Productivity Tools and Tricks: 7 Tips and Tools to Help You Stay Productive

Working online gives you the luxury of setting your work time-frame and the unbridled opportunity to take on as many gigs or client work at once. You can work within the freedom of your home and even in you pajamas, but one thing have always battled work-from-home professionals. That is the distraction that comes from being able to do many things without restriction, such as checking you emails over and over again, reading online news and commentaries and getting distracted by every possible thing.


<image credit> Hubspot

Studies find that online distractions costs businesses in excess of $10,000 annually, and of all the 6 elements contributing to our online distraction and productivity drain, email takes the lead at 23% while the least cause for distraction happens to be Web search at just 3%.

This is why I am doing a very simple list of tools and tricks that you can quickly implement to tone down the distraction level you face while working online. Read on to know how these tools and tricks can help your productivity and how you can implement them.

#1.) Tools: Alexa Toolbar (For Firefox) Enable Gmail Icon

I use the Alexa toolbar when I’m working on Firefox. I’ve found that this tool alone accounts for over 10% of my productivity during work period. For others the reverse may be the case, but the main feature you should focus on in order to combat productivity drain when it comes to email distraction is the tiny “Gmail Icon.”

productivity tool- alexa toolbar

The Gmail Icon has a feature that let’s you see when a new email comes in and who the sender is. Why is this tool a productivity enhancer and not a source of distraction, you may ask? The point is, the tool helps you fight the urge to switch tabs unnecessarily, which is the main reason a lot of people working online get distracted and lose focus easily.

icon rolls

With the Gmail Icon found in the Alexa toolbar, you don’t need to visit your inbox unnecessarily again. The added benefit is that the icon itself rolls once you get a new email. This prevents you from unconsciously going to check your email 37 times within an hour.

#2.) Tools: Enable Unread Message Icon

Just in case the tip and trick above is not your cut, you can use the Gmail feature that allows you to know, without leaving your current tab, whether you have a new email or not. The “Unread message icon” is a feature you can access by going to the settings option in Gmail, which can be located in the top right gear icon in your Gmail inbox. Go to the “Labs” tab and scroll till you find the “Unread message icon”.

productivity, distraction, online

Unread Message Icon






The benefit of this feature is that you’re able to know when a new message is received. Once enabled, your previous unread email count is shown and the number increases by the count of how many new message you get. Unlike the Alexa toolbar Gmail icon, the “unread message icon” only counts messages in the “Primary” tab, so those annoying newsletters won’t keep bugging while you’re doing important things online.

#3.) Tools: Use Dual Screen Workstation

dual screenWhen working from a single screen, either from a laptop or a desktop computer, switching from one application to the other can cause a lot of productivity drain.

Bamidele Onibalusi from WritersinCharge, a site that helps freelance writers take control of their freelance career says: “Using a dual monitor setup is one of the best decisions I’ve made to help me be more productive. I wouldn’t have imagined being able to research and write at the same time; this helps a lot to avoid distractions. Now, I simply can’t do without my dual monitor setup.”

With a dual screen setup, you can do several tasks at the same time without losing focus of your main goal. For instance, if you’re writing your book and would like to do some research, you can just mouse over to the second screen without closing or minimizing the tab you’re writing on.

#4.) Tips: Take on One Task at Once

Do you do all your tasks at once or focus on them one after the other? Choosing to complete your work all at once can put a drag on your productivity. When you’re bombarded with so many tasks to complete you can be tempted to rush them all at once, but the trick is to tackle them one by one.

Taking on many tasks at once can lead to tardiness that finally causes unlimited procrastination. And once procrastination sets in, your productivity can run dry quickly.

On the other hand, when you take on your work piece by piece, the outcome is a smooth work process that ends with a satisfying result. But when you’re hustling to complete, say four tasks at a time, you’ll end up missing important details and produce a result that is less than impressive.

#5.) Tips: Always Do the Easier Task First

Just like you’ll be advised to do during an exam, take on the simplest of your tasks and work on solving it. Do this process while you move to solve the tougher ones. Not only will you complete your work faster with this method, you’re also going to be more productive as the motivation of having accomplished one task will encourage you to complete the others with ease.

It’s like the feeling you have when playing your favorite game. The moment you win a stage, you take on the next stage with even more zeal and drive than you did in the earlier stage.

I find that this method works most when you have different tasks to complete.

#6.) Tips: Avoid Comparing Your Work to that of Your Model

A lot of entrepreneurs are always caught in the habit of comparing their work to that of their career models. While this may be done with a modest intention, the outcome is not usually good.

The excitement that is supposed to motivate you to complete a task will usually rob off once the reality that you are not as perfect as your career model sets in.

To be completely safe from this trap, avoid visiting your hero’s work while you’re still on yours. You may unintentionally end up making comparisons.

#7.) Tips: Stay off Social Media

 In a study that was used to determine how email and social media account for distraction and lack of productivity, it was found that Facebook and other social media accounts for 9% cause of digital distractions. This goes to prove that working while your Facebook newsfeed is updating in front of you can kill your productivity.

If you’re not capable of resisting the drive to go to Facebook when you’re about to work, why don’t you just block it temporarily instead. By preventing Facebook and other social media sites that can hamper your productivity at work from loading on your browser, not only will you see your productivity level increase, you will be able to complete your several tasks on time.

Are there other tips that you think can help in overcoming distraction and help stay productive while at work? You can share them with us in the comment section. Don’t forget to share this post with your friends that you would like to help.

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