I remember the first time I worked past 9 PM. It was Valentine’s Day, and while I didn’t have a date it still stung to be working on social media calendars and content past my normal no-screen-time-hour. Several years later, having pulled late nights that went into the 3 AM range (I’m so sorry, body!) I knew it was time for a change. I was desperate to take control of my time and start seeing results without the late nights.

Along the journey, I tested everything from traditional paper to-do lists to project management software. As a content and social strategist, some of these tools will be specific to those roles. Most will be applicable regardless of your industry. Best of luck, and happy working.

Watch the clock.

The number one way to reclaim your time? Track it. Understand where you’re spending the most time and why. Without Toggl, I wouldn’t be sure which tasks take up most my time, and I wouldn’t be able to formulate a plan on how to manage and maximize every hour. This also helps our entire team at Mad Fish see overall utilization and informs our executive team about who has the bandwidth to take on new projects.

Project management, revolutionized.

Asana boards and projects have helped me develop and track content strategies as well as communicate cross teams. I’m able to manage to-do lists, communicate project status, and get overviews of what’s coming up with just a few clicks. It’s dynamic nature and constant evolutions makes it easier to template projects and, in any business that requires replication of success, you’re able to see every step that made a project happen in a cohesive manner.

Take the headache out of your social media.

For anyone managing social media, knowing the best ways to manage profiles can be complicated. Whether you’re handling multiple accounts, brands, or regions being able to utilize analytics tools and scheduling in the same platform is a necessity. With Buffer the Mad Fish Digital team manages over 25 social accounts, posting to 6 social networks… without the headaches. From our content inbox to automated schedules and queuing, we’re able to stay ahead of the curve without the legwork.

Go old school.

Traditional to-do lists. With all that’s digital, I still enjoy my five-day desktop planner where I can move events, meetings, and do the ever-important physical crossing off of tasks. This one’s low tech and we like it that way. Whether you’re keeping up in your Passion Planner or choosing to bullet journal your heart out, we know there’s a way to hit the physical to-do list that keeps you on track without the digital footprint.

Don’t be afraid to snooze emails.

Less of a tool and more of a habit, I’ve been managing my email, hitting inbox zero, and maintaining control of my email status for weeks now. My secret? A combination of snoozing, folders, and treating my inbox like a to-do list. If I’m able to respond and handle an email immediately, it’s my priority past 12PM. In the morning, I take time to do deep work and stay away from distractions (I’m looking at you, Slack) but in the afternoon I make it my mission to finish my inbox every day. That way I’m never spending my Friday evening plowing through emails, and I’ve stopped sending those “Sorry for the delay!” emails. Feels good, y’all.

SelfControl. No, really.

Self-control is a great tool. Just kidding – kind of. Often if I’m feeling like I’m struggling to engage with a task or work one day, I promise myself that I can take a break if I just lock in and get things done for an hour. For days you can’t do it on your own, SelfControl for Chrome keeps me honest. You can add as many sites as necessary to the list, and then put yourself on distraction free mode and get going. Then, if you try to visit a site that you’ve marked as off limits (it’ll happen out of habit, I promise) you get a message about staying focused. Thank me when your productivity skyrockets.

Update your Post-it wall.

If you need to take notes, create lists, or just generally create a post it wall but don’t have the space Google Keep is perfect for you. It’s like a super organized person’s digital Beautiful Mind wall. There’s not much to say about this other than that it will keep all your notes in one piece so you can stop rifling through papers or Google Docs for that note from that one meeting three weeks ago. Nail that process and don’t forget the important stuff.

Ready to hit the ground running? Make the tools work with you so you can start walking out the door by 3 PM – or, just get that extra time to do professional development in the afternoon. Personally, I’ve been using Dash from General Assembly to learn the basics of code. Check it out once you have all that free time.