I’m just like you.
I often start my weekday mornings with a sense of panic – “How do I get ALL of this done today?!” I’ll order a Venti coffee from Starbucks (extra shot of espresso, of course), and plot my plan of attack, which – up until recently – was nothing more than a series of poorly drawn checkboxes in the front page of my notebook.
But simply making a list of the day’s to-do’s wasn’t significantly helping my productivity. I’d get it done, sure – but there had to be a better way to get more done faster. With all of the latest tech improving our lives left and right, I did a deep dive on the productivity hacks the Next Gen Community recommends. Of course, Next Gen members are inspiring in that way; they’re always teaching me new tricks of the trade and telling me about new technological releases. It’s what helps them kick into high gear – and stay in high gear – all the time.
Here’s a list of a few favorites:
Recommended by Mike Levy, Headspace is an app that teaches you to mediate and carve a few minutes out of your day to do so. It doesn’t expect you to be a meditation guru, either (no “oms” and hours in the dark thinking of nothing), but rather encourages mindfulness for 10 minutes and teaches you how to meditate. The American Psychological Association has studied meditation and mindfulness extensively and found that it reduces stress and improves memory, making your workday more enjoyable and more productive. Invest those few minutes in yourself, and you’ll be in the right headspace to get your work done effectively the rest of the day.
Have you ever written the same email or described the same topic hundreds of times? This is especially pertinent when you’re giving multiple people the lowdown on a new initiative or upcoming event. No one wants to rewrite the mission statement of a foundation or type the names of a conference’s keynote speakers 50+ times. I’ve recently resorted to copying and pasting pre-written responses from Notes on my laptop, but MixMax and Gmail take it a step further. On Gmail, it’s called ‘Canned Responses,’ (which community member Allie Felix swears by) and on MixMax, it’s a template. It imports your easily-accessible pre-written responses right into your email composition. It’s shaved off about half of my email time.
For those of us who email often, we inevitably have to send cold emails or talk via email with someone we’ve never met before. A central part of productivity is knowing how to effectively communicate, and we decide how by reading the person we are talking with. Crystal Knows is a powerful technology that analyzes emails and LinkedIn profiles to draw conclusions about the type of person you’re talking to. It offers suggestions like, “Cathy is very sociable and chatty,” (so you know to ask about how her weekend was) or, “Rick prefers planning and goal-oriented conversation,” (so you know to be straight and to the point).
A fun thing to do after you get your work done? Check out how Crystal Knows evaluates your personality! I’ve found it’s different for each of my email accounts because I use a different tone in each (personal, work, side hustle). How crazy is that?!
Among the easiest ways to get distracted are the series of ‘pings’ as emails flood into our inbox, or Aunt Sally sharing her 452nd article on Corgis to your Facebook timeline. Save it for later. Andrew Frawley shared the magic of Chrome extensions Inbox When Ready and Facebook Eradicator, which are similar softwares; they both pause notifications so you can get into the zone without any distractions. Not only do distractions take away from the time you’d spend on your to-do list, but they make it harder to get back into the zone after you read the next email. We get more done when we focus on one task at a time and give our all to it. In fact, Inbox When Ready claims that you’ll get back one hour per week with its software.
5. Win the Day
Win the Day is a Google Chrome Extension recommended by Manoj Soundarajan that allows you to stay goal oriented, get a sense for the upcoming week, and even go into ‘focus mode’ to double down on your minimizing of distractions. It’s an all-encompassing technology that has helped me train myself to segment my day into my goals and get more done – and, surprisingly, drink more water! (It tracks all daily habits.)
Invest in yourself and add these extensions and technologies today, so that tomorrow you’ll feel refreshed by the promise of productivity that awaits. Simply feeling calmer and more in control of your agenda can make all the difference. So go get into your headspace to win the day – you’ve got this! Thanks to the Next Gen members who shared their trade secrets with us – our productivity thanks you!