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Productivity Boosting Tools for eLearning Pros

By October 13, 2016March 3rd, 2017One Comment

Being an eLearning Developer means being very busy—all of the time—and requires maintaining a high level of productivity. From developing prototypes, to sifting through mountains of feedback from the latest review cycle, there’s always something to do. For those of us that work from home, it can be even more challenging balancing work with the rest of life.

It sometimes feels impossible!

With a seemingly never-ending to-do-list, it’s important that we work as quickly and efficiently as possible, in order to get everything done on time and on budget. Here are two tools that I use to help keep me on track and able to balance everything.

Tackling E-Mail With Mixmax

Whether you work in an office or on a virtual team, e-mail is a godsend. However, with our reliance on email, comes an avalanche of messages to send, respond to, and keep track of. It’s no wonder that our inboxes feel like an out of control monster.

Enter Mixmax—a wonderful Chrome add-on for Gmail, that helps make runaway e-mail a little more manageable.

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How It Improves Productivity

Although this is a freemium tool, the free tier alone is more than worthwhile.

Mixmax helps me with everything from drafting engaging messages, to scheduling meetings with only a few clicks. Some other notable features include the ability to create templates for messages, “snooze” messages in your inbox to respond to later, add polls and surveys, and the ability to track who has opened or has yet to respond to your message.

The only downside to this tool is that it only works with Chrome and Gmail—for those of you that use another browser or email-client, you’re unfortunately out of luck.

Staying Productive With Pomodoro Technique

It’s no secret that even on a light day, our to-do-lists typically feel like they’re a mile long. When there are multiple projects with conflicting timelines,  we need a way to be able to focus on individual tasks, in a way that allows you to get to everything, while still being able to get to get some serious work done. If that’s not challenging enough, we have to do this without burning ourselves out.

Last year, I struggled with this challenge and was struggling. Then, I came across this LifeHacker article on something called the Pomodoro Technique. The premise of the technique is we work in short, yet intensely focused sessions—usually up to 25 minutes at a time—followed by short breaks.

Since I didn’t have an egg-timer, and didn’t really want a physical one sitting on my desk, I searched for an app that could help—and there are a lot of options out there. Being a die-hard Mac guy, I landed on Focus. I love it for it’s ability to sync between MacOS and iOS devices—but you have to buy two separate apps to take advantage of this feature.

But there are plenty of free solutions available, too.

Focus Screenshot

How It Improves Productivity

Let me be clear, the Pomodoro Technique revolutionized how I work. By breaking my work day into intensely focused sessions, with short frequent breaks in between, I’ve improved my productivity by at least two-fold.

Here’s how it can work for you.

Pick a task from your to-do-list. If you’re using something like Focus, you can type your list into the app. Set a timer for twenty-five minutes on your phone, or start the timer on your app of choice, and get to work. The most important thing during this time is that you’re 100% focused on the task at hand. So, it’s a good idea to take steps to eliminate any unnecessary distractions.

By breaking up our day into these small chunks of alternating between intense focus and relaxation, we keep ourselves moving quickly and keep our minds fresh.

What tools or techniques do you use on a regular basis to help make the most of your day and maximize your overall productivity? Share them by commenting below!

Mike Jones

Hi, I'm Mike. I design and develop high-quality learning solutions that focus on outcomes—meeting the needs of the client, their organization, and their learners. As an Instructional Designer and L&D Professional, I have had extensive experience creating eLearning, blended, and traditional Instructor-led Training (ILT) in corporate, medical, and non-profit settings. My passion for lifelong learning and cutting edge technology is only furthered through collaborating with others that are just as passionate about helping people.

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