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Roundup of our best productivity tips and tools

An excited woman wearing jeans and a blue and white striped top sitting cross-legged on the floor with her laptop on her lap. Three large cogs are drawn in the image beside her.

VG Staff

December 20, 2022

If you want to be productive, you need to set yourself up with a routine, implement effective productivity tools, and seek support when you need it. These three pillars will free up your time to focus on what’s important to you and your business.

We took a look back at the resources we’ve shared previously to create this “best of” collection of tips to get you moving on a more productive path. Read on for everything from best practices for your inbox & schedule management to sourcing experienced virtual assistants to take over routine tasks.

Tips to get your routine on lock

person drinking coffee and smiling

One of the most important parts of increasing your productivity is to set a routine. With a routine in place you know exactly what’s happening each day and where you can be flexible for last minute or unexpected urgent tasks that arise. Setting up a routine requires effort but it’ll save you considerable time in the future. To begin, let’s review the key elements of an impactful routine.

Set a structure for your day

  1. Utilize scheduling tools: Scroll below for our suggested tool!
  2. Create a morning ritual: Even Martha Stewart has a morning routine to set herself up for success.
  3. Take breaks: Meditation, creativity, reading.
  4. Use to-do lists: Digital and analogue tools are both effective. Plus, sticky notes are fun.
  5. Create separation when working from home: Choose a specific place for you to work as separate from the rest of your personal space as possible.
  6. Adjust as needed: You and your business are constantly changing, and your routines will have to change with you.

Read our full article on best practices for structuring your day here: Fall back into a productive routine.

Do a digital workspace “every season” clean

image of woman working on google calendars

Don’t wait until Spring or Fall to organize your digital workspace. It doesn’t take long for files to pile into disarray, which results in wasted time searching for what you need.

  1. Inbox clean-up
  2. Find the bottom of your download folder
  3. Cancel accounts and uninstall apps
  4. Get a password manager
  5. Take your pick; there’s always something to clean

Read our full article on organizing your digital workspace: Spring cleaning tips for your digital workspace.

Inbox & schedule management like a pro

Let me guess – you’ve got 189 unread emails sitting in your inbox as you read this article? The more your inbox fills up; the more your anxiety rises and procrastination begins to set in. We all know that procrastination is where productivity goes to die, so be PROactive and create an inbox & schedule management system before procrastination takes hold.

  1. Set Goals: Consider what you want to see when you open your email. To-do and completed task labels? Automatic archiving? Never see a spam email again?
  2. Prioritization: When sorting through your inbox there are various methods you can implement such as a basic quadrant breakdown (Urgent vs Tomorrow’s Problems and Action Required vs For Review).
  3. Refine your systems: After implementing a system you’ll begin testing and iterating for effectiveness.
  4. Building systems and relationships at the same time: If you have a full-time or fractional assistant, working towards a common goal for inbox zero can foster a shared sense of accomplishment and a great working relationship.

Read our full article on inbox & schedule management here: Creating an executive email management system.

Time management with the timeboxing method

We promise you don’t need boxing gloves for this step! Timeboxing, simply put, is a fixed period of time you allocate for a planned activity. It sounds simple, but there’s an art to perfecting time management with the timeboxing method. The 7 steps listed below are a good starting place, just remember that consistency is key!

7-step process for Timeboxing your week

  1. Take out a calendar that gives you an overview of the week. You can use paper, a planner, whatever you prefer.
  2. Carve out your work time, your “office hours.”
  3. Schedule your breaks and self-care time.
  4. Look at your responsibilities. These may include clients, projects, meetings, etc.
  5. Establish how many hours you can work this week.
  6. Divide your client load into the hours from #5, and allow for some wiggle room. Be sure to have time blocks to go through your inbox, and send out any necessary communications.
  7. Schedule an “overflow day,” but do not rely on it. Be sure to use this time to catch up. On your overflow day, it’s like you are out of the office – no new work and no meetings.

Read our full article on time management here: Can timeboxing increase productivity?

Top tools for efficiency

Digital tools are fantastic for increasing productivity, but only when you stick to the essentials. Avoid ‘app fatigue’ by limiting the amount of tools you use on a daily basis. We’ve made it easy with a list of our top paid tools and top free tools designed for busy executives and their staff.

Paid tools

  • Slack
  • Calendly
  • Trello
  • Hootsuite
  • Canva
  • Keeper
  • Evernote

Read our full article on paid productivity tools here: 7 productivity apps to level up your game.

Free tools

  • Wave
  • Hootsuite
  • Mailchimp
  • Planoly
  • Grammarly App
  • Zoho CRM
  • Square

Read our full article on free productivity tools here: 7 free tools to help you grow your small business.

Bonus free tool: Loom, Lately, our team had been loving how quick and easy it is to create quick videos to explain concepts or provide updates to others. Loom lets you record your screen and a video of yourself talking at the same time. Most of the time, it’s far more time-efficient than a meeting. Plus you can use the recording over and over again!

Delegate, delegate, delegate

people in a meeting

As much as you may want to do everything yourself because you know how to do it best; you shouldn’t. Wasting time completing tasks which don’t drive your business forward is a common error many leaders and executives make. Experienced virtual assistants are adaptive and quick to learn your business needs and your personal working style so they can hit the ground running. Trust the delegation process and let go! Here’s some quick delegation tactics to help you determine what can be delegated and what can’t.

Delegate in 3 easy steps (A-B-C)

  • A – Analyze your workload: EISENHOWER MATRIX
  • B – Break larger projects into smaller tasks
  • C – Communicate & collaborate

Read our full article on delegation here: If you want something done – delegate.

‍The 5 Fs of Productivity

Now that you understand the basics of productivity, it’s time to take it to the next level with our free eBook. Learn how to create a custom productivity routine for yourself, identify and eliminate your productivity killers, and gain strategies to fight distractions that plague your day.

Click here to become a master of your productivity.

VG Staff

We connect you with the right talent so you can delegate and save time, confident your projects are in capable hands. Our remote team of skilled Virtual Assistants does it all, from bookkeeping and marketing to data entry and administrative support.

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