Our recent post on the perils of information overload reminded us how difficult it can be to stay focused and productive throughout the day. From inefficient meetings to endless distractions online, employees are up against it.
Luckily, there’s no shortage of tools to help you combat all these adversaries to productivity.
Here are five productivity tools to keep your team on track.
To combat time wasting
We all lose track of time online. One minute you’re researching a marketing concept, the next minute you’ve been learning about Jethro Tull on Wikipedia for 45 minutes. One option is to block certain sites from your employees’ computers. Another option is to gently show them how much time their wasting, and let them adjust their behaviour on their own.
RescueTime runs in the background, and then provides a report of your daily online habits, showing your team members how much time they spend on various applications and websites throughout the day. It can also block distracting sites, alert users when they’ve spent a certain amount of time on an application, and log accomplishments.
The price: Free for limited features, $9 per month per user for full access
To keep their inbox at bay
Equal parts technological marvel and time burglar, email is definitely a necessary evil. But Hiver is looking to make it more and more functional. The Gmail extension offers a bevy of features to help your team collaborate and be more efficient with their communication. Manage shared email accounts and labels, write notes on emails and share drafts, create templates, schedule messages for later, and much more.
“These features are sure to help small business owners manage their inboxes in more effective manner,” says Niraj Ranjan, co-founder and CEO of Hiver.
The price: Free for up to three users with limited features, larger plans start at $12 USD per user, per month.
How often have you seen your team go into a meeting room, make a game plan, and then walk out and forget it within five minutes? Meetin.gs lets you put all your meeting minutes – as well as the agenda, related files, attendees, and all other key details – on one centralized, mobile-friendly site.
You can also use it to schedule meetings and make updates to keep everything organized. Added bonus: it integrates seamlessly with your calendar and contacts.
The price: $12 per month, per organizer
To encourage (short) breaks
Breaks can help to recharge the brain and improve creativity. Of course, you’d ideally be getting your team up from their desks for a walk or a drink of water, but baby steps might be required. Take a Five is a good start: you simply pre-select an amount of time, then start goofing off online. When the time is up, the browser tab “self-destructs” – reminding the user to get back to work.
“Studies have shown that taking periodic breaks during tasks can help you stay productive and accomplish goals. But the internet is a distracting place,” explains the company. “We made Take a Five so you don’t get stuck in that break for the next hour.”
The price: free
To make monitoring easier
In a small business, the list of things to monitor can seem somewhat endless. Social media, sales stats, website traffic, email analytics…the list goes on and on. Cyfe offers a simple solution to help streamline the monitoring process: an all-in-one dashboard with over 70 pre-built widgets covering off everything from Google Analytics to FreshBooks.
The dashboard creates real-time sharable reports, saves historical data, measures against benchmarks, and can even send alerts via email or SMS.
The price: Free for limited features, $19 per month for full access