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If you have ever wasted an hour (or four) scrolling through endless Facebook and Instagram feeds, or been sucked into yet another ‘which Disney Princess do you share your DNA with’ quiz (Snow White, in case you are interested) then today’s blog is for you!

It’s not rocket science to know that being productive is the best way to work, and you have two ways to go about it, work more hours, or use the hours you have more efficiently. I know which I choose…work smarter, not harder.

One of the best things about the ‘work-anywhere, anytime’ business model is that tools are constantly being developed to help maximise productivity. It doesn’t matter whether you want to delegate tasks, make notes, schedule actions, or manage teams, nowadays there’s an app out there to help you.

Here we look at 3 ways, alongside the tools, to help you increase your productivity and efficiency at work.

Distraction Blockers

When you need to focus, you need to block out all distractions. Not getting sucked into looking at non-work-related social media pages is a key way to make sure you use your work time in the most efficient way possible. Freedom allows you to block out certain websites and apps, or even block yourself from the internet entirely, if you so wish. You can create your own scheduled, focused sessions for your work time. For example, you want to avoid all social media applications between 9am and 11am, set up your session, and Freedom will not allow you access to any of them, until your allotted time has arrived. You can also really test your willpower with StayFocusd, a free Google Chrome extension, that limits how long you can spend on time-wasting websites. You simply set the amount of time you want to allow yourself access to sites you find distracting, and once your time is up, the sites that you have pre-selected will be inaccessible for the rest of the day…especially helpful for keeping your mind on the task if you need to access social media for work projects, and inevitably end up getting distracted.

Mental State

Brain.fm use music to influence cognitive states. Rooted firmly in scientific research Brain.fm is touted as one of the most advanced A.I music composers on the planet. They say their purpose is to ‘empower peoples minds to achieve more’. Developed by a group of musicians, engineers, scientists and entrepreneurs, you simply tell Brainf.fm what you want to achieve, (whether you want to focus, meditate, relax, nap, or sleep) and it tailors a track just for you. You could also take a look at Noizio which plays tranquil sounds to block out background noise, especially helpful if you are working from home with the sounds of daily life around you, or trying to work in a public place, simply plug in some headphones and choose the sounds of a crackling fireplace, waves or gusts of wind.

Task Management

If organisation is a problem, then sorting this issue out is a sure-fire way to become more productive at work. Thankfully, these days there are loads of good apps to help you, Trello being one of them. With both desktop and mobile capabilities, Trello is essentially a web page which holds lists of things to do, the clean layout allows you to get a great overall view of the projects in hand. Items within your lists are called cards, and represent tasks you want to keep track of, you can drag and drop tasks between different lists based on their status. The cards individually can contain anything from images and documents to attachments, checklists and deadlines, which anyone else who is sharing the page your cards are attached too can also see. It’s a sort of to-do list crossed with a virtual pin board system, and works really well for collaborating and managing projects, whether you want to assign the tasks to teams and or individual users.

Hopefully these ideas have given you some inspiration to get focused and be more productive while you work! Why not go on and test some of them for yourself, see how your productivity and efficiency increases! If you have already used one or some of the tools mentioned here or have suggestions of other tools that help you already, drop us a comment below and let us know about them!