5 Essential Productivity Tools for Creative Entrepreneurs

5 Essential Productivity Tools for Creative Entrepreneurs

I’m obsessed with productivity tools

There’s not a productivity blog post, infographic, book or app that escapes my notice. The irony of spending hours of my week reading about productivity (instead of getting on with the tasks on my to-do list) is not lost on me.

There are, of course, far worse things I could obsess over.

Furthermore, my extensive research and testing of so bloomin’ many productivity tools means I can share my findings with you.

Without further ado, here are my 5 Essential Productivity Tools for Creative Entrepreneurs (ahem… these are this week’s favourites!)

My 5 Essential Productivity Tools

Workflowy

During a FaceTime call last week I described Workflowy as my “one true love” (regarding productivity apps, just to be clear). Thankfully the chap I was FaceTiming is a fellow Workflowy user (correction, he’s Workflowy Guru, Frank Degenaar, author of the Workflowy Blog), so he didn’t think I was weird. At least I hope not.

I used Workflowy primarily as a task list. But it can do so much more.WorkFlowy is a zoomable document that provides unprecedented flexibility in organising your ideas. At least that’s what the Workflowy website says. I don’t think this definition does it justice. I’ll have a go.

Workflowy is:

  • One big list with infinite sub-lists. You can zoom in on every list and sub-list. This is particularly useful if you feel overwhelmed when faced with an enormous list. You can focus in on specific areas quickly and ignore the rest.
  • Free. Yes free. Well, freemium. But the free product will give you more than enough space and functionality. If you click on this Workflowy link, you will get double the space of a regular person (bonus).
  • Compatible with all devices. It’s cloud-based and also has mobile apps. Everything syncs together so if you make a change on your mobile device, the change is mirrored everywhere.
  • Totally customisable. It’s a blank slate. When you open Workflowy, you are faced with a bullet point. Just one. But that’s how lists start.
  • Not just for lists. I swear you can pretty much do anything with Workflowy from writing books to organising events to planning meals and grocery shopping. You can share lists with other users easily, so this adds a collaborative element to planning in Workflowy.
  • Easily searchable. Not only does it have a brilliant search function, but you can create links in your Workflowy by prepending words with “#” or “@”. You can use these to suit your needs. For example, you could tag your Workflowy entries to group them into priorities (#urgent #someday #today etc). You could use @ to indicate when you’ve delegated a task, or you are waiting for someone to come back to you on something (@john @sue @matt etc).
  • Keyboard shortcut driven for super speedy usage.

For some people, the blank-slate-ness of Workflowy might be a bit scary. Furthermore, the list above does not fully explain the potential Workflowy has.

I’ve no intention of reinventing the wheel because the aforementioned Workflowy Guru, Frank, has written an amazing book called Do Way, Way More in Workflowy. It does what it says on the tin. And it’s funny (especially if you’re a closet geek like me). This book is a fantastic read and enables you to unleash the true power of Workflowy.

The reason Workflowy is my one true love is that I keep coming back to it. I regularly “date” different list apps, but none of them ever match Workflowy in terms of flexibility and scope.

If I put a task in Workflowy, it gets done. And that’s just what I need from a list app.

Freedom

I spend a lot of my time at the computer writing. When I'm there, my biggest distraction is social media. Specifically Facebook. I don’t even like Facebook, yet I cannot seem to resist popping on for “just one minute” to see what’s going on. I swear Facebook minutes are a lot longer than real-life, human minutes.

The easiest solution to this irritating habit of mine is Freedom. Freedom blocks apps, websites or the entire Internet on iPhones, iPads, Windows and Mac computers.

It’s saved my sanity and helped my achieve tight writing deadlines, on numerous occasions.

Pocket

Pocket was founded in 2007 by Nate Weiner to help people save interesting articles, videos and more from the web for later enjoyment. Once saved to Pocket, the list of content is visible on any device. It can be viewed while waiting in line, on the sofa, during commutes or travel — even offline.

Pocket is a lifesaver for easily distracted creative entrepreneurs.

In the same way that Freedom keeps you focussed on what you are supposed to be doing, Pocket allows you to send interesting, but off-topic, stuff to a safe place to read when you’ve got time.

Reading your Pocket articles is like enjoying an online magazine created especially for you. It’s one of the highlights of my week.

Pocket is free and is available for major devices and platforms including iPad, iPhone, Android, Mac, Kindle Fire, Kobo, Google Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Opera and Windows.

Timer

I’m a Pomodoro Gal (the Pomodoro Technique) and for that, a basic timer is needed. I use my iPhone, but a simple kitchen timer would work just fine.

The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s. The technique uses a timer to break down work into intervals, traditionally 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks.

If like me, you are easily distracted, breaking tasks down into time-based chunks can be extremely useful.

The idea of a reward after every 25-minute chunk is particularly appealing. FYI: chocolate after every single Pomodoro sounds like a very good idea, but in practice, isn’t.

My Book

Clearly, I’m obsessed with all this productivity stuff. To channel my obsession, I’ve written a short ebook called The Quick and Dirty Guide to Getting Stuff Done. It would be rude of me not to make my book number 5 in my list of top productivity tools now wouldn’t it?

To explore the wonderful world of productivity further, download my free ebook by completing the form below. Thank you.