Productivity Tools

Productivity Tools

On the Profitable Joyful Consulting podcast, I teach you how to increase your profits and enjoy your business more. In this episode, you’ll discover five productivity tools that can add hours and hours back to your week.

Because that’s really what tech and tools are about in your business — not about using whatever the shiny new thing is — but about freeing up your time so you can focus on what really brings you joy (within your business and outside of it).

Key areas discussed in this episode

  • 0:38 My favorite tool for giving client feedback and communicating with my team
  • 3:37 The best way to stay focused when you’re working on social media
  • 5:27 A simple tracker for creating or breaking habits
  • 8:38 The efficient way to watch work or training videos
  • 10:42 An essential email app that will save you hours a week

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Podcast Transcript

Hey, it’s Samantha Hartley of the Profitable Joyful Consulting Podcast. This season we have been talking about performance and consulting business success metrics. Today, I want to talk to you about five productivity tools that I think can add hours to your week. 

No exaggeration—hours and hours. These tools save me that much time and that’s why I’m such an advocate for them. So I’m going to share five of them. Some are paid, some are free. I’m just telling you, these are the things that I want you to go and get. 

The first thing that’s up is Loom. If anybody ever asks me what is the most essential time saving tool in my business, I will always say it’s Loom. 

I know that they have competitors now, but Loom is a screen recording software that can record you in a little bubble at the bottom of the screen or it can record you on the screen. Mostly it’s screen sharing software where you go through something that’s on your screen and talk about it for the recipient of your video. 

This is a way that I explain things to my team. My team is 100% remote—they’re all over the world. For example, if you are describing changes to a website or a graphic design, you want to be able to show a picture of what you mean and go through it without having to write in words what your feedback is. 

The first time I started using screen share tools was to give feedback like this. That was a long time ago, and when you saved those files, they were super big, and you had to then upload them somewhere where you could send a link for somebody to go and watch them or heaven forbid, have to send the file to them. 

Well times have changed and Loom makes it where you can record the screenshot. It’s immediately saved to your control board, which means you just paste in an email, or in the note that you’re sending whether that be in Slack, chat, or whatever you’re using with your team or your clients. 

Loom is an incredible time saving tool. What I want you to begin to do is get Loom for yourself, I think it’s like $100 bucks a year for the paid version. Then whenever you’re giving feedback to your clients, especially. People love to get an instructional video going through their things that you’ve sent them.

Let’s say it’s something they’ve written for feedback or it’s a design that they’ve made, or whatever your client is asking you about, some kind of work that they’ve done that they want to get your feedback on. 

You can go through and make a Loom in a short amount of time without having to add comments to a document. There are plenty of things which are very difficult to add comments to like an Excel spreadsheet and things like that. 

Loom has an online version for when you’re reviewing things online, whether that’s in G Suite like Google Sheets or a Google Doc or a website or anything that’s online. It also has a desktop version. I have used the mobile phone version of it to record instructions for my mom on how to do something in texting, or something else on her phone. 

It’s just an amazing tool and I recommend it to everyone. It’ll save you hours. I know I used to give, I’m not even kidding, like hours of feedback to my team and clients by typing. I hate typing and Loom is just an amazing time saver. So that’s the first one that I recommend. 

L-O-O-M, Google it. Obviously I put the links in the show notes. I’m not an affiliate of any of these. I really don’t care about that. It’s pennies in affiliate commissions and what I really want is to save you a ton of time.

The second tool that I wanted to talk about is NewsFeed Eradicator. It is a Chrome extension and there may be extensions for other browsers—you can check that out.

How many of us are using social media for work? We get onto whatever that platform is, whether it’s Facebook or LinkedIn or Twitter or whatever. Then suddenly you see a thing over here and then you see a message from here, and then we get distracted with everything. 

The timeline is very often the most distracting part. So I have the NewsFeed Eradicator on, especially on Facebook where I do have to do some work and when I login, I don’t see that newsfeed going by with all of the things that are appealing to me because I use Facebook for groups.

I’m in dog groups and exercise and plant groups and things like that. So when I login, I don’t immediately see things that distract me from what I came there to do, which is very often going to be to go to my Facebook group and post some things for you. 

The Facebook group is called Profitable Joyful Consultingfind us because we’d love to have you join our community. 

When you’re on Facebook, go straight to the group and don’t mess around with the newsfeed. So NewsFeed Eradicator is a huge time saving tool. You’ll save at least 2 hours a week. 

I only use it for Facebook because LinkedIn’s newsfeed really is not that distracting. It’s just not that good yet. It also works on Twitter and Instagram and other platforms. So check that out. It can definitely save you a lot of time, especially during the workday, when you’re on social media, you’re there for a work reason.

Hey, let’s get social media to play around with it after hours. Or if you’re on a break and you want to use that as a treat for yourself. But we can’t be distracted by the newsfeed during the workday. 

The third tool that I want to share with you, I’m so excited about, it’s called Don’t Break the Chain, and it’s an app that will help you to track your streak of doing a habit a certain number of days in a row. 

This is something that I’ve taught in my programs for years. A long time ago, Jerry Seinfeld shared his big secret to becoming a great writer was that he wrote every single day and he had a calendar, like a paper calendar, and he would take a big red marker and he would put an X over all of the days that he had done his writing. 

The more momentum he built up, meaning the more days in a row he had done it, the more he would see that visually on his calendar, and then it would inspire him to not break the chain. Right, don’t miss a day. So he would do it every single day. 

In his book Atomic Habits, James Clear points out how it’s not about intensity, it’s about consistency. It’s not that you sat down and you wrote or you did your intended habit for hours and hours and hours in a row. What you really want to look for is like 5 minutes a day every single day because that’s the best way to build a habit. 

The Don’t Break The Chain app, I have just recently discovered. I’ve had people doing it manually on calendars, which I think can be very gratifying. But I love that there is an app for doing this.

It’s a smart app too in that you can adjust it. I want people to track their habits, I want consultants to do our habits, but I don’t want you to do them on the weekends, and I want you to take days off. I also want you to have the sense that your chain is still going and that can be if you look at your calendar, you’re like: Well, there’s Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and then this and this. 

So the app is smart enough to recognize that there are going to be times when you’re going to be away. You can also track more than one habit if you want to for example, drink water every single day, work out or journal or whatever. 

The habit that I recommend that you track, and the reason that this is a productivity tool is building incredible habits in which you learn how to do things every day, especially work on those things that really require tracking in order to build a habit of them. 

What are we very often tracking? We’re tracking: I want to build a writing habit and be consistent about that. This is a productivity habit that is going to make your business so powerful, it’s really going to help you to grow because that consistent behavior is actually going to make you more productive. 

If you meditate for just 10 to 15 minutes a day, you’re going to see an incredible difference in your business and in your life. One of the things that I have been working on this year is this sense of feeling behind. No matter what time I get up in the morning, I always feel like I start my day behind. So I’ve added a meditating habit to my morning, even though it seems like I’m already behind, right?

I added a meditating habit to my day and suddenly that ‘being behind’ feeling went away. Now I’m feeling more productive just because I’ve added a meditation habit.

What does that do? It makes me more mindful about the activities that I do participate in during the day, so that actually helps all of my day to go better. I’m recommending a meditation habit and that you track that in the productivity app. The app is called Don’t Break the Chain. 

The next absolutely essential tool in my business is called Video Speed Controller. There’s a version of it called Facebook Video Speed Controller, and this is a Chrome extension. 

I’m not sure what browser you use or if something like this is available for you, but you have to use apps that help to speed up videos that you watch. To me it is absolutely brutal to watch a video in real time. I cannot stand watching the hours just drain away. 

So you won’t be surprised to hear when I’m on my walks and I’m listening to podcasts. I’m listening to them at a minimum of 1.5X speed and in some cases I’m doing it at two times the speed. 

A tip that I heard from my brother, who is one of the best read people I know because he listens to books, which I know a lot of snobs don’t consider reading, but I think it’s totally reading if you’re retaining what you’re reading. 

He has read tons and tons of books because he’s in the insurance business, so he’s constantly on the road just driving these really long distances. I’m so envious of him and all of the books that he’s read. A thing that I learned from him is that he listens to them, I forget whether it was 1.5 or two times speed, he says your ear adjusts.  

At first it sounds a lot like mouse form. Then after a while your ear adjusts so that you can really hear things at that speed.

Now, I just want to say for the record that I do not speed up my movies, my films, my cinematic experiences or my music. And there are some important poetic experiences that I want to have at an actual real time speed. I will also say that I would love to speed up some people in real life, put them on 1.5X speed, but in general, get this tool.

If you are not doing this in your business already, for goodness sake, watch your videos on higher speed because we have so much content that we have to consume right now, whether it’s a training or client videos, or whatever you’re needing to watch on video and watching it on a higher speed is going to save you hours and hours each week, and you’ll still be able to consume that content. 

The last productivity tool I want to talk about is called Superhuman. It is an email client, I’m not even sure what it’s called that sits on top of Gmail. It is a whole separate program that I open up on my computer and there I’m seeing my emails, my Gmail comes through there. If you have many Gmail accounts, like me, you get a different tab for each one of them. 

Now Superhuman, the creators of it say that they invented it so that you could get to Inbox zero. And the way that you do that is because you have a primary inbox, which is your important, and this is the place where communications that come directly to you, like anything from clients or from your team would come in here. 

You can designate who comes here and then you can have different tabs for other things. I have a whole tab for news where all of my official news comes in. You can have one for your team. So I have one that’s just emails from Basecamp, which is our project management software we use. Or anything by client. 

Then there’s everything else, the other folder. So for most of us, when we open up our email, everything is ‘other’. There’s a ton of stuff in there and it’s all mixed in between. If you can create something like Superhuman, you’re only looking at the important things first.

Not processing your email first thing in the morning is a great way to keep yourself productive. If you have something Superhuman, it’s showing you the important things first, and it’s a huge time saver in that way. 

The other thing is that, as I mentioned, I have my personal emails that come to me. I have the ones that are my newsletters sent from and I have my work email, so many different Gmail accounts.

Instead of having to login and logout of those in Gmail all the time, I can have all of those inboxes open at the same time and bounce around between them, even though there’s a few of them that I don’t even need to look at, like a customer service one. I’ll glance at it from time to time. So it’s a huge time saver in that way.

Getting to inbox zero is not really important to me, but knowing that the important emails are on the front page when I login is important to me and really saves me time from having to sift through things that come through in Gmail. 

It’s smart too, it seems to discern what’s an email that is important that needs to come to the front page. You can track sent emails. For consultants, what’s really important for us is that when you send an email to the client, or if you’re following up with potential clients, you have a ‘read receipt’ available. 

You want to know if you haven’t heard back from somebody, do I follow up with them again? If you can see a ‘read receipt’ it helps a lot. The other thing that you can see is how many times they’ve opened your email and that’s also a good sign. 

Usually when someone has opened your email up more than once, they’re thinking about it. If potential clients have opened that email up more than once, then it’s usually a good sign that they’re ruminating on this decision and they’re coming back to it over and over again. 

If you see that, you can decide whether to leave them be or follow up again. It’s very empowering, especially in a sales position, to be able to see if people have opened your emails.

Another feature that it has and I know a lot of email has this nowadays, which is a delayed send so you can process a bunch of email and then have it sent tomorrow or it can send next week. You basically tell it when to send. 

One of my favorite things about it is that I can have Superhuman remind me about emails. If I get something in my inbox today and I go, I can’t think about this today, but I want it to come back Friday. I’ll have it ‘save’ and remind me next Friday.

If I get an email from someone and it says, not right now, but follow up with me in two weeks, I can have it remind me to follow up in two weeks. Then I’ll get a reminder email. That same email will pop up in my inbox in two weeks. I know there’s other emails out there that do that, but this is all within Superhuman.

The last thing, and this is just purely esthetic and yet it’s important, it looks nice. When I look in my inbox, it’s easy on the eyes. There’s a nice font, it’s framed nicely. It just looks nicer than Gmail.

I’m a huge Gmail fan, but just the way that it looks, it’s not that great and Superhuman looks great. I highly recommend it as an incredible productivity tool for processing email and also being easy on the eyes. 

So those are five of my favorite productivity tools. I would love to hear what yours are! 

I welcome you to come to the Profitable Joyful Consulting Facebook Group on Facebook after you’ve installed NewsFeed Eradicator and share. I’ll make a post there inviting you to share, but I’d love to hear what your favorite productivity tools are. What is saving you hours and hours a week? I look forward to hearing that. 

With that, I wish you a Profitable and Joyful Consulting Business. Thanks!

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