We all have those tough days at work where try as we might, we can’t seem to check one item off our to-do list. All too often, it’s the seemingly straightforward work tasks that end up being the most time consuming. Endless email chains, file sharing or project collaboration snafus, a company or client website that fails to load … before we know it, one small task has eaten up our entire afternoon.
Productivity is the result of intelligent planning. It’s part organization, part prioritization, and — most importantly — the elimination of repetitive or time-consuming tasks through fast, simple and affordable solutions. This year, resolve to eliminate unnecessary friction from daily tasks to boost productivity. Here are four common productivity fails and four simple, affordable (or free!) solutions.
Productivity Fail: Team Collaboration and File Sharing
Ever tried to share a file with a colleague but emailed an outdated version? Even DropBox and Google docs aren’t immune from the occasional file sharing snafu. Team productivity plummets when your coworkers can’t access your latest file changes or everyone’s working off the wrong version. From Basecamp to Redbooth, there are a ton of great project management and collaboration tools available at a low-cost. One of my new favorites is Slack. Slack brings all team communication into one place with real-time messaging, archiving and search features. File sharing is seamless within the app, which allows you to use services like Google Drive, Dropbox or Box for immediate sync and search.
Productivity Fail: Custom PDFs
Solution: Ice Cream PDF Split and Merge
This common work problem (customizing or editing PDFs) is the sort of the thing most of us don’t think about until it’s gone from a minor inconvenience to an urgent need. Usually, PDFs cannot be edited with the full version of Adobe Acrobat DC. So when a business partner sends you a PDF with extra pages or the wrong order — and you need to quickly add this to your business’s existing client proposal that due by COB — you can’t make changes without owning Adobe’s desktop or monthly subscription service. There are a handful of low-cost third-party PDF editors available online, but Icecream PDF Split and Merge is hands-down my favorite. Combine multiple files into one, get rid of certain pages, split existing files, and edit page sequence quickly with this easy-to-use tool.
Productivity Fail: Too Many Website Domains, No Centralized Host
Solution: Consolidate into a Single Host.
Like creating custom PDFs, this is the sort of productivity issue most of us don’t think about until it’s a major problem. Using multiple hosting sites can get pretty expensive, not to mention confusing if a site you manage is down. Which provider are you supposed to call? Consolidate all your domains into a single, centralized host. I’ve long been a fan of HostGator, thanks in part to its excellent customer service and affordable managed WordPress hosting. For our friends across the pond, UK Smart Hosting is emerging as a crowd favorite, thanks to its no contracts or set-up fees, 24/7 dedicated support, and no limits cPanel hosting.
Productivity Fail: Time-Consuming Time Tracking
When juggling multiple projects in one afternoon, prioritizing time is key. It’s all too easy, however, to end up spending hours on a lower priority client and then end up rushing on the big stuff. That’s why I like Toggl for time tracking and better managing self-imposed deadlines. Even if you don’t need to track billable hours, tracking how much time you spend on a specific client can help you better understand where your productive hours go in a given day. Thanks to Toggl’s one-click time tracking, you never lose a minute of trackable time. Even if you forget to switch on the program, simply enter your hours after the fact. Plus, you can easily organize by projects or tags and add different values to billable hours. For clients that do require billable hours, the transparent reports are a huge plus.
Productivity at work is about more than just shutting off Facebook or taking an email break. Eliminating the little tasks that drain your energy can free up untold hours in your day, not to mention improve client satisfaction and team productivity.