As a full-time internet person, I have to get down to business and be as productive as possible. While I love creating online, it can be challenging to stay focused. There is so much calling your name on a day-to-day basis. Why focus when you could watch a video on the internet? Cute puppy videos on Twitter are very compelling, which is why I use these tools to get myself back on track and focused on the future. Here are just seven productivity tools I use on a regular basis.
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One of my productivity secret weapons is the Pomodoro Technique. I've talked about this on The Happy Arkansan in the past when I was in graduate school. I still use this method of productivity, even now that I am building my own little space on the internet. I love using this method of productivity. It gets me in the zone and helps me tune out the rest of the world so I can focus on being as productive as possible.
While it's super easy to use the Pomodoro technique with just the timer on your phone, I like Focus Keeper because it makes the Pomodoro process seamless. Instead of having to switch between the 25-minute and 5-minute sessions, Focus Keeper does everything for you!
There is a free and paid version of Focus Keeper on the Apple App Store. The paid version is a one-time purchase of $1.99. I've heard great things about the app Engross for Android users. For Chrome users, I also like the Chrome extension Marinara when my phone is dead or not nearby.
If you think that it's weird to use this method, I say give it a shot or modify it. You're probably already taking breaks when you work anyway, at least with the Pomodoro Technique these breaks are built in and you don't feel so bad for taking the breaks.
Related Reading: Why I Am Obsessed With The Pomodoro Technique
If you are like me, you cannot work well to music with lyrics in it. When I try to work to music with words, I often have a dance party in my office. I don't get paid to host mini-dance parties. What I do get paid to do is write content for my clients!
I discovered Brain.FM in 2018 thanks to a Facebook group I am in. The first night I tried it, I had a productivity headache, but I got SO much done that night. Honestly, I am not sure what they do to the music, but it was one of the best nights I had. Now I frequently use Brain.FM music in tandem with my Pomodoro app Focus Keeper.
What I love about Brain.FM most is the plethora of music stations. I have been obsessing over the Grooves station along with the Cinematic Music Station. Brain.FM is always adding new stations or songs to the mix. You will never get bored with what they have to offer.
Brain.FM is not free. You can listen to five free sessions, though, to make up your mind before you commit to a month, quarter, or year. I encourage you to use your free sessions to see if Brain.FM could potentially make you a more productive person. Once you decide that Brain.FM is for you it's $6.95 per month, $15.99 per quarter, or $47.40 per year.
Here's a note for you free sessions: Try to use the longer times for your free sessions, that way you get the most bang for your free trial. I usually play my sessions for two hours, even if I take my headphones off and do something else for a minute or I have my short breaks in between.
If you are handling a ton of assignments from random companies like I do, you have to find a way to organize everything. I love using Asana to organize the content calendar for my blogs and my assignments from other people's blogs.
Some people prefer Trello as their content calendar, but I am not a fan of Trello's visual look. I like that Asana is much more calendar-based and easy to interpret. I know exactly what assignments I have due and when they need to get done.
As you saw last week, I also use an Erin Condren planner for other detailed scheduling. In 2019 I will be blocking out my time more so I have room for content creation, social media scheduling, client communication, and more.
I use Asana as more of a high-level scheduler where I dump out everything I have due, so I don't forget.
How you decide to plan your day-to-day life is up to you! There are so many ways to plan out your content and your everyday life.
Asana has paid plans, but you shouldn't subscribe unless you are using it for an advanced team. Asana's free plan works just fine for anyone using it for themselves or a small group that doesn't need advanced features.
Asana isn't for everyone, and you may find that you love Trello more. You may even find that Google Calendar is a great option too!
4. Google Drive
Google Drive is an essential part of my business. Many of my clients use Google Drive, and I've been using it for years now. It's a great tool to store all of your writing, spreadsheets, et cetera. The best part about Google Drive is that it comes free with your Google account. Most people have a Google account these days.
If you need to collaborate online a lot, you have to use Google Drive. Google Drive makes it easy to send work to your client, let their entire team work on the content, and get back to you as needed. It can become a bit hectic if you allow too many cooks into the kitchen, but it's a great tool for freelancers to utilize.
The last thing I love about Google Drive is that you can download everything in different formats. Most of my clients are good with a Google Drive link, but some in the past have wanted Microsoft Word documents. For those clients, I can easily download my Google Drive documents as Microsoft Word documents without needing to have a Microsoft Word membership myself. It's perfect for me!
Google Drive is free with any Google account. If you use G Suite like me, it comes with your G Suite address. (G Suite is how I have a Google email address with my domain name for this blog!)
Google Drive is a must use tool if you collaborate and it's so easy to get the hang of if you have used other word processors in the past.
Do you need to hunker down and get serious AF about productivity? I love using the computer application Freedom when I need to lock things down.
What I love most about Freedom is that you can turn on a setting so you can't turn off Freedom during a session. I also like that it's a computer level application, not a Chrome extension. This means I can't just pull up another browser when I get desperate. If you are prone to moving browsers or just finding workarounds, I think Freedom could be a great idea for you.
You can download Freedom across devices so if you are prone to distractions on your computer, phone, tablet, et cetera you can download Freedom and use it to block a ton of distractions when you are working. Freedom has a great list filled with sites that many people are distracted by. You can also add your own distracting sites to the list so those will be blocked as well.
Freedom is another paid application. You get 7 free sessions before you have to pay, though! Freedom is $6.99 per month, $29 per year, or $129 on the Forever plan.
Nobody has time to be distracted by websites constantly. If you don't have the control (which many people don't, you are not alone!) make yourself have the control. There are too many tools out there that help you to be struggling if you can help it!
As a writer, I am not the best at spelling/grammar. Now, this doesn't mean that I am horrible, but I'm not going to win any spelling/grammar awards any time soon. I will say this to anyone who will listen; you don't need to be the best writer to be a writer. I know that seems counterintuitive, but hear me out.
The best writers are the people who get their stories out there. You can't let the world judge your content if you are too meticulous and perfectionist to get it done. I get my writing done; then I run it through Grammarly so that I can fix all the issues I think are most important. I can make pretty coherent sentences; I might miss a few commas or misspell some words, and that's okay.
Grammarly has been my not so secret weapon since I was in graduate school. I am honestly not sure what I ever did before I started using Grammarly.
Grammarly has a free version that you can access that is a pretty awesome introduction to Grammarly. I am subscribed to Grammarly Premium. I am not going to lie, Grammarly Premium isn't a cheap subscription. My suggestion is to get on their email list! They have 50% off sales every few months that makes the first year more affordable.
Otherwise, if you are paying full price, Grammarly is $29.95 per month, $59.95 per quarter, or $139.95 per year. You save SO much with the yearly subscription so if you can afford a year at once, go for that one.
Last, but not least, let's talk about Feedly. This is a random subscription that might not seem all that helpful at first, but it's money I spend every month because I love how it helps me organize all the blogs I follow. For most people, I encourage you to stick with an RSS reader or a free website like Bloglovin'.
Feedly allows me to keep up with tons of blogs that I don't follow for “fun,” but mainly for work. I love reading these blogs, but they aren't the lifestyle blogs I would sit down with on a rainy day. Instead, these are the blogs that I follow to schedule out on social media for my freelance business. I also follow these blogs for inspiration for clients or my own blog content for my freelance biz.
With Feedly, I can organize my sources into various feeds, I can watch Google keywords, I can easily share posts to Buffer (my social media scheduler), and I can view Feedly on all my devices.
Feedly is free if you want to use it with limited features. If you want to pay for Feedly Pro, it is $7 per month or $65 per year.
If you want something more powerful than Bloglovin' but you aren't ready to pay just yet, use the free version. Feedly will change the way that you collect and organize content to share on social media!
Conclusion: Productivity Tools For The New Year
Productivity is such an important thing to strive toward. In 2019, we should all strive toward getting more done! I wanted to start the new year with some fresh ideas to help you become more productive! Technology can be such a massive help if used the right way.
I hope that I let you in on some new applications that you haven't seen before. I know how difficult it can be to sit down, cut the distractions/excuses, and get to work!