Productivity Hacks – the Simply Smart way

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I’m on a mission people.  A mission to declutter my business, get in the productivity mindset and simplify how I do everything. I’ve been craving systems, hacks, tools and tech to free me up for important stuff.

During the course of my explorations, I’ve rounded up a few ideas (and lovely apps) that could really help you to streamline your business, and make more time to focus on what really matters – whether that’s more time with the kids, or launching your next big thing.

Email management

I’ve talked about the quest for inbox zero before – and yes, it’s still a daily battle! Jo Gifford, Queen of whip-smart workflows, has a really great post all about whittling down the amount of time you have to spend in your inbox. Check it out here.

Another helpful hack is to set up a “support” email. A filter email, if you will. The address you have on your business cards, on your website, etc. The one you get your VA to sort through, before they send on the things you actually need to see.

Email filing is another rabbit hole of procrastination, largely because nobody seems to have any faith in the search function! Graham Allcott, author of How to be a Productivity Ninja, recommends creating only 4 folders:

Action: anything that requires a specific action from you, that will take longer than two minutes. Two minute tasks should just be done straight away.

Read: anything that you would like to read, but won’t need any follow-up.

Waiting: anything that you may need to action in the future, but for now you’re waiting on someone else. You can skim through this folder once or twice a week, just in case there’s anything you need to chase up.

Archive: anything that’s already been dealt with or is purely informational, that you may have to reference in the future. No sub-folders allowed, except perhaps “finance”.


Gone are the days when invoices have to be typed up, mailed out, and chased up by little old you. I love Xero for my online accounting – it’s simple to use, I can automate invoices AND follow ups, and there’s unlimited email support (perfect for if you’re doing it all yourself). I also love that I can access if from my iPhone, and update things on the go.

Wave is a great free alternative, if you’re just starting out, and aren’t sure quite what you need yet.


Calendly saved my life. There’s no more to-ing and fro-ing with clients, it takes them no more than a click to book a slot that suits us both.

It’s free, it’s pretty, it syncs with your Google calendar… what more could you ask for?

Project Management

There are a range of fab tools for project management – Asana, Wrike, Zoho… but my personal favourite is Trello.

In fact, a couple of weeks ago I shared a little video, showing exactly how I use Trello to coordinate my day-to-day tasks, keep track of my big ideas and run my team… with minimal effort! (You can check that out right here)


My top tip for “just getting on with it” is the embracing the Pomodoro technique. The idea is that you chunk up your day into 30 minute slots. Pick an action, set a timer for 25 minutes, then get to work. Once your timer goes off, you have a five minute break to make a cuppa, read a chapter, or chat to a friend.

As a social media consultant, I’m no stranger to falling into a pit of procrastination on Facebook and Twitter. It’s so easy to spend hours and hours scrolling through feeds and clicking on interesting links, but let’s be realistic. It’s not helping you get anywhere, is it?

Consider installing Cold Turkey, to block distracting websites and apps while you work – the Self Control app is another great option, but it’s only compatible with Apple products.

Ideas and Inspiration

Evernote is a fantastic way to store all the yummy stuff you come across that you may want to reference later. By installing the Web clipper, you can grab any page, at any time, and file it away for future use. It’s a great way to hoard things to share over social, or swipe inspiring design or copy examples.

As Evernote also syncs across any and every device, it’s a fab tool to use for capturing your ideas on the move. It even has it’s own voice recorder, if you’d prefer to brain dump your thoughts verbally.

Extra goodies

  • Write a comprehensive FAQ page for your website, and create an email template to drive people towards it when they’re asking you those same old questions, time after time.
  • Install the Built With browser extension to analyse the apps and plug-ins used by different websites. Trust me, it will save you a lot of Googling and email writing when you see something you like!
  • If you receive a lot of voicemails in your business, play with the VoxSciences app. It transcribes your voice messages and sends them to you, so you can quickly decide whether you want to call back or not. (Plus, no more re-listening to things to catch those last two digits)
  • Every time that you find yourself doing something that you really, really don’t enjoy, write it down. After  couple of months, you’ll have the perfect VA job description drafted and ready to go!
  • Use IFTTT to automate the things that you find yourself doing over and over – check out this article for 110 ways to make the most out of IFTTT.

There you have it, my favourite hacks for streamlining your day. How about you – what helps you embrace productivity?


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