Every now and then a book, movie, or TV show comes along that appears to perfectly encapsulate the zeitgeist of an era. For instance, Saturday Night Fever starring John Travolta seemed to capture the mood of the late 70s perfectly. The TV show 24 also was a pretty good embodiment of our post 9/11 world and feelings.
So, maybe it is no surprise that the business book that seems to have most captured our collective imaginations the past few years is Tim Ferriss’ No. 1 New York Times bestseller, The 4-Hour Workweek. If you are at all like me, I bet when you heard that title you thought, “Yeah, right,” or maybe, “I wish!”
And why is that? Because these days, people seem to be working more than ever. That thin blue line between work and home grows ever more transparent. Whether it is because technology enables us to now work anywhere at anytime, or because everyone else is, it doesn't really matter. It seems that too many people are working way too hard.
The funny thing is that the flip side of that technology transformation is that there are tons of tools out there that can help you be more productive. You may not cut your workweek down to four hours, but if you use even a few of these tools correctly, you can certainly be more effective.
1. Project management software: There are all sorts of project management tools available today like Wrike, MyIntervals, 5PM, and more. Which to choose? According to PC Magazine, “Basecamp is the benchmark of free online project management suites. If your teams need to get off email and get back to work in a collaborative and well-structured environment, send them Basecamp forthwith.”
The great thing about project management software of any sort is that you can collaborate in real time using the cloud, and that should equal a much more productive office.
2. Social media coordination: Social media takes time, we all know that. Sometimes it is time well spent, but often it is not. If you find yourself updating business posts throughout the day or manually posting the same updates in different places, it is time to get some social media coordination software like HootSuite. HootSuite is a one-stop-shop where you can post all your content in one place, have them timed for posting, and not waste your time posting the same thing in different places.
3. Your telephone system: Your phone? You bet. These days a good phone system could and should act as your internal messaging system. Whether you need a virtual hosted PBX, an auto-attendant, call routing, call forwarding, or almost any other phone service you can think of, an affordable, expandable, powerful phone system is critical
4. Contact management software: Whether you use Outlook, the tools on a Mac or Google, it matters not. What matters is that your email, to do list, contacts and calendar are all unified and coordinated. Have that handled, and productivity is almost assured.
5. Keeping track: The tool that many people love when it comes to coordinating and keeping track of all of the URLs, images, data, and other online bits of information that you want to capture and keep is Evernote.
All of these killer productivity tools can help you get started down the path of managing your days and tasks better. There is a sense of satisfaction that comes from using your time well – and giving back a few hours to yourself. This era may be defined by our always-connected lifestyles, but you have control over yours. Take back your workweek.