Whether you’re working a traditional nine-to-five from an office or turning a passion project into a lucrative side business from your garage, there are some days where you can’t seem to find enough time to get everything done.
And while mobile devices are supposed to help us be more efficient on the go, they can just as easily become the ultimate distraction. In our quest to multitask, we end up not completing any task. But used the right way, our phones -- really tiny supercomputers -- can help us shave hours off of our work week.
Here are four productivity tips to get more from your work day without disrupting your life.
1. Be proactive, not reactive.
Ever find yourself scrambling from one task to another without a second to think where you might need to be and what to tackle next? Separate urgent from important by using a task management app to stay on top of your to-dos and save you from a flustered rush in the first place. Apps like Todoist and Accomplish allow you to make lists, prioritize tasks and set reminders to make sure you deliver the most important stuff on time.
Even getting to and from work, offsite meetings and networking events can easily eat up a big chunk of the day. The average person spends an equivalent of five weeks a year commuting, according to the recent Commuter Index from Citi. In urban areas, of course, there’s Uber and Lyft to get from point A to point B, but Waze and Beat The Traffic provide crowd-sourced traffic updates to give you a heads up about accidents and other hazards so you can minimize drive times. If you find yourself running low on gas, GasBuddy and Gas Guru help you find the most cost-effective options that won’t take you too far out of your way.
2. Cut the cords.
When you have to get work done and can’t be in the office, you want the experience to be seamless and use features you're already accustomed to when you are behind the desk. Tools like Office 365 bring the latest version of Office to all of your devices to create, edit, review and share documents no matter where you are. Whether you need to take a quick glance at a document from your kid’s soccer game, or make a business call while you’re walking the dog, having these tools on hand help you integrate work into your day to day.
Save time recapping your brainstorm or compiling your monthly expenses by turning your phone into a mobile scanner with the new Lens app. This tool can also save you time at networking events or trade shows by handily capturing information from business cards and saving it directly into your phone’s contact app. In addition, remote access apps such as LogMeIn and TeamViewer allow you to access and control your desktop from your phone or tablet, so you can grab and update important files that aren’t on your device.
3. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Running a special project might lead to unexpected situations that throw a wrench in your time management for the day. If you need extra help to make sure everything gets executed on time, there are plenty of crowd sourced apps to lend a helping hand.
Companies like UpWork, TaskRabbit and Fiverr can help you find the talent you need when you need it. Whether you’re looking for a freelancer or someone to help you run last-minute errands for your event, these apps will get you the help you need without breaking the bank. Leadership is all about delegation -- you can manage the overall process better and gain back valuable time to work through other items by getting help with the smaller pieces.
4. Ditch the pen and paper to know your numbers.
Your financial data is digital, so it’s time you were too! From speaking with small business owners, we found that 52 percent still manage their finances in a spreadsheet or with pen and paper, which means more time spent attending to taxes around April 15. Jumpstart your taxes and save time by connecting your bank and credit card accounts, PayPal and ecommerce transactions to an online accounting app. It seems like a small task, but you’ll reduce pain at tax time and you’ll be doing yourself a favor by getting a holistic view of all of your finances.