We have all had them, those days where you just can’t seem to get things done. You’re spending too much time on the internet or you seem to be jumping from task to task. I wanted to share with you a few tools and techniques that really help me when I’m struggling to get work done.
With willpower being a limited resource the draw of social media, news sites, or whatever other type of content you want to consume is all too accessible. Anti-social is a really simple app that blocks your internet connection to only a few sites, those that you deem the most distracting. After the timer you set runs out you will be able to gain access to those sites. The only way to get back on those sites during the timed period is by completely rebooting your computer. This really should be enough of an interruption that you can control yourself.
Free Keep focused: (free)
( http://www.softpedia.com/get/Desktop-Enhancements/Clocks-Time-Management/Keep-Focused.shtml ).
The term pomodoro comes from the Italian for apple. It is in reference to apple shaped egg timers. Basically you break you work blocks down into 30 minute work periods. 25 minutes of intense focus on only one task. This is followed up by a 5 minute break. This break should be used to setup the next task.
Currently I am using an app called keepfocused. This is a windows application that logs your activities.
The place where this is really effective is when you have larger tasks that require no interruptions. Also, this is fantastic for addressing communication. If you are able to batch your communication to one or two sessions per day you’ll be able to focus on your specific tasks.
Where this doesn’t work is when you’re working in shorter 5-10 minute tasks or in an environment that has continual interruptions. I would personally look for opportunities to reduce the amount of distractions by negotiating with those around you or your supervisor to limit your time spent in email. Possibly, mention this as an experiment.
Use keep focused to work in sections called pomodoro’s then you export the results of those tracking events to build your completed list.
Additionally this app very simply keeps a log of the items that you enter into each session
Evernote ( https://evernote.com/download/ ) (free)
I know this is cheating a bit but I use Evernote every day. Evernote has really become the hub of the way that I do my work on a daily basis. To make this less of a cheat I’ll provide you with some of the ancillary apps that I use to “remember everything”
This is a browser specific app. At this point I really like the version for chrome. There are a lot of features available in the Chrome versions that just aren’t available with the Firefox version. What about Internet Explorer? Friends don’t let friends use IE.
- Email to Evernote: https://evernote.com/introduction/email-into-evernote
– The long and short of this is that I email myself notes and to-do’s from my email to make sure they get handled. Evernote provides you with an email address in your account settings that will allow you to send information to your default folder
Skitch is a very lightweight screen shot app. It’s a bit more robust than just using print screen and not as robust as snaggit which is $99. At the most basic level Skitch will allow you to save your screen shots to images or to Evernote as you decide.
What are your favorite tools that help you get things done? Leave a comment or find me on Twitter