• Dionne

5 FREE Productivity Tools I Couldn't Live Without

With the current Coronavirus mess, tens of thousands of people have had to make the transition from working in an office to working from home. This can certainly take a bit of getting used to. It's easy for productivity to go out the window when you've suddenly got all of your homely distractions staring you right in the face and no one staring over your shoulder! Luckily, we live in a world of incredible tech and there are so many tools and bits of software out there that can help to maximise your productivity, no matter where you're working from. I've worked from home for about six years in total and although I've always adored it, the following 5 tools make my daily life so much easier:

I love Trello. I have a couple of clients who give me quite varied tasks. For instance, one of my clients might have me doing anything from podcast show notes, to social media, to adding blogs to their website. Sometimes the list of tasks can get pretty big and it's so easy to lose track of things when everything is done via email. Trello allows you to pin tasks to a board (or even separate boards) so you can see exactly what you need to do and when, and you can tick them off as you go along. No more worrying about missing emails. This one has seriously been a lifesaver for me.

The good old social media management platform! OK, so I use the paid version of this (about £15 a month) but only because I have multiple social accounts to look after (both mine and some of my clients). If you only have to worry about your own social media accounts, you might be able to get away with the free version as you can add up to three accounts and schedule up to ten posts in advance. I highly recommend scheduling your social media in advance. It saves so much stress.

I block out a couple of hours every Wednesday, create and schedule all of my posts for the next week and that's that! Boom. Some people like to schedule theirs weeks or even months in advance and that's fine, but it's a total ball ache to change everything if say……..a global pandemic suddenly come along. Just remember that social media is called "social" for a reason, so make sure to engage with your audience. If you ignore them, they'll ignore you. However, don't do this throughout the day as it's too distracting. Instead, pick a time each day you're going to reply to messages, comments etc and block out that time like it's an actual task.

You spend ages writting some amazing article, check it for daft spelling mistake nd grammatical errors….."that looks mint, let's post it online!". Before you now it, the grammar police come banging down you're door becaus you've left loadz of mistakes in there! Luckily for you (and me), there's Grammarly, the online proofreader. The thing is, no matter how great your grammar etc is, if you've been writing for hours, your brain tends to miss any obvious mistakes when you're reading through your final draft. Grammarly has a free and paid version. The free version will sort you out with basic writing corrections e.g will change stuff like "there over their" to "they're over there" so it is great but you'll still need to look out for any mistakes it's missed as it can and does miss some. I recommend going away for an hour or so and coming back with fresh eyes. Even better, get someone else to proofread for you too! Between you, someone else and Grammarly….you should be good to go!

I started using Zoom instead of Skype around a year ago and I find the video quality to be much better. Skype always seemed to freeze on me, even when I and whoever I was speaking to had top-notch broadband. Zoom's free plan lets you host meetings with up to 100 participants for 40 mins. Perfect if you want to stay in touch with your team for regular half-hour catch ups. Knowing you have a time-limit will also stop you yapping on too! ;)

Clockify is the time-tracking software I use every day when doing my client work. However, it's not just great to use if you're a VA, it's a great tool for anyone working from home. Tracking your time enables you to get an accurate look at your workweek, see exactly where your time goes and help you decide if you need to improve your productivity. For example, you may have been giving yourself four hours to do a certain task each day for the last year, but when you track your time and remove any distractions (i.e you shouldn't be tracking your time for a task if you're messing around on Facebook!), you might find that you can do this task in closer to three hours! If you work as part of a team, you can all log in your individual time and see who has worked on what and when.

Conclusion I really feel that the world is going to work differently, once all of this is over. I think employers are going to realise that they don't actually need a huge office that costs tens of thousands of pounds to run each year. Employees are also going to realise that they actually like working from home and not sitting in traffic for an hour each morning and eve. They might like speaking more time with their kids and want to work from home permanently. I feel like the secret is out. Working from home is fricken awesome! https://www.slater-paservices.co.uk/post/the-reality-of-working-from-home I reckon that so many people are going to be working from home a lot more after this whole virus mess is over and if your If you liked this article, please do share it and check out a similar article I wrote waaaay back in Feb 2019 - 5 Top Apps For Small Businesses. Bonus Productivity Tips!!

• Tidy your laptop regularly – Messy desktop, messy mind! Learn keyboard shortcuts – Seriously. You'll wonder how you ever got this far without them… Keep a notepad on your desk – Because there's nothing more satisfying than crossing a completed task off of an actual to-do list :D Some things may take longer than expected…and that's ok. Give yourself a break.



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