Ep 32 // #AskAkua The 5 Top Productivity Tools You Need To Know

Ep 32

As a leader who has so many things to do, it can be hard to get everything crossed off on your to-do list. You might get to the end of the day and wonder where did all that time go. So in today's episode, Akua shares with you her top five tools that have helped improve her productivity in business so that you can get more done in less time.

Not only will you learn about these five tips, but she'll also teach you how to apply them in your own life and business. And in her signature program, Uplevel for Thought Leaders, launching soon, she deep dives into this even more. So whether you're just starting out or you've been in business for a while, there's something for you here. Tune in for more!

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What's Covered in this Episode About Productivity Tools

  • Akua's top 5 things that have changed her productivity and business
  • Why being intentional with boundaries is important in business to increase productivity.
  • How Akua doubled down on her rituals, routine and leveraged her calendar when things are about to get stressed so that she can be as productive and effective as much as possible
  • Why as leaders, it's up to us to decide what we're willing to accept and place our boundaries on, and we can't expect others to respect our boundaries if we don't respect them ourselves
  • Setting aside intentional time to connect and to prioritize business development activities to help business growth.
  • How turning app notifications off during non-business hours have helped Akua tremendously in focusing on the task at hand without any interruptions.
  • Providing different amounts of time for different conversations helps with boundaries.
  • Akua's top 5 tools that have helped make a huge difference in getting things done and can help you increase your productivity as well.
  • Using software or apps like Akua's favorite calendar app MixMax can help you manage your time more efficiently.
  • How scheduling content in advance allows her to "show up" on various social media platforms
  • Why she believes leveraging video and sending voice messages allows her to connect with her audience in less time and provide value.
  • Her program, Uplevel with Thought Leaders, is a step-by-step process showing you how to show up effectively, productively, and consistently on social media without overwhelm.

Quotes from this Episode of Open Door Conversations

  • "Being intentional with my boundaries has improved my productivity even during this new normal." - Akua Nyame-Mensah

  • "I try my best not to conduct business on LinkedIn on sorry, on WhatsApp, and they even have a separate business WhatsApp number that I use sparingly." - Akua Nyame-Mensah

  • "If you want a business that's based primarily, on having conversations, making sure you have boundaries around those conversations will be key."

  • "I hate people calling me out of the blue, I have conversations for a living. So it can be incredibly distracting." - Akua Nyame-Mensah

  • "At the end of the day, none of us are perfect. But using a tool like Grammarly allows me to work through it at a lot faster rate." - Akua Nyame-Mensah

Mentioned in #AskAkua The 5 Top Productivity Tools You Need To Know

Get to Know the Host of the Open Door Conversations Podcast

Learn more about your host, Akua Nyame-Mensah.

Akua is a certified executive and leadership coach, recognized learning and organizational development facilitator, speaker, and former startup executive. 

Since 2018, she has had the opportunity to partner with amazing organizations, from high-growth startups to multinational brands all around the world, to maximize people, performance, and profit.  Outside of her coaching and corporate speaking engagements, she is a regular mentor, coach, and judge for various entrepreneurship-focused organizations.

Stay in touch with Akua Nyame-Mensah, Leadership & Culture Advisor:

  • Read about Akua’s services if you’d like to learn more about how you can hire her to help you strengthen your organization’s culture.

  • Complete her contact form to jump on a call.

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Here’s the transcript for episode 32 about The 5 Top Productivity Tools You Need To Know

NOTE: Please excuse any errors in this transcript; it was created using an AI tool. Akua Nyame-Mensah 00:07 Welcome to the open door podcast. My name is Akua Nyame-Mensah Chaos respond to Aqua. And I'm a certified executive and leadership coach recognised facilitator and former sort of leader that loves supporting reluctant buyer fighting and overwhelmed leaders. I've worked with them to help them clarify where they should focus their time, and energy each and every day so that they can love themselves, love their work, and ultimately love their life. If you're looking to learn leadership information and hear different perspectives, you are in the right place. My aim in this podcast is to help you see that one of the most productive and profitable things you can do is deeply understand yourself. Understand how you show up, understand how you thrive, and allow yourself to align everything in your work in your life, and in your business to support that, think of this podcast as your weekly opportunity to receive leadership support. And remember, there is no one right way to lead yourself or others. Thank you so much for taking the time to join me today. Let's get started. Hello, and welcome to this hashtag ask Akua episode of the open door conversations Podcast. Today I'm going to be answering the question, how can I improve my productivity? And this is a question that I've actually been asking myself over the last few days, because I'm just about to launch my signature programme up level for thought leaders. And I always want to make sure when I'm taking on something new, or I'm doing something different, that I have systems and structures in place to make sure I'm getting enough rest that I'm eating that I'm sleeping, that I'm actually creating time and space to get the work done. So today, what I'm going to be sharing are my five top things that I've improved my productivity, right. And these are things that I actually really have leveraged, especially during this pandemic and this new normal. And I think that whether you work for yourself or you work for somebody else, a lot of these will be incredibly relevant. And then I'm going to share my top five tools that I leverage in my business. And keep in mind that my business is primarily virtual 99% of it is virtual. And actually this is even when I teach in my programme up level for thought leaders. So let's get into this podcast episode, there are five things that I have kept in mind to really improve my productivity since I started working for myself. A lot of these come from my experience working within a fast growing startup and having to manage people between two different markets and two different countries. So one of the things that became incredibly important to me, as I was moving between Ghana and Nigeria was being very intentional with my boundaries. Sometimes when I look back at that time in my life, I am so in awe of what I was able to do and able to accomplish. Because I was on aeroplanes, like almost every two weeks, I was in a relationship. I was playing sports, I was going to meetings outside of the office, a lot of things were happening. And I think one of the reasons why I was able to show up and do all these things was because I was intentional with my boundaries. Now that I work for myself and I have conversations for a living, a lot of people tend to tell me that I seem busy, because they're looking at the calendar I share with them. And they're making this assumption that I'm filling up my time with just work that couldn't be further from the truth. being intentional with your boundaries includes making sure that you're creating time and space for taking breaks, for eating for sleeping. All of those pieces need to be included, need to be thought of when you are about to show up when you're doing something different when you're about to pivot. When you know you have a lot of work coming up. I find that I double down actually on my rituals and my routine and leveraging my calendar when things are about to get started. Okay. And so when people actually say to me, Oh, you seem busy or I know you're busy. I actually will tell them I'm not busy. I just have priorities and unfortunately You are not a priority. I learned early on in my professional career that people do things for their own reasons and not yours. And for a lot of people, that's a difficult lesson to learn or a difficult thing to hear me just saying that might have created some sort of response in you. But I'm not trying to be flippant, I'm not trying to be rude or disrespectful. But the reality is, it's up to each and every single one of us to decide what we're willing to accept, and what our boundaries are. And because I work for myself, it's so important, even more important, that I'm very clear about where I will spend my time and energy. Because if I don't work, if I'm not able to get clients, I'm not going to make money, right? I don't get paid whether or not I show up, right, I have to show up, I have to be there, I have to do the work in order to get paid. So really just recognising that you get to decide how you spend your time and who you spend your time with. And there's nothing wrong with letting someone know that, hey, this is not a priority now, but I can make time and space for you later. All right. So number one, being intentional with my boundaries has improved my productivity even during this new normal. The second thing that's really improved my productivity. And this is also what I teach is setting aside intentional time to use social media, I connect with clients on social media, it's my main way of doing business development. But it can also be a black hole. So I tried to schedule a few minutes each day to use my primary social media platforms. And so if you've followed me for any point in time, you know that one of my primary platforms is actually LinkedIn. Right. After my allotted time, I try to make sure I close the tab and make sure all my notifications for my social media platform are switched off. I also have a checklist that I actually use, right on all my accounts that I try to get through each and every single day. And if you want access to that checklist, I will make sure that I add it to the show notes. It's my 15 minute checklist for LinkedIn. It's literally what I do on LinkedIn. And I also use a version of it on Instagram as well. And one of the things I've also been doing recently, so this is a new thing, this isn't even in my notes, I'm just adding this or add living this is I have actually engaged the services of a VA to support me with doing some of these pieces, so that I really can focus on the things that drive my business, and allow me to generate revenue. Number three, turning off whatsapp on my laptop, and turning off WhatsApp notifications on my phone unless I need it for something. So I know for some of you listening to this, that might have been incredibly triggering, because for some of you, maybe a lot of your work a lot of your business, a lot of your connections happen through LinkedIn, that is not the case for my business. And if anything, it's incredibly distracting, and very difficult for me to connect with people on LinkedIn. Because I have all these other ways in which people have the opportunity to engage with me learn more about what I do, I really don't like using LinkedIn right for business. I will say I love LinkedIn as a tool. It's actually my favourite way to communicate and my personal life. But similar to social media, it can be a black hole. So I try my best not to conduct business on LinkedIn on sorry, on WhatsApp, and they even have a separate business WhatsApp number that I use sparingly. Why? Because so many people feel like when they see that you've seen something that you need it to respond immediately, or that you should be accessible at any point in time. And using a tool like WhatsApp makes that seem like you should be even more accessible. And so I'm not saying that you shouldn't respond to messages. But I do have a habit of seeing messages, making a decision about whether or not it's a priority, and then leaving them and responding to them at a later date. And sometimes I forget to respond, which is why in my opinion, WhatsApp is actually not the best way to keep track of conversations, especially if those conversations have to do with money. Okay. And like I mentioned before, it's very difficult to communicate what you do through simple text write or even just a voice note, I have taken time and spent energy to create lots of different tools, lots of different resources and I think those do a much better job of communicating my value than a simple text or short voice notes. Number four, and this is probably one of the most important pieces of how I show up and in a few minutes I will share the specific tool that I use primarily for this, but number four, using a calendar app and providing different amounts of time based on the importance of the conversation to my business. So once again, for some of you listening to this, this might sound a bit scary, I get it, it can be scary, right? To share things with people, or let people know you have boundaries, right, or let people know you've only set aside a certain amount of time for certain types of conversations. But here's the thing. If you want a business that's based primarily, on having conversations, making sure you have boundaries around those conversations will be key. And this is actually something that I also did when I was working full time and I had a team, I would suggest, or the way I would share it with my team is I would have certain conversations on certain days. And that just allowed me to prepare and be ready and make sure that I was available and present for members of my team. And that's the same thing I do with my clients and my potential clients as well. Personally, I hate people calling me out of the blue, I have conversations for a living. So it can be incredibly distracting. And at worst disrupts a presentation that I'm giving. I also don't like keeping track of my time, right. So I don't know my calendar offhand, it's not something I want to spend time and energy on or give brain space to, because there is technology that can help me with this. So I have an entire system that I have set up to keep track of my time. And that also is automated and updates immediately based on what I put in my calendar. It also allows me to have enough breaks in times in between my conversations as well. So you can read more about some of my favourite calendar, software and post, I will make sure that I put a link in the show notes for that. And I will also talk a little bit about my favourite calendaring app in a few minutes as well. When I talk through my top five actual tools and apps and software that I use the last thing that has improved my productivity during COVID, or during this time or during this time that I'm working for myself is getting good at and getting comfortable at saying no to things. So beyond having those boundaries, right. Beyond setting aside attentional time beyond using software or a calendaring app to help me with those boundaries. So I don't have to say it right, you just see my calendar, it's available or it's not saying no to things has been incredibly important, right? Because there was a time where I thought I had to say yes to as many things as possible. I just say yes to everything you want me to speak. Let me do this. Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. Right. I no longer do that. And my sanity and my bank account, are incredibly grateful. Because at the end of the day, I would be saying yes to things that wouldn't drive revenue in my business. I was saying yes to things where I was working with people who weren't my ideal clients, or ideal decision makers, I've actually created an entire part of my business where I do this type of work, right. And I call it volunteer work, right. And so that's something that I think about naturally put into my calendar every single week. But I'm also incredibly intentional about the things I say yes to that is volunteer work, because I want to make sure once again, that it doesn't take over my time and my energy. So I have the space and time to actually do the work that pays me. All right. So I'd love to hear your thoughts on this. Are you surprised? Are you not surprised. But these are really things that have helped me show up emotionally, physically, mentally, so I can be there for my clients and I can perform when I need to perform. So let's get into the five top tools. And as I mentioned before, these five top tools are also what I teach in my programme up level for thought leaders. So if you actually want the full list, so I think I have a full list of like a lot of different tools that I've used in the past links, examples of how I've used them, and for lots more things within my business beyond the five that I'm going to share today. And so if you want access to that, you need to make sure that you sign up for my programme waitlist, the link will also be in the show notes as well. All right, so let's get into the five top tools. my five top tools for being a productive thought leader tool number one is to help save your time. As I mentioned before, having boundaries is great. Getting intentional is great. But most importantly, you need a calendaring system that updates based on those boundaries and based on the time that you've decided to set aside so I use software that connects with my Google account called mix max. And I've used a tonne of different types of calendaring systems a tonne. And so I find that mix max is the best for what I do in my business and allows me to schedule calls with one click, it eliminates the back and forth. And I'm able to create lots of different calendars that have different times allotted to having conversations, there's a lot more that mixed Max does that I also use, such as mail merge, just to name one of them. But at the end of the day, it's really the calendaring system that got me excited about it. And that I use every single day. The second tool is around capturing information before having a conversation. So I use a lot of different tools to capture information. But in my opinion, one of the best is actually air table. And I actually use a free version of air table. And whether use air table or a Google form or type form, having something that can collect information, so you can prepare for a call or conversation can be a great way to have a productive conversation or productive negotiation. And I actually used to use a form to have conversations with members of my team when I worked full time. So it's not just something I do in my business with potential clients. It's something I even did with my team. And once again, it is not to create more work, but to have a more effective conversation, where both sides have an understanding of what they want out of it. Number three, scheduling content in advance has saved my life, I get a lot of people reaching out to me that say, wow, it seems like you're all over the place. Like you have a lot of visibility. And one, it's incredibly uncomfortable for me to do that. But there's a reason why I'm doing it. I'm building my business, I'm trying new things. And so one of the things that I use to help schedule content in advance is buffer that allows you not to have to show up each and every single day on social media at the same exact time, right. And so you're saving time, you're saving energy, and it's also allowing you to think ahead about how you would like to show up on social media. Number four, this was something that was incredibly important to me, when I decided I wanted to leverage social media, I wanted to build a mailing list, I really wanted to try to step into that thought leadership position and stop being reluctant. So number four is around saving time energy around editing. It also helps with perfectionism as well, because I do have an issue with perfectionism. I want things to be perfect, but things can't be perfect. And I do make mistakes. And I'm sure you've probably heard me make mistakes on my podcast episodes, and also seen mistakes in my writing. At the end of the day, none of us are perfect. But using a tool like Grammarly allows me to work through it a lot faster rate allows at least software to help me spot mistakes and spot you know spot spelling errors. So I can move forward and put it out there. And so if you are looking at trying to put yourself out there and one of the objections you have is Hey, like, I have no one to read this over, or I'm not sure if I'm making mistakes. using a tool like Grammarly can really help you show up the last tool that I wanted to share. And that's been really important to my business. And once again, you need to decide you Sorry, you need to decide for yourself if this is something that you're comfortable with. But for me, this is something I am more than happy to do behind the scenes, and DMS and also in emails is building authentic relationships, leveraging video, so I do do some video out as well. So I do about one live a week or so. But I actually spend a lot more time sending videos in the DMS and also an email. And once again, this is something that I also share. And I teach sort of my approach in my programme up level for thought leaders, but in my opinion, leveraging video sending voice notes, that is the best way for me to share what I do connect with my clients. And also I think serve and provide value. So if you are looking to connect with people faster, show them right, showing them what they can do or showing them what you look and sound like my favourite tool to do that is called Vinyard. Right. That's what I use. I've been using it now for the last two years and I find it to be incredibly helpful. So I just shared with you my top five tools, apps that I use in my business right, which is a primarily virtual business. On this episode. I also shared the five things that have improved my productivity. I hope that you found this episode incredibly actionable and incredibly useful. And if you are interested in learning a little bit more, or you would like to work with someone that can help you think about how you can show up effectively, productively and consistently on social media, make sure that you check out my programme up level for thought leaders where I do this, I take my participants step by step through the process that I developed. And I've also got a bunch of really great bonuses from some of my expert friends. As always, thank you so much for taking the time to listen. If you'd like to share a question with me for my next hashtag Ask a cool episode. Make sure you use the link in the show notes. Thank you so much for taking the time to listen to today's episode. If you enjoyed what you heard today, please share it with your friends. We can continue this conversation on social media the links to my socials so that is LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter. You can find them in the show notes. If you tagged me in a story and include the hashtag hashtag ask Akua I will share a special little gift with you. Thank you so much once again for your time and I cannot wait to share my next episode with you stay safe and sane.


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