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14 Smart Apps To Improve Your Work/Life Balance

14 Smart Apps To Improve Your Work/Life Balance

Some days we just have too many demands competing for our precious time – between work, family time, hobbies and personal goals, managing our time in a way that leaves us content rather than frazzled, could be a particular challenge for a lot of us. Luckily, we have technology to help us cope.

If you have the feeling you have been constantly busy, juggling too much things at a time and in the end of the day still feeling you haven’t accomplish everything you’ve planned, here are 14 smart apps to help you achieve the right balance between work and play time!

1.Timeneye (For smart time management)

Timeneye

    Timeneye is a free visually appealing, non-distracting time tracking app for personal use to monitor how you spend your time on basically anything – from work projects to hobbies. You can easily sync it with other software like Basecamp, Google Calendar, Asana, Trello and track your time without switching between them. In time the app will learn about your habits and automatically create suggested time entries for you! That means you spend less time on dull work and have more room for creativity and innovation.

    Timeneye is available as a web service, Android and iOS app for free for personal use and costs from $9/month for teams up to 5 people. You can check all available plans here.

    2. Tribesports (For regular workouts)

    Tribe Sports

      With Tribesports you will have more motivation to stick to your workout schedule. This cool app allows sporty users to connect with each other, find inspiration for training and complete various fitness challenges. With an inbuilt GPS tracker you can monitor and analyze all your activity, keep all vitals in one place, make photos and record your routine to share it with the rest of community. The app tracks your fitness goals and gives you a detailed visual overview of your progress each week/month/all time to keep you inspired to find more time and energy for sports!

      Available for free for iOS and Android devices.

      3. Focus Booster (For staying on task)

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      focus booster

        Focus Booster encourages you to stop wasting time on unneeded tasks and get straight to business. Based on the Pomodoro technique, the app allows you to set ‘focus’ time windows and breaks and switch on the timer to start work. During your work time you can’t stop the timer as your session won’t be recorded and added to your time sheet. This app is essential for freelancers to bill their clients correctly by setting up hourly rates for each client and then just auto-tracking the time you’ve spent on the project. And pretty much everyone else planning to use their time wise.

        Available as a desktop app for free with premium features starting from $2.99 per month.

        4. Slice (for smarter online shopping)

        Slice app

          Slice is a handy email add-on that will search your email inbox to find and collect all online order receipt information and store it in a neat list.  In fact you can create different handy lists, e.g. to track package delivery dates or a smart wish list that will automatically send you notification if a product’s price drop.  With Slice, you can spend less time on browsing through numerous shopping sites and have your inbox flooded with different alerts and notifications at once!

          Available for free as an iOS and Android app.

          5. SavedPlus (For saving money the smart way)

          SavedPlus

            SavedPlus encourages you to save money without even realizing it (or doing some crazy math). To start saving all you need to do is connect your credit cards and bank accounts and set a percentage that will be auto transferred to you savings account. For instance, if you spend $50 on eating out, and you’ve said you want to save 10 per cent of your total spending, then $5 will immediately go straight from you current account to your savings account. Try it and by the end of the month you’ll be surprised how easy saving money could be!

            Available for free as a desktop, iOS and Android app.

            6. Simply Yoga (For timely breaks)

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            Simply Yoga

              Simply Yoga app will help you squeeze in a 10, 20, 40 or 60-minute yoga workout wherever you are. The app walks you through more than 60 poses step-by-step and allows to built custom workouts. Remember, physical exercises help you stay productive and instantly reduce stress!

              Available for $3.99 for iOS devices.

              7. Splashtop Remote Desktop (For spending less time at the desk)

              Splashtop

                To get things done on the go no matter where on Earth you are, install Splashtop Remote Desktop. The app allows you to access all your PC or Mac files and programs from smartphone or tablet. It also streams video and audio from users’ PCs or Macs, and interact with PowerPoint, Keynote, Word, Excel and other application. Don’t feel glued to your desk and laptop longer than it is needed!

                Available for all operational systems and numerous types of devices starting from $4.99.

                8. Way of Life (For breaking bad habits)

                Way of Life

                  One of the reasons why you are struggling to achieve proper life balance, might be your habits – e.g. lack of proper sleep, pour diet etc. Way of life helps you get rid of the bad ones and develop good ones instead. You can plot daily/weekly goals and track whether or not you are meeting them. Your progress is visually displayed in form of bar charts with trend lines, scoreboards for instant feedback and multiple daily reminders.

                  Available for iOS devices for free.

                  9. Cozi Family Organizer (For more family time)

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                  Cozy

                    Make sure you always have time for the family with the help of Cozi Family Organizer. The app allows you to manage family members’ schedules, appointments and activities, so you never miss your kid’s football match once again. Sync it with Google calendar, share to-do/shopping lists and keep a family collection of recipes to shop by dish. The app is essential to organize your family life efficiently and always make sure you have time for everyone!

                    Available for free for iOS, Android and Windows devices.

                    10. Stress Tracker (For eliminating stress)

                    Stress Tracker

                      Capture and reduce stress levels thought the day with Stress Tracker. You can record your stress levels during the day. Add different info such as the source of stress, symptoms of stress, and overall mood. Afterwards use the app’s “insights” tools to identify your biggest triggers and learn to avoid them. After all, a balanced life is a less stressed life!

                      Available for iOS devices only.

                      11. Daily Routine (For managing your daily chores)

                      Daily Routine

                        The name says for itself in this case. Daily Routine app helps you keep track of all your daily tasks and sends notifications on what you should be doing and when. You can schedule routines for specific days of the week/month and add special reminders for those tasks you typically forget. Now, you won’t spend your precious time on running to the nearby corner store late at night when you forgot to buy cat food again. Besides, you can easily print out your daily chores created with the app and stick them to the fridge or cubicle-wall.

                        Available for $4.99 for iOS devices only.

                        12. SortMyBox (For online de-cluttering)

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                        Sort My Inbox

                          While de-cluttering your house seems like a daunting task, de-cluttering online files can get even more frustrating. Yet, SortMyBox can easily help you with that! The app helps you clean up and organize all your Dropbox files, so you could spend less time on digging for what you need! You can set special filters for different type of files (just like in your email) to avoid the mess later on.

                          Available as desktop app for free.

                          13. IFTTT (For eliminating routine)

                          ifttt

                            IFTTT stands for If This Then That and allows you to easily program repetitive actions and avoid spending time on them in the first place! For example, if the weather changes to rain, the app will send a text to warn me; if I post photo on Instagram it’s adapted and auto-shared on Twitter. This app saves you some valuable minutes each day that turn into hours by the end of the week.

                            Available as a web-based service for free.

                            14. Zirtual (For virtual assistance)

                            Zirtual

                              If you are still struggling with finding more time for play, get help from Zirtual. The service assigns you a dedicated virtual PA to take some of the administrative and organizational tasks off of your plate. Zirtual assistants can respond to emails, coordinate and schedule travel plans, manage your calendar, create itineraries and pretty much anything else you assign them to do.

                              Plans start from $399 per month and you can check all options available here.

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                              Elena Prokopets

                              Freelance Writer

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                              Last Updated on November 18, 2019

                              5 Hacks to Speed up the Learning Process

                              5 Hacks to Speed up the Learning Process

                              The ability to learn things quickly is a tremendous asset. People who can rapidly grasp new concepts, learn and apply new and effective skills, and process new information in a short amount of time have a distinct advantage over those who struggle to learn.

                              Is speed learning reserved for a select minority, endowed with the gift of intellect that few possess? Is it only available to the “geniuses” among us?

                              The answer is, “No.”

                              Every one of us can learn to learn faster, and there are a few simple tools that can help us. If these tools are committed to mastery through habit they will produce massive results in our ability to learn concepts faster, process new information in a shorter amount of time, and rapidly expand our abilities and knowledge.

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                              So, without delay, here are 5 hacks to speed up the learning process:

                              1. Focus on number of repetitions, not on the amount of time we practice.

                              When we say that we “studied for five hours straight,” we are often deceiving ourselves. How much of that five hours was spent in focused attention? How much time did we spend on distractions, like checking our email, or Facebook or Twitter? The key is not the length of time we spend when learning something. The key is the amount of learning repetitions that we engage in.

                              Repetition is one of the most powerful levers we have because it wires our brain. The power of repetition is well known by top performers, athletes, musicians, and the military. Time spent is not nearly as important as the number of reps.

                              So here is the first step: get rid of the watch. Instead, focus your attention on completing repetitions. Instead of saying, “I’ll study my notes for two hours,” say, “I’ll read my notes through, line by line, three times from start to finish.” This causes you to focus your attention on results. It also eliminates the “illusion of effectiveness” because you can’t fool yourself. Either you completed the task, or you didn’t.

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                              2. Break everything down into small chunks.

                              Author and talent expert Daniel Coyle, in his best-selling book, The Talent Code, says that “chunks are to skill what the letters of the alphabet are to language. Alone, each is nearly useless, but when combined into bigger chunks (words), and when those chunks are combined into still bigger things (sentences, paragraphs), they can build something complex and beautiful.” Chunking is important because it is the way that our brain learns. Every skill or piece of knowledge that we attain is comprised of many smaller pieces, or chunks, of information.

                              One of the first things that we should do when attempting to learn something new is to break the material or task down into many small chunks. Do it for the entire task or material. What we are left with then is a whole bunch of small chunks. Once this is done we proceed to step three.

                              3. Perfect each chunk and then create a “chunk chain.”

                              Now that we have a whole bunch of chunks we can then proceed to master each individual chunk on its own. This is what we focus our repetitions on (see step 1). The task or skill that we are trying to learn is comprised of a whole bunch of smaller parts. We have determined what those smaller parts consist of, now we just perfect each part on its own, and as we perfect the parts we form a chunk chain. This is where we start to build on each chunk with another chunk, and over time we will completely master the entire process.

                              Most importantly, by doing it this way, we will find that we master the process much quicker than if we tried to memorize the entire task on its own. Thus, since we have built a chunk chain, we can see how each individual piece is related to the other pieces. This gives us a complex understanding of the task or material and allows us quick recall ability in the future.

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                              4. Turn the learning process into a game, with rules and rewards.

                              We like games and our brain likes games. When learning becomes an enjoyable game, time stands still, and we immerse ourselves in repetitions of the material. So if we are trying to learn something new, an effective strategy is to “game it.” Create a game that we can play. Set the rules to the game, and create a rewards systems (this is another very important thing as the brain loves rewards).

                              Rewards are at the foundation of habit formation, as noted by Charles Duhigg in his best-selling book, The Power of Habit. Once a behavior becomes a habit we perform it much easier and faster. If we can create a reward system based on a game from the learning process, then we can crystallize learning as a habit and we will learn faster. Daniel Coyle, concerning the importance of games in learning also notes:

                              The term “drill” evokes a sense of drudgery and meaninglessness. It’s mechanical, repetitive, and boring—as the saying goes, drill and kill. Games, on the other hand, are precisely the opposite. They mean fun, connectedness, and passion. And because of that, skills improve faster when they’re looked at this way.

                              5. Repeat “focus bursts,” where we give our very best effort for a short period of time, then take fulfilling and refreshing breaks.

                              There are multiple studies that confirm that proper rest increases brain functioning. The typical, caffeine-induced, late night cramming session that most students engage in at least once in their life is not the most effective way to learn.

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                              In fact, there is evidence to suggest that it is the least effective way. If we want to learn something quickly, we need to do it when our minds are fresh. We need to engage in “focus bursts” where, with fresh energy and a well-rested mind, we focus all our attention on learning, perfecting, and linking the chunks (see step 3). Then, when we start to feel our effectiveness dissipate, we take breaks to recharge.

                              Focus burst, recharge, focus burst, recharge. Over and over again. This is the way to speed up the learning process. Long study sessions are not as effective as short bursts.

                              In long sessions, we are prone to distraction, and we are also prone to focusing on time rather than repetitions. However, if we will train ourselves to learn like a top athlete trains (in smaller, high intensity chunks) we will be very happy with the results that we get.

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                              Featured photo credit: Thought Catalog via unsplash.com

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