A highly efficient, perfectly optimized workflow will ensure you and your team reach peak productivity levels on a regular basis. But how do you build a workflow that works. The answer: via proven technology solutions.
If you can dream it, there’s probably an app that’s been specifically designed to help you achieve it. The trick is to harness that tool for your own purposes.
In this post, we cover five ways that technology can help you improve your workflow. Whether you’re looking for a way to remove distractions, streamline communication, or better manage important projects, you’ll find the solution you need below.
Let’s dive in!
1. Remove Distractions
Distractions are the arch-enemy of productive workflows. As such, you should do your best to remove them. There are plenty of technological solutions that will help you do this, including these three popular options:
SaneBox is the ultimate inbox productivity tool. It uses AI technology to analyze user email history and learn which messages are pertinent and which aren’t. It then automatically sorts distracting emails into a specific folder, which users can check when it suits them. The result is a clean inbox that only includes the messages that users care about, eliminating stress.
SaneBox also has a Do Not Disturb feature which prohibits new emails from hitting the inbox for a predetermined amount of time and gives users the ability to unsubscribe from specific senders with one simple click.
Basic plans start at just $7 a month making SaneBox both super helpful and extremely cost-effective. No wonder big-name brands like Coca-Cola, Adidas, and eBay use the tool!
RescueTime enables its users to “get more from your day, without working more.” It does this via powerful time tracking and distraction blocking tools.
First, RescueTime can be used to automatically track the time you spend on certain projects, without annoying timers or manual entry. It then generates detailed reports that will teach you about your personal working habits and biggest productivity pitfalls. Armed with this information, you can design a better workflow for yourself based on cold, hard data.
Second, RescueTime comes with a handy website and app blocker that allows you to physically remove distractions from your workflow. Spending too much time on Instagram? Simply program RescueTime to block the app during work hours and eliminate all temptation.
RescueTime will cost you $9 a month after a 14-day free trial.
Users simply choose the websites and apps that distract them most, key in the amount of time they want them blocked, and then enjoy a distraction-free work zone that helps users regain a reported 2.5 hours of productive time every single day.
Freedom also allows users to:
- Block the entire internet with the click of a button
- Block all websites except the ones needed for work
- Automatically schedule blocks to start and end at specific times
- Sync blocks across all devices
After a free trial, Freedom can be accessed for $6.99 a month, $29 a year, or $129 for life.
2. Streamline Communication
Technology makes communication between team members simple — even if said team members work remotely and are separated by thousands of miles. This is important because poor communication will quickly disrupt an otherwise well-designed workflow. Use these three tools to better communicate with your team:
Slack is an incredibly popular work communication tool. In fact, we’d be surprised if you’ve never heard of it before. Teams around the world use it to stay in touch and improve communication via text, voice, and video chat features.
All conversations inside Slack can be organized into convenient channels based on company department, client, partner, etc. and users have the ability to leave or rejoin conversations at any time — something they can’t do when conversing via email.
It’s important to note Slack’s searchable history feature, which allows users to easily find important information from previous conversations and learn the context of past decisions.
Slack also makes it easy to connect multiple tools such as Zoom, Asana, and Trello (all mentioned below) for a streamlined and worry-free workflow. Get started with Slack for free, then upgrade to a premium plan starting at $8 a month.
Zoom is another incredibly popular communication tool — especially since many workers have been forced to work remotely due to COVID-19. The video conferencing app comes with HD audio and video, recording and transcripts, built-in collaboration tools, the ability to host webinars, and more.
Studies show that a substantial portion of communication is nonverbal. That’s why video conferencing software is so powerful. It allows users to see one another and converse more productively, strengthening their workflows in the process.
Zoom is completely free to use, though, you’ll need to upgrade to a paid plan to get access to all of the tool’s features. Plans start at $14.99 a month.
Next, we have CloudApp, a visual collaboration tool that gives you access to screen and webcam recording, GIF creation, and image annotation features.
Imagine how productive your communication with colleagues will become when you can simply record your screen to teach complex workflows instead of typing out detailed instructions. Or annotate an image to give crystal clear feedback.
Many CloudApp customers, including industry heavyweights like Salesforce, Uber, and Adobe, use CloudApp to save hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars a year. In fact, 53% of Fortune 500 companies use CloudApp to create more productive workflows.
The best part? CloudApp is completely free to use! Get started today and experience the workflow enabling power of CloudApp for yourself.
3. Properly Manage Your Projects
You’ve removed distractions and invested in a few tools to make team communication more intuitive. Now it’s time to improve your project management abilities. Once again, technology is here to make the process easier. Choose one of these top project management software and ensure your projects are always completed on time and on budget:
When it comes to project management tools, Asana is a recognized leader in the field. The tool offers professionals a variety of perks including multiple project views; automated workflows; in-project due dates, task owners, chat capabilities; and more.
To ensure Asana users are able to build the most efficient workflows possible, the project management app includes 50+ project templates that can be customized.
Planning a marketing event? Onboarding a new sales representative? Maybe you’re simply trying to track candidates for open roles. Asana includes proven templates for each of these projects. It also gives you the ability to design your own templates for standard practices.
Like many of the tools mentioned in this article, Asana can be used for free. But access to premium features requires a fee of $13.49+ a month per user.
Trello is one of the simplest project management tools to use — it’s also one of the most powerful. The Kanban app allows users to create Boards for each of their projects, then populate them with Lists to mark project stages and Cards to represent specific tasks.
Cards can be customized to include due dates, attachments, and comments, which help facilitate communication and keep projects progressing smoothly.
Trello also features automation capabilities to greatly increase the productivity of user workflows. Remove tedious tasks with rule-based triggers, calendar and due date commands, and more so that you can focus on the bigger picture.
Trello can be accessed on all devices, integrated with a host of other popular tools, and can be used for free. Need access to upgraded features? Select a paid plan for $9.99+ a month.
Airtable is one part spreadsheet, one part database, and all parts workflow-boosting awesomeness. It’s a completely flexible solution that will allow you to organize your work in whatever way you see fit.
Choose to view your projects in one of five different ways: grid, calendar, kanban, gallery, or form. Then add tasks to your projects that can be customized to include owners, due dates, priority levels, attachments, comments, and more. Next, link related content together to eliminate duplicate data entry and create smart relationships. Lastly, integrate Airtable with your favorite tools for a streamlined workflow that makes productive days the norm.
Airtable’s basic features are available to use for free. Upgraded plans start at $9.99 a month per user and will give you access to more storage space and longer revision history.
4. Purposefully Boost Productivity
How else can technology improve your workflow? By making you more productive via analytics and science. The following apps have been proven to help users get more done in less time:
Toggl is an intuitive time-tracking app that entire teams can use to boost their productivity. It works on all devices and makes time-tracking “so easy, you’ll actually use it.”
Once your hours have been logged in the Toggl system, an in-depth report will be generated to help you discover how you spend your time, if your efforts are profitable or not, when projects go over the estimated time you’ve allotted for them, and more.
You can’t increase productivity and create better workflows until you understand how effective your current efforts are. Toggl will give you this information for $9+ a month, per user.
Let’s face it, focusing on a single task for an extended period is difficult. Between text message and email notifications, social media apps, and chatty colleagues, it’s nearly impossible to concentrate on important tasks for longer than a few minutes at a time. Unfortunately, without focus, productivity plummets and workflows suffer.
Focus@Will is a revolutionary tool that can increase productivity by as much as 400% via expertly crafted, scientifically-backed music playlists.
By studying the brain, Focus@Will has been able to produce music tracks that keep listeners in “the zone” and working more productively for longer. All you have to do is sign up, take a quick quiz so that the app can create a customized playlist for you, turn up the volume on your headphones, and enjoy a better working environment.
Focus@Will costs $69.99 a year after a free 28-day trial. It also guarantees your money back after 30 days if you’re not happy with the service.
5. Optimize Your Processes
The final step is to optimize your processes. How can you make your workflow more efficient? Perhaps you can eliminate time-consuming steps or automate certain jobs with technology.
An app like Zapier, for example, will let you connect individual software tools and automate tedious tasks that bog down your workday. Imagine being able to collect leads on Facebook, have contact information directly imported into MailChimp, and then receive a Slack notification updating you on the transaction. With Zapier, this scenario is entirely possible!
Additionally, many of the tools mentioned above include detailed analytics dashboards, which will allow you to objectively view your unique workflows and processes and identify potential areas for improvement. Using these details, you can make the proper adjustments and boost both individual and team productivity at your organization.
Technology will help you improve your workflow. But you have to analyze your processes to better determine how to use the tech tools at your disposal.
Better Technology, Better Workflows
Technology has the power to help you build an efficient workflow and improve your productivity. You just have to know which tools to invest in. Fortunately, the 12 solutions mentioned in this article are proven and well-loved by their many users.
We encourage you to invest in a few of them and turn your average workflow in a supercharged, productivity-boosting machine. Good luck!
Joe Martin is CloudApp’s GM and VP of Marketing. With more than 13 years of experience in the industry and tech that makes it run, he provides strategic guidance on how to build and use the right stack for businesses. Formerly Head of Social Analytics at Adobe, Joe believes marketers need smart training and leadership to scale company growth. Connect with Joe on LinkedIn and follow him on Twitter @joeDmarti.