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Businesswoman at an office desk with six arms to represent productivity. She holds papers, a phone, a landline phone and laptop in her many hands.

As a small business owner, employee, freelancer or solopreneur, you know that productivity is key to your success. At Solvaa we are big on productivity and love to increase efficiency using automation wherever possible.  But with ever-changing technology and ever-growing to-do lists, staying productive can be a challenge. In this blog post, we’ll share the best productivity tips for 2022.  These hacks were all recommended by people who have something in common – a desire to make the most of their valuable time and be as productive as possible.

Our tips have been tried and tested and found to be effective. So, whether you’re looking for ways to boost your efficiency or simply want to make the most of your time, read on for some great advice!

Productivity Tip 1 – Use A Sand Timer

Crystal Schwanke runs the That Old Kitchen Table blog and uses a 30-minute sand timer to timebox her day.   She uses it for a slightly different version of the Pomodoro technique, with 30 minute blocks of time rather than 25 minutes, and finds that it’s really effective.

She uses the sand timer instead of a timer on her phone or computer screen when she really needs to focus on something.  This is because it can stand on her desk and let her family know she’s in the middle of a writing sprint and shouldn’t be interrupted. They also get a rough idea of how long it’ll be until she’s available.

Crystal’s office doesn’t have doors she can close when she needs to concentrate but the timer helps keep interruptions to a minimum. She sometimes takes it a step further with a pair of noise-cancelling headphones and a playlist that helps her get in the zone for writing.

Here is an example of the sand timer that Crystal uses for maximum productivity.

Productivity Tip 2 – Use A Calendar App

Ravi Dava is CEO of Rockstar Marketing and believes that using Calendly is a game-changer.  He has been using it for years and can’t imagine where he’d be without it. 

Ravi has a link to Calendly on the company website which means if anyone is interested in having a discussion about the Rockstar Marketing services, they can book a call at a time that suits them.  There’s no going back and forth over emails trying to arrange a time which is convenient for both parties. 

But what Ravi loves even more is that Calendly has an integration with Zoom so every time someone books a call the Zoom meeting is set up automatically, and both receive a Zoom link by email.  Calendly also sends reminders to the caller, so the chance of them not showing up is low.

You can do a lot with Calendly’s free version, and also integrate it with Zapier to do even more.

Productivity Tip 3 – Automate Your Social Media

Emma Jackson runs the award-winning BeeMoneySavvy website and saves lots of time using automation.  She recommends automating social media communications using scheduling tools such as Hootsuite or Buffer.   These allow you to write a series of posts and then schedule them to go out over a few days or weeks.

Emma uses automation to help manage her finances better too, for example setting up direct debits to move money into a savings account or pay bills.  She uses a variety of online tools to automate many different aspects of her life, all to save time.

Here are links to Hootsuite and Buffer to find out more.  Buffer has a free starting plan which is ideal for individuals and businesses getting started with social media.  You can take automation to the next level by using pre-built Zapier integrations with Hootsuite and Buffer too, to supercharge productivity even further.

Productivity Tip 4 – Use Email Templates

Lawrie Jones, of Stronger Bones saves huge amounts of times by creating email templates which are stored centrally in Google Docs.  They are checked with Grammarly automatically which means that anyone can send polite and professional emails in seconds. 

Using the templates protects the brand and keeps everything on point. 

Solvaa’s Chief Problem Solver, Kelly Goss, is also a fan of email templates.  Kelly says “If you use a CRM like Pipedrive or Hubspot then you can add email templates directly into the system and use them if you have your email connected.  Multiple users in your team can access the same templates, saving even more time and increasing team productivity too.”

It’s definitely worth taking some time to review all your regular emails to compose templates which can then speed things up in the future.

Productivity Tip 5 – Use A Task Management App

Rob Williams is a director at clothing manufacturer Hawthorn International where they have a factory production line with a strict schedule.  Rob has found that online task and project management tools are essential for keeping the factory running smoothly.

With over 20 orders being made at any one time, across four production lines, using Asana he can delegate tasks to the relevant person or team.  Asana provides a schedule of tasks for the day and helps bring together all production sectors.

Coordinating pattern developers, fashion designers, the fabric mill, as well as the quality checking, steaming and pressing teams would be a minefield if it wasn’t for having an online system which allows Rob’s team to delegate, manage and view in real-time all of the various areas of production.

Asana has a great free version and it integrates really well with Zapier to boost productivity even more.

 

Womans hands using a laptop with graphic images of emails appearing to fly out of the keyboard, to represent managing emails automatically.

Productivity Tip 6 – Create Email Filter Rules

Stefana Gloginic runs the Byte Sized Pieces blog and is a fan of creating automatic email filters and rules.   You can do this in most email platforms, including Microsoft Outlook and Gmail.

Filters allow you to label an email, archive or even delete one automatically.  You can set up a rule to forward certain emails or flag them – there are so many possibilities which will really keep your inbox under control.

You can take this one step further by using automation, and tools like Zapier have developed pre-built integrations for Outlook and Gmail.  Examples include automatically saving attachments in Dropbox or Google Drive, or sending a Slack channel message when a particular kind of email is received.

Productivity Tip 7 – Time Management For Uploading YouTube Videos

Joanne Wilson is a successful YouTuber with her nail art channel and spends a lot of time filming and editing videos.  She has a great process for uploading them, because it can take quite a long time when her internet connectivity isn’t perfect, especially for longer videos.

What Jo does is to initially upload videos with the minimum information, not even a proper title.  Then while it’s uploading, she creates the thumbnail image, pads out the information for the video and selects the ad placements.  It doesn’t slow down the upload and makes this part of the process as streamlined as possible.

Productivity Tip 8 – Use Text Expanders

 

Kelly Goss loves text expanders like textexpander.com.   This takes email templates to a whole new level as you don’t have to copy the template into the email.  You simply key an abbreviation into any app and the full text will appear like magic.

Text Expander learns what text or phrases you type frequently and makes suggestions for creating snippets for them, using easy-to-remember abbreviations.  It also works across devices, on desktop and mobile, in a chat window or any other type of app.

Kelly also uses snippets in her CRM and loves the auto-fill feature in Gmail where she will start typing and the sentence is completed for her.

Productivity Tip 9 – Make Time For Self Care

Emma Jarman at Meditopia uses meditation and journaling to reduce overwhelm and allow her to focus on the day’s tasks.  Emma looks at her tasks and creates a list, with each one given a priority.  She reviews them to see if they are connected or whether there are dependencies and organises them accordingly.

As some tasks require more effort and focus, Emma’s a strong believer in giving your body a break, to reset and tackle something new.  She makes time for self-care activities which allow her to reflect on her feelings, such as journaling or meditation.

Productivity Tip 10 – Use Shortcuts

This tip might seem old-fashioned but using really simple shortcuts can save you a lot of time and improve productivity.   Ali Richards runs the Diary Of A Detour blog and uses lots of different types of shortcut.  She bookmarks websites she visits regularly in her Chrome browser, and also those which are not used so often, since they may be harder to remember or autofill.

Ali also uses the ‘Add to Homescreen’ function on her iPhone for websites that she frequently visits on there, and also for useful PDFs.  On her desktop PC, Ali pins folders she uses regularly to the Quick Access menu so that she can open them really quickly.  She also creates shortcuts for social media awareness date PDFs and adds them to her desktop so they’re quickly accessible if she’s creating content for a client.

Finally, she pins the apps she uses regularly on the PC to her Windows taskbar so they can be opened with a single click.

More productivity tips

It’s vital that your environment is designed to make the most of your time so check out our recent article which has some really useful tips for setting up your physical workspace for maximum productivity.

We also have other productivity tips:

Free e-books

We offer some free resources to help you get started with business process automation.  Our free Introduction To Zapier e-book explains the benefits of business process automation, how Zapier fits in and examples of automations for each department within your business.

We also have a free cheat sheet with a checklist of Zapier’s inbuilt function which can supercharge your automation.  

Where can I learn more about Zapier?

Our free articles are great for finding out how to get started with automation, but if you really want to dig deeper then Kelly’s book, Automate It with Zapier, is available on Amazon.  It takes you through everything step-by-step and includes some ready-made templates for various examples so you can get started really quickly.

The book is perfect for new Zapier users as well as seasoned pros. Here are links to Amazon (.co.uk) and Amazon (.com) to get yours now.

Check out our automation training programme

And finally, if you’re really keen to transform your business using automation, then visit the Solvaa Automation Academy. Our signature training programme, ‘Simple Automation Blueprint: Zero to Hero’ is aimed at anyone who wants to learn the fundamentals of business process automation from the experts – a sure-fire way to recession-proof your business.

It’s an 8-week blended learning course with on-demand videos, templates, resources and weekly group coaching sessions. And it’s more than just a Zapier course (although we do show you how to use Zapier like a pro) as you’ll learn about Process Mapping, Business Process Improvement and Business Process Management too – principles that can be applied to other areas of business too! 

Whether you are a complete novice or have been using Zapier for a while, our programme is for you. It’s perfect for individuals and teams in micro, small and medium-sized businesses, including solopreneurs, consultants and freelancers. You’ll have access to our experts and can participate in live calls where you can ask all your burning questions, as well as hands-on workshops to keep you on track with implementing your new skills. We run regular cohorts so there will be an opportunity for everyone to participate.

Our head trainer, Kelly Goss, is a specialist in business systems, process improvement and automation, and one of less than 100 Zapier Certified Experts in the world. Kelly has many years’ experience in optimising systems and processes, and implementing automations for clients and is now passing on her knowledge to students through our trademarked ‘4-Step Solvaa Automation Methodology®‘. 

Find out more via our dedicated Solvaa Automation Academy website.

Read more about how our certified experts use Zapier workflow automations to simplify processes and increase efficiency.

Solvaa is a process and automation consultancy specialising in improving sales, operations and financial administration workflows. We help you to simplify and streamline existing processes, integrate your business tools to make data transfer more efficient and automate manual tasks to increase productivity. We are Zapier Certified Experts, Pipedrive Certified Experts and Xero Certified Advisors. 

Contact us today to discuss how Solvaa can help you simplify, improve and automate all aspects of your business with Zapier to save you time, reduce costs and keep you agile as you grow.

 

 

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