The key to productivity is planning and focus; to do one successfully you must also do the other.

I’d like to share a presentation I gave last week representing CauseLabs at the Tech4Good meetup in Denver, Colorado.

Download the Presentation Slides: Getting Organized

If tools were all we needed to be more productive, we’d be productive all the time. The reality is, while there is an app for just about everything, the tool is only as good as its operator.

First, determine which tools to choose. Base this decision on what you need to accomplish and how you hope to accomplish it. If you need a finance management tool, then review a few that excel in this department. Once you narrow down your selection, choose a tool that works with your daily flow. If you’re in front of your laptop all day long, then choose a web based tool. However, if you are often on the go, then choose a tool that works well on your mobile devices.

I’ve listed a few tools in my presentation and noted their low or free non-profit costs. All of these tools are mobile friendly, though some are more robust than others.

Second, simplify and streamline your efforts. As much as possible, choose fewer tools. If you can use 1 app to do multiple things successfully, you will be more likely to use this tool. If you have to constantly switch between apps, your day is fragmented and you start to lose productivity.

Don’t get addicted to being busy.

Another reason to simplify is to reduce chaos and the barrage of incoming information. Despite our best laid plans, change has to become an acceptable and expected factor. Good intentions are not enough. I am a planner and project manager at my core. It is very easy to get trapped in planning especially when things keep shifting. Step up, take action and realize that despite all your planning, there are always external factors. We can try to plan for those, but what we need to do is adapt. We need to learn how to cope with change. Don’t let it get you frazzled, don’t let the chaos run your day, and don’t get addicted to being busy. Busy is the opposite of productive. Busy work can lead to very little or no return.

Good intentions are not enough.

Finally, focus on the results, not just the activity. Audit your day. Though you were very busy today, evaluate what you may have actually accomplished. If you didn’t accomplish much, then change your work and focus on the things that achieve results.

There are tools that can also help you run these reports. Salesforce and JIRA (listed in my presentation) both have options for tracking both activity and results. Just keep in mind that Quality is just as important as Quantity. Find a tool that helps get the work done, but also tracks these metrics so you can find ways to optimize your processes and become more productive.

“Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort.” Paul J. Meyer

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