Productivity Hacks: Time Management Special

How’re those New Years resolutions holding up?

Forgive yourself if you’ve bailed on them. On average, almost 80% of resolutions don’t last until February anyway.

The most common ones – eating better, quitting bad habits, exercising more – are all about reclaiming, or at least making the most of, the increasingly limited time we have on planet Earth.

Which is essentially what our Productivity Hacks series is all about.

So without further ado, here are the best apps and programs to maximise your time in 2019.

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Pocket

First up, free yourself from distraction.

You can be armed to the teeth with productivity apps and still find yourself frittering hours of the day away. One reason for that’s getting sucked down the rabbit hole of internet intrigue.

So Pocket’s a bookmarking service that allows you to hang onto interesting content you come across when you should be working. And to keep it all in one place to look back on later.

“Save articles, videos and stories from any publication, page or app”.

See something interesting. Save it for your next break. Avoid the rabbit hole.

Every app in this article’s free. And you can sign up for Pocket on their website. Or download from the App and Play stores.

Pocket Premium’s either $5 a month or $45 a year. And for that, you get permanent lists, advanced searches and an ad-free experience.

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Droptask

Droptask’s a project management tool that works by dragging and (as the name would suggest) dropping tasks into your workflow.

Projects are given either ’now’, ’next’ or ’soon’ status to indicate their urgency.

These can be changed at any time to reflect an evolving workload. Particularly in ‘canvas view’: a highly visual interface of colourful bubbles that closely resembles an organised brainstorm.

It’s a user-friendly way of seeing all the moving parts of your business in one place.

Useful when you’re juggling multiple competing priorities. Like a couple of meaty searches. Or a complex BD strategy.

The basic features are free. Allowing you and a team member to work on two projects simultaneously.

Pricing’s slightly heftier than some of the other programs featured here, although it’s better value the more team members are involved. And upgrading to a business account gives you unlimited projects, team members, and file attachments.

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Todoist

Add a task. Pop it in a category. Assign it to a team mate if you need to.

Todoist is your smart, new to do list.

Natural language processing understands phrases like “by next Friday” so you can set priorities, due dates and goals without having to tinker with too many settings.

And as you tick off tasks, you’ll see the progress you’re making visualised in colourful graphs. Which means sticking to resolutions is that little bit easier.

One of the main benefits of using a good to-do app is that it combats the feeling of being overwhelmed. Like when you’ve got a tonne of stuff to do, and you just know you’ve forgotten something important…

Todoist claims to eliminate that worry. Because “everything’s 100% organised and accounted for”.

It’s free on iOS and Android. And premium functionality unlocks at £36 a year.

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Remember The Milk

A reminders app for iOS, Android and web.

More than 6 million people use it to set alerts for things they need to remember. It takes input from Alexa and Siri, and it’s handy to have everything on one platform instead of scattered across several.

Set reminders to check in on passive candidates, stay on the radar of target clients, and schedule follow ups with everyone you’ve got in process.

If your resolution’s to stop forgetting stuff, try it out on their website: it’s free. 

Although if you’re particularly keen, you can shell out $40 a year to sync with Outlook and the Apple Watch app, among a host of other features.

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Toggl 

If you’ve prioritised your tasks, knocked up a to do list and set up any reminders you need, next you might want a way to track your activity.

Toggl’s mostly used by creative types, developers, and freelancers. Essentially, anyone who needs to account for their time at any given moment.

Push a button. Start a timer. And a timesheet’s automatically filled in.

So for recruiters working from a day plan, it’s a useful tool to quantify what you’re doing throughout the day.

Have you ever stacked your schedule with tonnes of thirty minute tasks only to reach 6pm having accomplished precisely nothing?

Me neither! But if it ever does happen, you can see where things went wrong by exporting your daily data to a spreadsheet. And take advantage of the built-in pomodoro timer to power through the tough stretches.

There’s a Chrome extension, a desktop program, and mobile apps for iPhone and Android devices. And the free plan’s available for up to 5 team members.

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Zapier

Automation. When it comes to saving time, you don’t get much better than eliminating repetitive tasks from your workload entirely – while still making sure they get done.

Zapier connects to “1,000+ apps like Gmail, Basecamp, HubSpot, Evernote, Google Sheets, Typeform, and more”.

You don’t need any coding experience to automate administrative tasks. Simply program your workflow with a couple of clicks.

Like automatically saving email attachments to Dropbox. And then notifying you via Slack message.

You’ll save five, maybe ten seconds each time. Whoop de doo.

But add that up over a full day, and explore the extensive cross-platform functionality it offers, and you could end up saving some serious time overall.

The most basic version of Zapier’s free. Then you’ve got the option of a 14 day trial before committing to one of three pricing plans.

Try experimenting with a couple of apps to see if automating tasks is going to pay for itself.

Voice

I’m going to make a bold prediction and suggest that 2019’s the year that voice-enabled technology comes into it’s own. In a much more mainstream way than we’re already used to.

So on the subject of automation, one recruitment practice that’s ripe for disruption is the turgid task of transcribing notes.

There are plenty of paid programs that do this already. Although most devices come with a perfectly good dictation function built in:

Macs, iPhones and iPads have Apple Dictation. ‘Voice Typing’ is a feature available with Google Docs on Chrome. And Windows 10 Speech Recognition works alongside Cortana on your PC.

You can also check out websites like Speechnotes and Dictation, which simply require access to a microphone. Take advantage of programs like this to capture minutes at meetings or interviews with candidates.

All without physically typing a word.

And if you’re looking for software that transcribes your phone calls for you, have a look at Otter – a program we featured in an article asking Should Recruiters Use Robots?

(Yes. Yes they should).

That’s it.

See you at the bar in February.