I love to be productive and, as a virtual assistant, with the work of several clients to juggle at once, it’s important that I’m using my time effectively for each of them.
To help me be as productive as possible, I use a number of different tools – some more often than others – that will help me get to where I want to be. Here are some of my favourites, the reasons I love them, and how you can make the most of them.
There are alternatives to all of these tools out there, and you might find that something different works slightly better for you and your business. This list is intended as a guide to my own personal preferences and those tools that I use myself.
Trello was an eye-opener when I first discovered it soon before I set up my virtual assistant business. It’s an amazingly simple but useful tool to help you manage tasks and teams. You can have several boards, which are split into lists, which are further split into cards. You can assign team members to each board, list or card, add reminders, keep track of notes, create checklists, include labels, and much more. If the basic options aren’t enough for you, there are also many other add-ons you can make use of.
There is a great free version and also paid versions. As a business that consists of me, myself and I, I don’t find that I need more than the basic free version, but bigger companies may want more.
I could go on about the features available and the ways you can use it but, as this isn’t a blog solely about Trello, I’ll save that for another time.
This is one for those with an iPhone. Notes is a standard app on the iPhone that is simple but useful. You can write reminders to yourself, create checklists, add photos and even include drawings. Depending on the kind of work you do, any one of these can be really handy. I personally like the checklist feature. I simply write a list of all the tasks I need to achieve today (or this week, or this weekend), and then tick them off as I go along. Notes moves what you’ve yet to do to the top of your list, and the completed items move to the bottom – still visible but crossed out – so that you can see how much you have achieved so far.
3. Google Password Manager
There are plenty of password managers out there, but I find Google Password Manager works just fine for me. It suggests strong passwords whenever I create a new account, then remembers them for me. As the passwords, my laptop, and my phone are all protected by fingerprint recognition, this is a great, safe way of using difficult-to-guess passwords without having to remember each and every one of them, or look them up each time I need them.
An extra benefit in my book is that Google Password Manager easily and quickly updates your login details when you change them on a site – checking that you WANT it to do that first. You can also easily delete any old passwords, and are asked each time you create a new account whether you want Google to remember the details.
Whilst Dropbox has its issues – I sometimes have to leave my laptop on overnight if I need to sync particularly large files, and it can take me a while to download those same files when I want to use them – this is still a really useful tool for storage and file management.
As I work remotely with all of my business clients, using Dropbox is a great way of sharing files and information. You can control who has access to do what, share a specific document via a link, or allow a team to access and edit certain files.
As I work with a number of large files such as videos and high-res images, the free version of Dropbox wasn’t enough for my needs, so I upgraded and pay a fairly low amount each year for more storage. However, you may find that the free version is absolutely fine for you, or you might want to upgrade to a higher level.
You can now also edit files directly in Dropbox using Google Docs. As I’m not a great fan of this particular Google offering, I don’t use that, but selective sync allows me to easily open and edit documents using my own desktop programmes.
This is a relatively new one for me, but I’ve possibly saved the best for last.
Until the recent Facebook updates, I actually used a similar app called Newsfeed Burner, but this seems to have unfortunately stopped working since the layout change. So I hunted about and came up with UnDistracted instead.
The basic concept of this Google Chrome extension is that it stops you getting distracted by social media. Split into several sections that covers Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and more, you can select certain parts of these sites to hide. So, for example, I have the newsfeed hidden from Facebook.
As I use Facebook a lot for work, it’s not really an option for me to stop using it altogether. However, when I DO head over there for some work, I often find that I can end up automatically and unproductively scrolling through the newsfeed. This app cuts me off at the source and allows me to carry on to my intended Facebook destination!
When I generally do need a break, I can just open the extension and turn on the newsfeed and notifications again.
So there are some tips I use for keeping on track and getting things done. Do you have any favourite productivity tools?
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