girl working on a laptop

I’ve been writing for the past 7 years. My journey as a copywriter started during my first year at uni. I landed a fantastic internship in a Bulgarian leading online media. The internet magazine covered all things digital, including digital marketing, copywriting, advertising, technology and trends. This is where I learned to read, learn and write. This is where I learned to keep my promises, stick to my agenda and chase a purpose. This is where I “graduated” from the internship, being the best-performing intern there, to turn into a full-time author.

A year later, I’ve decided it’s time to change directions.

Throughout the years I’ve tested many applications and techniques for effective and creative writing process. Because at some point I shifted into the world of web design, I had to both make extra time to learn new skills, and work at the same time. I’ve come to a very profound, yet simple conclusion.

You don’t need expensive technology and fancy work setup to be productive.

  1. Clean Desk

Essential. At least for me. I noticed I changed my habits when I graduated high school. Compared to years ago, when I was messy and artsy, I found more ease when my work surface was clean and polished. I removed all memorabilia such as postcards, photos and little objects that either someone gave me, or I brought with myself from my travels. I only left what I needed to do my job. My laptop, a desk lamp I like, a notebook/planner with a pen, and my coffee cup.

  1. Laptop Accessories

My research volumes got bigger and bigger, and with my doing basic, yet “okay-ish” design work, I had to buy myself an external monitor so I can have a bigger digital surface to work with. I might have not mentioned, buy my high school major was fine arts. I developed interest into digital art. So I bought myself two tablets – a graphic tablet I often use for retouch and rough sketches on Photoshop, and an iPad Pro I almost always carry with me. Without noticing it, the iPad replaced my Kindle and often – my laptop. This is where I consume content, read books and take notes. I’ve added a pair of Apple AirPods to reduce the space and make it more convenient for me when I have to work from some place else. Fun fact: when I got my AirPods, I started listening to more podcasts and audiobooks.

  1. Simplified System of Apps

Task management software. My favourite. I’ve tried it all. Teamwork, Trello, Asana, Jira, AnyDo, Todoist. These work and are wonderful for their functionalities, but did I need them at the time my work volume was not as overwhelming as it is now? But over time, you develop a habit of logging your tasks and getting them done. And I believe, when you work for yourself, or toward a goal of yours, it’s important to have all the steps you need to take in order to achieve that somewhere. Preferably – with reminders.

My top choices for task management systems are:

Super easy to use. Convenient for both desktop/laptops and mobile devices. You can create multiple boards and customise them in a way that works for you. I customise mine as my Jira Kanban boards, when I used to work in software development. My boards consist of: To Do column, Planned column, In Progress column, Blocked column and Done column. Most of these are self-explanatory. The Blocked column is usually for tasks that have been in progress, but something more important is currently up on the table, so these will wait there until I can resume work. Available for mobile (Android, iOS) and desktop (Mac, Windows).

AnyDo is a simplified to-do list that has multiple features, if you are willing to make it a bit more complex and you like taking notes. Literally, write your to-do tasks, plan them across the week and add a reminder here and there, if you need it. Free, available for mobile and desktop.

I came across Teamwork during my stay at my previous job. My then colleague decided that it’s probably better to delegate tasks and log them somewhere online, so we can both keep track on what’s happening, watch the progress as the tasks get done, and go back and search for questions, answers or solutions, if an issue occurs and we have had a similar one logged in. I found Teamwork the most complex of these 3. I’d suggest this app if you have a team of at least 3 people. Otherwise a good notebook and a calendar will do the same job, but will save you some time logging tasks and creating multiple projects. Another simplified app, that might work just about the same is Todoist.

  1. App Blockers & Time Trackers

I discovered that I’m a master procrastinator. If I got paid to procrastinate and get things done in the last minute, I’d be a millionaire by now. Because of that, I oftentimes used to find myself working overtime, and on the weekends. This impacted negatively my relationships, my health and got me a good deal of anxiety. I can write (and probably will) a whole post on procrastination and how to beat it, but today I will give you my top apps.

This simple app I discovered, because I wanted to track how much time I spend on certain websites. After using it for a couple of months, I came to conclusion I have a serious social media addiction that does not help me grow, learn and develop skills. It actually prevented me from doing my job and functioning properly. FocusTime is easy to install and runs on the back, along with other system processes. After a week or so, go to the dashboard and choose which website is what – productive, somewhat productive or very distracting. You can get daily, weekly and monthly reports and overlook your productivity pulse.

  • Freedom

Freedom blocks the apps and websites you tend to visit the most at your highest peak of distraction. It’s available for Mac, Windows and iOS and I guarantee you, you will love it.

  • BeFocused

Short attention span, master procrastinator or simply addicted to social media, BeFocused will keep you on track and on the top of your game for shorter, yet intense periods of time. The app has adopted the Pomodoro system and rewards you with 5-minute breaks for each 25-minute block of work.

The truth is, if you develop the habit of deep work and keep a good track of your tasks in one convenient place, you can still get the same amount of productivity out of it. Those applications, and their alternatives, are meant to help you get organised, learn to prioritize, keep track of what you are working on, and working toward, and give you an overview of your activities and intentions months and even years back.