My Top 5 Productivity Tools Revealed

In my role as a virtual assistant, I’m constantly looking for ways to boost productivity – both for myself and for my clients. And while productivity is hugely influenced by psychological factors, such as mindset, mood and motivation to name but a few, there is also a plethora of tools available to help us be the most productive versions of ourselves.

But using tools to boost productivity isn’t new and it’s certainly not revolutionary. After all, we’ve been using tools to make our lives easier and increase our efficiency since the Stone Age. Therefore, it stands to reason that the ubiquity of the internet would lead to the development of countless productivity tools.

On a day-to-day basis I use loads of different tools and applications to help me with my work. Everything from Skype for communicating with clients to Evernote for capturing all of my thoughts and sharing ideas. However, whilst these two applications are extremely useful, they didn’t make my top 5 productivity-boosting tools list.

Let’s see what did…


Without Asana, my days would be an absolute nightmare. Sure there are numerous other applications out there that help manage workloads, but I’ve found Asana to be the best. Their slogan says it all, “Teamwork without email” and that’s exactly my experience with it.

I use Asana for keeping track of every piece of work that I do for my clients. Every outstanding task is created and a due date entered. The way everything is managed is just perfect as the tasks are all grouped by client and you can see a general overview of your schedule with the calendar feature.

I’m able to create separate workspaces for everyone I collaborate with, like my writers, virtual assistants, eBook formatters and graphic designers. Asana even gives me the ability to chat with them and see real-time task updates.

Get Started in Asana from Asana on Vimeo.


I honestly can’t imagine what my working life would be like nowadays without Dropbox. I use it for absolutely everything in terms of file management and sharing. And the fact that it synchronises silently in the background means I am never stuck without my files wherever I am.

The beauty of Dropbox is that it not only provides a cloud storage solution for everyday people like you and I but it also allows files to be shared effortlessly. For example, if I have a new brief for one of my writers I simply drop it into the relevant Dropbox folder on my computer and it takes care of the rest. The files are sync’d in the background and ultimately end up on my writer’s computer.


Hootsuite is my one stop shop for everything social media related and my life would be a whole lot more complicated without it.

Basically, Hootsuite allows you to manage all your Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, LinkedIn (and many more) activity in one centralised interface. Perhaps its most useful feature is the ability to schedule messages and updates. You can rack up a significant amount of updates and let Hootsuite do the rest.

Moreover, there are analytical tools to let you see which of your campaigns are working and there’s even a clock that tells you how much time you’re saving by using Hootsuite – priceless!


Find yourself regularly checking the major social networks for updates that are relevant to you and your clients? Most of us do but a lot of time can be wasted trawling through page after page of irrelevant content.

Feedly, however, allows me to check all of my regular sources of news in one centralised application. I can configure all of the sources I want to glean information from in one place and peruse a simplified version of all of them.

If any of you are still waking up each morning and checking a variety of online sources for updates then you are wasting both time and energy. Simply add your favourite news sources to Feedly and let it do the rest – you’ll be glad you did!

If This Then That

Okay, so the name sounds bizarre and the URL even stranger but If This Then That is one of my biggest time savers.

It’s difficult to explain but anyone who’s familiar using it will understand the benefits and the name really does say it all: If This Then That.

The basic premise is that you can configure IFTTT to handle numerous scenarios for you automatically and trigger certain actions. For example, your social media channels, like Facebook and LinkedIn, can have triggers associated to them. When something happens on one of these channels that satisfies your configured trigger criteria something else happens.

It all sounds very confusing, but once you get used to it you will realise its true value. For example, you can configure IFTTT to automatically create a status message on Facebook every time you are tagged in someone else’s status.

That’s a very simple example but the possibilities are almost endless. Check it out for yourself to see its full potential.

So that’s my top 5 tools for boosting productivity. I’d love to hear if you’ve got any others that you use and the reasons why you use them.

Working with a Virtual Assistant – Part 2

This is the second in a series of articles I will be writing about Working with a Virtual Assistant.

Following Part 1 of my series of articles about Working with a Virtual Assistant, I have been very lucky to start working with a couple of new clients. After working with them for a few weeks it’s given me some interesting material for my articles.

Working to Deadlines

Until recently many of my clients have been very laid back about deadlines. The tasks they have given me have popped up in my inbox but with no set deadlines for me to get the work completed by.

Only in the last few weeks have I realised how detrimental this is to my working practices. I can of course set my own deadlines, but then in the back of my mind I think that if I don’t manage to get the work done by then the client won’t necessarily chase me up for it.

I started working with a new client a couple of weeks ago and he has been very thorough in providing me with set deadlines for tasks, and this has improved my productivity in bucket loads.

When you work with a Virtual Assistant deadlines are very important because VA’s work with many clients at the same time. Say your new virtual assistant has 10 clients, all sending tasks on a daily basis, she will need to have some idea when the tasks need to be completed so she can prioritise her working day.

Task Management Tools

In the last few months as my client base has grown I have started using a Task Management Tool again. You may or may not remember a post I wrote last year about a free task management tool called Asana. 

Asana is a task management tool for teams. It can be a team of 10, or a team of 1! I use Asana as a CRM, I can keep track of my clients and enquiries as well as the tasks I need to do for them. The good thing about Asana is you can set-up different workspaces and invite others to join. My new client is now set-up on Asana and assigns tasks to me directly through the tool. I receive a notification of the task as well as the deadline and we can communicate through the individual tasks to keep emails to the bare minimum. Asana saves you time!

When you’re working with a Virtual Assistant, being organised with the tasks you set them will benefit both you and your VA, it will help your working relationship and tasks will be completed on time and with the minimum of fuss.

As well as communication (as discussed in Part 1), setting deadlines and finding a way of organising tasks are really important when you work with a Virtual Assistant, or any Freelancer!

Do you work with a virtual assistant? Are you setting deadlines? 

If you don’t currently work with a virtual assistant, then why not sign-up to my mailing list to receive my free eBook ‘3 Key Benefits of Using a Virtual Assistant‘ and then get in touch for a no obligation phone call (or email) about how I can help you in your business.

Get Organised with this Free Resource

I love free resources and I think this is certainly one of the top project management resources I’ve found so far.  Having only just signed up to Asana I’m not able to give you a complete review but I hope that by making you aware of it, it will give you the opportunity to try it out for yourself.

Asana is a task management tool for teams, so ideal for a virtual assistant like me who works with various different clients.  You can invite up to 30 people to your workspace, which for a small business is plenty I would think.

I have been looking through the website and found a great overview of the product here – Task Management for Teams.

With Asana you can:

  • Sync with your calendar (Google, Apple , Outlook…)
  • Use it on the move with your smart phone or tablet
  • Create multiple workspaces
  • Assign a task to another member of your team
  • See real-time changes immediately
  • Integrate with your inbox
  • Create project templates
  • Follow tasks or projects
  • Tag items across projects
  • Create private projects
  • See the activity feed for each task

These are just the basics, I have been using Asana for my ongoing to-do list, breaking the tasks down into clients so I can easily see what I should be working on.  When a due date is coming up Asana will email you with a reminder, which is useful if you don’t have the browser open all the time.

On their website there is a useful 2 minute video which gives you a quick demonstration of the basic functionality and ideas called How to use Asana, in 2 minutes.  I’ve embedded it here, or you can click the link above.

I’m always looking for resources that could save me time and organise me and this one does both, so if you’ve been using Asana or you sign-up following my recommendation, let me know what you think by leaving a comment below?

If you’re looking for more time management tips take a look at my recent posts Time Management Tips and Reading List Overwhelming You? 6 Tips That Will Help!