My job requires me to wear a lot of different hats. No, I’m not a hat model (ha!) but I do have a lot of varying responsibilities and projects I’m constantly jumping between. The only way sometimes to stay sane is with a little help, well and wine too, but that’s always after work. Honestly without some of these tools I’m pretty sure I would’ve been fired months ago, it’s too easy to forget to finish something or get distracted by something shiny. I know that makes me sound awful, but we’ve all been there.
Some of these tools are obvious (excel is on this list, let’s be real), but they’re all crucial to my ability to get everything done each and everyday.
Podcasts are my little shield against office distractions. They help me stay focused on whatever task I’m working on by providing just enough distraction to help me tune out the things around me. Especially with March Madness happening and everyone talking about their bracket picks like they’re on ESPN, podcasts are my go-to tool for rolling through my task lists every day. My current favorites: Stuff You Should Know, How I Built This, and I’m looking forward to S-Town which will be released towards the end of March.
Evernote is my meeting helper. I keep separate notebooks for long-term projects I’m working on as well as for recurring meetings. That way I can easily look to see what we talked about last week and what I need to accomplish. It makes finding to do list and action items wonderfully easy. Plus there’s a million little ways to stay organized and on top of everything, like with different color fonts, check boxes, easy searching functions, and links/image functions built in.
I love Excel, I’m sure I’ll be checked into rehab shortly, but I don’t even care. Excel not only is an amazing tool to analyze data, but I use it as a weekly calendar. Outlook is cool and all, but nothing beats how easily rearrangeable and editable Excel is. I have a weekly calendar sheet that’s split up into the days of the week and then three sections: Routine Tasks, Meetings, & To-Do’s.
Routine tasks stay the same, but the meetings and to-do’s I update on the fly. As things are accomplished I highlight them green, if they’re in progress they’re yellow, and if I know I’m not getting to it I highlight them in red. This helps me understand the workflow of my week from a bird’s eye view and allows me to move things around as I need. If I have a million meetings on Wednesday, I’ll try to pull ahead tasks as early as possible to stay ahead of the game.
I try to set a lot of timers for myself during the day, especially when I feel I’m moving really slow or struggling to stay focused. On the days where I’m having shiny object syndrome, I’ll give myself forty-five minutes of complete focus, then get up and take a quick walk or go get coffee. Having little time blocks helps make the day go faster and keep me motivated.
Todoist is basically a wonderful, digital to-do list. I know, the name made that really hard to guess! But it’s great because of all of the features and how easy it is to update and add to-do items, plus the separate categories is really helpful to keep projects organized. I mostly use this at home, but I love how I can keep my blog to-do list separate from the house and can view what I need to accomplish by the day or by the category.
If you’re someone who’s working really early in the morning or until late at night, F.lux will be your best friend. It uses the time of day to adjust your screen’s color to help keep your eyes from being strained. That means when you work until 1 am you can close your laptop and not feel like your eyes were just on fire. Lifesaver.
We use Smartsheet at work and I really love it. It’s basically a similar version of google sheets, but more protected and focused on business. It’s set up just like a spreadsheet, with lots of helpful features like stoplight to gauge the status of items, a great search bar that searches every sheet and cell, and can be used/viewed by multiple people at the same time. It’s especially nice for conference calls so we can all see the exact information someone is talking about. This one is not a free service, but it can be really helpful and I would definitely recommend!
What do you use on a daily basis to keep you going?!