Maintaining focus at work is a major stumbling block for some, especially if there’s no one in your vicinity to crack a whip and check that you’re on track.
In this era of constant connectivity, there are myriad distractions and self-starters often find their productivity wavering. If you use these digital distractions to your advantage however, you’ll improve rather than hinder your output.
An entrepreneurial essential, Evernote is an often-underutilised multi-purpose app. While it appears to be nothing more than a note-taking and organising app, devotees know there’s an endless list of uses within the program for those who are short on time.
Firstly and most importantly, it’s a cloud-based multi-device tool, meaning anything you input into Evernote can be accessed from your phone, computer or any web browser. You can take a note on your phone and access it later at your desk.
Notes don’t have to be written directly into the phone either – Evernote allows you to take a picture of your hand-written jottings from a meeting and later search them by keyword when you need them.
The app doesn’t just keep a track of written information: it can create audio and picture notes, scan magazine articles and business cards (and extract the contact information into a separate note for later reference, as well as search for the related LinkedIn profile) and clip website pages. It’s a great tool for collation and by saving you the time required to jump between several apps or places where your information is stored, you’ll have more time in your pocket for other things.
When you’re preparing for a meeting or presentation, it’s easy to focus on the task at hand and work solely on perfecting your project but what about the people you’re actually presenting to?
Brushing up on the interests and achievements of those that you cross professional paths with often gives you the edge in rapport building but understandably, you don’t want your free-flowing banter to be the result of hours of research.
Refresh collates all the public and online data relating to your new colleague instantly, in essence, creating a little digital dossier on your chosen person which makes small talk infinitely easier. You’ll seem seamlessly connected and never be stuck for a name or a talking point again.
Ever left a location after running errands, only to realise you need to go back again for that missing puzzle piece? Have you ever said to yourself, ‘don’t forget to call Sarah when you get to your desk,’ only to later forget?
Avoid these details slipping your mind by using location-based prompts to remind you of any tasks that can be done in the immediate area.
Your iPhone already has this ability, you just have to make sure you’ve activated its capability.
You’ll have to allow the software access to your location first (Settings > Privacy > Location Services) and then, allow the Reminders app the access to the same information (Reminders > Allow Location Access > While Using the App).
Once you’ve made a new reminder, click the “i” button on the side and toggle “Remind me at a location” and select your specific location – this could be the petrol station, your office or even home. You can even select if you’d like the reminder to appear when you arrive or depart the location.
SALUTE THE DESK
When Virgin entrepreneur Richard Branson was asked to reveal his secret to success, his thoughtful yet wonderfully simple answer was: “work out.” Studies agree that taking a break is essential to keep yourself focused as it allows the brain to recharge for whatever the rest of the working day will ultimately bring.
Exhaustion and overwork is the enemy of work itself and in order to stay at peak productivity, it’s essential to take regular breaks, even if they’re short and sweet.
Salute the Desk is an app that not only reminds you of when a break is necessary – you can pre-program timed alerts and reminders into the app – but more importantly, it leads you through a simple yoga workout. You don’t need to leave your desk or find a large chunk of time: all sequences are organised into short bursts that are achievable at a desk, so you can easily stretch your muscles and quiet the mind. There are no excuses – even the busiest person can fit a five-minute workout into their day.
Picture this scenario: it’s 11pm on Saturday evening and you suddenly remember you need to send an email regarding a meeting on Monday afternoon. Short of reminding yourself with a post-it or digital reminder and writing the email on Monday morning itself, you risk forgetting to write the email at all. That’s where Boomerang for Gmail comes in. The add-on program allows you to schedule a draft email to be sent whenever you feel is appropriate.
When it comes to weekends or late nights, you don’t always want those you’re working with to know that you’re reachable. And even if you’re the type of person that works out of hours, sometimes you want to observe the fact that others don’t. You can schedule all of those late night emails for a Monday morning timeslot that falls within relevant office hours for your recipient. Forget setting a reminder for yourself to follow-up on that email tomorrow – write it now, when your response is fresh and you’ve remembered, and schedule for Monday morning at 9am.
You can also set Boomerang to remind you if you haven’t heard back from your recipient or to prompt you to follow up. When you’re busy, there’s a lot to be said for getting things out of the way.