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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

                              Elena is a passionate blogger who shares about lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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                              Last Updated on January 6, 2021

                              14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

                              14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

                              Everyone has heard the term productivity, and people talk about it in terms of how high it is and how to improve it. But fewer know how to measure productivity, or even what exactly we are talking about when using the term “productivity.”

                              In its simplest form, the productivity formula looks like this: Output ÷ Input = Productivity.

                              For example, you have two salespeople each making 10 calls to customers per week. The first one averages 2 sales per week and the second one averages 3 sales per week. By plugging in the numbers we get the following productivity levels for each sales person.

                              For salesperson one, the output is 2 sales and the input is 10 sales: 2 ÷ 10 = .2 or 20% productivity. For salesperson two, the output is 3 sales and the input is 10 sales: 3 ÷ 10 = .3 or 30% productivity.

                              Knowing how to measure and interpret productivity is an invaluable asset for any manager or business owner in today’s world. As an example, in the above scenario, salesperson #1 is clearly not doing as well as salesperson #2.

                              Knowing this information we can now better determine what course of action to take with salesperson #1.

                              Some possible outcomes might be to require more in-house training for that salesperson, or to have them accompany the more productive salesperson to learn a better technique. It might be that salesperson #1 just isn’t suited for sales and would do a better job in a different position.

                              How to Measure Productivity With Management Techniques

                              Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to fine tune your business by minimizing costs and maximizing profits:

                              1. Identify Long and Short-Term Goals

                              Having a good understanding of what you (or your company’s) goals are is key to measuring productivity.

                              For example, if your company’s goal is to maximize market share, you’ll want to measure your team’s productivity by their ability to acquire new customers, not necessarily on actual sales made.

                              2. Break Down Goals Into Smaller Weekly Objectives

                              Your long-term goal might be to get 1,000 new customers in a year. That’s going to be 20 new customers per week. If you have 5 people on your team, then each one needs to bring in 4 new customers per week.

                              Now that you’ve broken it down, you can track each person’s productivity week-by-week just by plugging in the numbers:

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                              Productivity = number of new customers ÷ number of sales calls made

                              3. Create a System

                              Have you ever noticed that whenever you walk into a McDonald’s, the French fry machine is always to your left? 

                              This is because McDonald’s created a system. They have determined that the most efficient way to set up a kitchen is to always have the French fry machine on the left when you walk in.

                              You can do the same thing and just adapt it to your business.

                              Let’s say that you know that your most productive salespeople are making the most sales between the hours of 3 and 7 pm. If the other salespeople are working from 9 am to 4 pm, you can potentially increase productivity through something as simple as adjusting the workday.

                              Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to set up, monitor, and fine tune systems to maximize output.

                              4. Evaluate, Evaluate, Evaluate!

                              We’ve already touched on using these productivity numbers to evaluate and monitor your employees, but don’t forget to evaluate yourself using these same measurements.

                              If you have set up a system to track and measure employees’ performance, but you’re still not meeting goals, it may be time to look at your management style. After all, your management is a big part of the input side of our equation.

                              Are you more of a carrot or a stick type of manager? Maybe you can try being more of the opposite type to see if that changes productivity. Are you managing your employees as a group? Perhaps taking a more one-on-one approach would be a better way to utilize each individual’s strengths and weaknesses.

                              Just remember that you and your management style contribute directly to your employees’ productivity.

                              5. Use a Ratings Scale

                              Having clear and concise objectives for individual employees is a crucial part of any attempt to increase workplace productivity. Once you have set the goals or objectives, it’s important that your employees are given regular feedback regarding their progress.

                              Using a ratings scale is a good way to provide a standardized visual representation of progress. Using a scale of 1-5 or 1-10 is a good way to give clear and concise feedback on an individual basis.

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                              It’s also a good way to track long-term progress and growth in areas that need improvement.

                              6. Hire “Mystery Shoppers”

                              This is especially helpful in retail operations where customer service is critical. A mystery shopper can give feedback based on what a typical customer is likely to experience.

                              You can hire your own shopper, or there are firms that will provide them for you. No matter which route you choose, it’s important that the mystery shoppers have a standardized checklist for their evaluation.

                              You can request evaluations for your employees friendliness, how long it took to greet the shopper, employees’ knowledge of the products or services, and just about anything else that’s important to a retail operation.

                              7. Offer Feedback Forms

                              Using a feedback form is a great way to get direct input from existing customers. There are just a couple of things to keep in mind when using feedback forms.

                              First, keep the form short, 2-3 questions max with a space for any additional comments. Asking people to fill out a long form with lots of questions will significantly reduce the amount of information you receive.

                              Secondly, be aware that customers are much more likely to submit feedback forms when they are unhappy or have a complaint than when they are satisfied.

                              You can offset this tendency by asking everyone to take the survey at the end of their interaction. This will increase compliance and give you a broader range of customer experiences, which will help as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

                              8. Track Cost Effectiveness

                              This is a great metric to have, especially if your employees have some discretion over their budgets. You can track how much each person spends and how they spend it against their productivity.

                              Again, this one is easy to plug into the equation: Productivity = amount of money brought in ÷ amount of money spent.

                              Having this information is very useful in forecasting expenses and estimating budgets.

                              9. Use Self-Evaluations

                              Asking your staff to do self evaluations can be a win-win for everyone. Studies have shown that when employees feel that they are involved and their input is taken seriously, morale improves. And as we all know, high employee morale translates into higher productivity.

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                              Using self-evaluations is also a good way to make sure that the employees and employers goals are in alignment.

                              10. Monitor Time Management

                              This is the number one killer of productivity in the workplace. Time spent browsing the internet, playing games, checking email, and making personal calls all contribute to lower productivity[1].

                              Time Management Tips to Improve Productivity

                                The trick is to limit these activities without becoming overbearing and affecting morale. Studies have shown that most people will adhere to rules that they feel are fair and applied to everyone equally.

                                While ideally, we may think that none of these activities should be done on company time, employees will almost certainly have a different opinion. From a productivity standpoint, it is best to have policies and rules that are seen as fair to both sides as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

                                11. Analyze New Customer Acquisition

                                We’ve all heard the phrase that “It’s more expensive to get a new customer than it is to keep an existing one.” And while that is very true, in order for your business to keep growing, you will need to continually add new customers.

                                Knowing how to measure productivity via new customer acquisition will make sure that your marketing dollars are being spent in the most efficient way possible. This is another metric that’s easy to plug into the formula: Productivity = number of new customers ÷ amount of money spent to acquire those customers.

                                For example, if you run any kind of advertising campaign, you can compare results and base your future spending accordingly.

                                Let’s say that your total advertising budget is $3,000. You put $2,000 into television ads, $700 into radio ads, and $300 into print ads. When you track the results, you find that your television ad produced 50 new customers, your radio ad produced 15 new customers, and your print ad produced 9 new customers.

                                Let’s plug those numbers into our equation. Television produced 50 new customers at a cost of $2,000 (50 ÷ 2000 = .025, or a productivity rate of 2.5%). The radio ads produced 15 new customers and cost $700 (15 ÷ 700 = .022, or a 2.2% productivity rate). Print ads brought in 9 new customers and cost $300 (9 ÷ 300 = .03, or a 3% return on productivity).

                                From this analysis, it is clear that you would be getting the biggest bang for your advertising dollar using print ads.

                                12. Utilize Peer Feedback

                                This is especially useful when people who work in teams or groups. While self-assessments can be very useful, the average person is notoriously bad at assessing their own abilities.

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                                Just ask a room full of people how many consider themselves to be an above average driver and you’ll see 70% of the hands go up[2]! Now we clearly know that in reality about 25% of drivers are below average, 25% are above average, and 50% are average.

                                Are all these people lying? No, they just don’t have an accurate assessment of their own abilities.

                                It’s the same in the workplace. Using peer feedback will often provide a more accurate assessment of a person’s ability than a self-assessment would.

                                13. Encourage Innovation and Don’t Penalize Failure

                                When it comes to productivity, encouraging employee input and adopting their ideas can be a great way to boost productivity. Just make sure that any changes you adopt translate into higher productivity.

                                Let’s say that someone comes to you requesting an entertainment budget so that they can take potential customers golfing or out to dinner. By utilizing simple productivity metrics, you can easily produce a cost benefit analysis and either expand the program to the rest of the sales team, or terminate it completely.

                                Either way, you have gained valuable knowledge and boosted morale by including employees in the decision-making process.

                                14. Use an External Evaluator

                                Using an external evaluator is the pinnacle of objective evaluations. Firms that provide professional evaluations use highly trained personnel that even specialize in specific industries.

                                They will design a complete analysis of your business’ productivity level. In their final report, they will offer suggestions and recommendations on how to improve productivity.

                                While the benefits of a professional evaluation are many, their costs make them prohibitive for most businesses.

                                Final Thoughts

                                These are just a few of the things you can do when learning how to measure productivity. Some may work for your particular situation, and some may not.

                                The most important thing to remember when deciding how to track productivity is to choose a method consistent with your goals. Once you’ve decided on that, it’s just a matter of continuously monitoring your progress, making minor adjustments, and analyzing the results of those adjustments.

                                The business world is changing fast, and having the right tools to track and monitor your productivity can give you the edge over your competition.

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                                Featured photo credit: William Iven via unsplash.com

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