on those thoughts ... it frees up brain cycles to be used on much more important items.
I take a video and it just magically gets stored and backed up.
Sounds strange I know ... but it's true.
We've tried our fair share of "productivity" tools and "workflow" tools and "project management tools".
And it turns out for us, simple lists that are easily accessible are what is used most often. When a simple project gets tied up in a complicated website with multiple steps to view and update tasks then the tool itself gets ignored.
Gmail Shared Tasks is a super inexpensive way ($25/year) to create a task list right in your Gmail email account and share it with another person.
You can now create lists of tasks for various projects and share them with a family member, virtual assistant, team member seamlessly.
It's not the best for huge projects with milestones, but we've found for the 80/20 rule applies. You almost never use all the functionality of heavier project management software ... this is been a great tool.
Aside: You're using Gmail right? If not please dump your other email ASAP. The "search" functionality alone in Gmail is enough to make the switch. Stop filing stuff, "archive" it in Gmail and then you can access anything via search. Sometimes it may take you a bit longer to find stuff but you save A LOT of time that you waste filing stuff in proper folders.
Want to record an important call? Skype and the Skype App called "Call Record" are a great combo. We've just started using it and the clarity of VOIP calls has come a very long way.
And from Skype, you can call regular telephone numbers.
The quality is excellent and it's cheap.
In the past, we used conference call services that had monthly fees and the quality was pretty poor. If you're using Windows I think you need the "Pamela" app as Call Record is for Mac's only I believe.
We're long-term Windows people. We both have IT and software backgrounds and know a lot about how Windows works so we laughed at the Mac for a long time. The idea that you didn't have direct access to the operating system files was always strange ... it seemed like a toy.
Then we got our first MacBook Pro's last year.
It took us two weeks of frustration to make the switch and I almost threw the thing through the wall in my office on two separate occasions.
Now I sleep with it next to my bed sometimes. LOL.
Little things like closing the lid and having it activate instantly when you open it back up and the integration of the operating system with the hardware is great.
I'm so comfortable with the trackpad thingy that I don't even use a mouse any more ... one less thing to handle and worry about.
But the coolest part?
I use several "Reminder Lists" on the Mac for various things. Team Meeting lists, Website Project Lists, Real Estate Lists, Marketing Lists, Life Lists, To-Do Lists ... I've also recreated Stephen Covey's 4 quadrants into these lists (Seven Habits of Highly Effective People book stuff).
Not only are reminders sent to me ... as you'd expect ... I can pop out my iPhone and access them all anytime. No extra software to buy, manage, upgrade, think about. It's all integrated.
I can set reminders that are tied into the GPS of my phone so that when I leave a location I get a reminder to make a call or when I arrive at the office I'm reminded to ask someone something.
It's freakin' great and it's another thing that makes me happy 🙂
If you haven't checked out IFTTT yet then you'll like this.
It's short form for "If This Then That" which is programmer speak for ...
If this happens then I would like this next thing to occur.
You can have it set up to monitor your email for certain emails and then send you a text ... great for when your boss emails you and you want to know...LOL!
Or to send you weather updates if certain conditions are met.
Or to save any pictures of you on Facebook to your Dropbox.
Or you can automate tasks and update to-do lists based on certain things occurring.
And you can have fun...
I have these WiFi light bulbs that I've purchased from Philips called "Hue". I'm going to use IFTTT to use my iPhone to detect when I'm close to home and then have these light bulbs flash all sorts of colours.
It'll totally freak out my family - can't wait!! Again, makes me happy!
Check out all the IFTTT Channels by clicking here.
We just got a Podcast voice over musical intro created for $30 using Fiverr.com.
And we use eLance regularly for all sorts of website work. We just posted a new job yesterday for someone to turn a hand-drawn sketch into a very colourful professional mind map that we need for a new marketing campaign.
The job was created and a contractor was chosen ... we're expecting the finished product later today.
If you're struggling to get stuff done check out what's available to you via virtual contractors ... amazing stuff.
We're not using this one yet but wanted to share something that comes very highly recommended.
Several business owners we know ... who we respect a lot ... have been using this service to document processes for their real estate properties, their business operations, their marketing campaigns so that they can easily hand stuff off to assistants, employees, family members etc.
We've been documenting operations in various ways but the simplicity of this tool looks impressive.
This is our next little adventure ... we'll be playing with it shortly.
BulletProof Coffee aka Dragon Fuel
OK, this one isn't really a tool ... it's a beverage.
We've been drinking Bulletproof Coffee for a few weeks now (actually, I have ... Tom. I'm about to brew up Nick his first taste).
It's pure rocket fuel.
We're not coffee drinkers so I was super skeptical of this.
You basically mix coffee, grass-fed butter (it must be grass-fed!!) and concentrated coconut oil together in a blender to create this thing. Turns out it's amazing.
We gave someone in our office their first taste and gave a little too much ... in his words, he felt like he was "dancing with the dragon" all day. LOL!
He now calls it Dragon Fuel 🙂
So you've got to ease your way into this ... especially if you haven't been eating a high-fat diet. So be warned! But it's at least worth exploring. Here's a link to how you make it.
And there you have it ... 9 productivity tools to rock your world.
Now let's all go out and get things done today so we can LIVE LIFE ON OUR TERMS!!
Until next time ... Your Life! Your Terms!
Thanks Tom and Nick for featuring SweetProcess in your article.
I am one of the co-founders of SweetProcess and I am available to answer any question that the readers of your blog might have regarding how to document procedures and/or systematize their business.
So if you are reading this comment and have a question, go ahead, leave it as a comment and I will respond with an answer.
Nice GTD tools Tom and Nick.
A couple I like to use are http://www.gqueues.com/ for shared to do lists and Super TinTin for Skype recording.
I also use a program called Fences on my desktop. That puts everything in boxes. Important and Not Urgent and then Important and Urgent. And a few other Categories.
I love this list! Great article as always. It almost makes me wish I were a Mac user. My husband (also a former IT guy) moved over to the dark side last year and bought a MacBook Pro. He now loves it. My ThinkPad is great but it may be time to look seriously at Macs for my next computer. You make a compelling case.
My business partner and I were just talking about the fact that we need to systematize our business to handle growth. Can't wait to check out SweetProcess - and to pick Owen's brain. Many thanks.
Thank you Tom and Nick!
I love these roundup listings. Let me add my own personal choice. Have you heard about Nutcache? I just discovered this amazing free invoicing and time tracking app. It's the perfect tool for entrepreneurs and freelancers. Well worth checking out!
Amazing article!...like always.
I'm a big fan of apps and programs to help with productivity. I will definitely be trying these out....especially excited about the dragon fuel lol.
Here is a small list of some productivity tools I find useful, that some readers may want to check out.
1) "Way Of Life" app for iPhone (not sure if it is available for other phones). - Basically a simple, but effective way to track and trend new habits that you want to implement. It's helped me develop a habit of reading at least 30 minutes a day, eat healthy, and meditating each day...amonst other things. Has some nice graphs/charts, so that you can trend your progress.
2) Toodledo app and website.
Toodledo is a powerful productivity tool for organizing your to-do list and notes. Apple ranked Toodledo in the top 30 paid iPad apps of all time
With Toodledo you can:
◆ Track the priority, start date, due date, time, length or status of a task.
◆ Assign the task to a folder, context or goal.
◆ Flag the task with a visual star or tag it with keywords and notes.
◆ Get audible popup alarms.
◆ Create tasks that repeat on a schedule of your choosing.
◆ Start and stop timers to keep track of time spent on projects.
◆ View your tasks on a map and get proximity alerts when you are near a location where you have things to do.
◆ Search, filter, sort and drill down into your tasks in a variety of ways to see the subset of tasks that are useful right now and ensure that important tasks float to the top.
◆ Quickly find important tasks with the "Hotlist". This smart to do list is automatically filled with important tasks based on a mathematical formula.
Mark, what a gem! I've been testing Nutcache since I saw your message yesterday and it is truly magic. I work with people around the world and this app is available in several languages.
Thanks! I fully recommend it to anyone looking for a free solid app.
Great list. Thank you Tom and Nick. Going to check out sweetprocess now!
Personal productivity fav: boomerang is a great app to make sure that emails you send out are 1) read 2) responded to 3) and that your "task" if gets done at a certain date.
I also use rescuetime to follow how I'm spending my time and optimize it. You might also enjoy checking out Evercontact, an app my team has developed to save professionals time by auto-enriching their address books. Feel free to read more on our site, and if you all wanted the VIP tour, I'd be happy to set you up!