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10 Mini Productivity Hacks To Ease Your Life

10 Mini Productivity Hacks To Ease Your Life

We probably live in the busiest and most distracting time in history, and all the tasks we have to accomplish each day can be really difficult to complete when it’s hard to focus.

Everyone wants to be more productive, but many people don’t know where to start. Or worse, they think the key to productivity involves doing things that look like a major lifestyle shift.

The good news, however, is that there are many small things you can do to make your life easier and more productive. Here are ten mini productivity hacks that you can start using today.

1. Post Your Three Most Important Tasks

One of the key things to realize about productivity is that not every task we have on our plates is equally important. In fact, if we start listing out our tasks and assigning a number next to each one to denote their level of importance, we’ll likely discover several tasks we’re responsible for that we honestly shouldn’t spend valuable time on.

If you want to boost your productivity and get more done, a simple trick to start out with is making a list of the day’s tasks and determine the top three tasks that you simply must complete before the day is up.

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Write the top three down on a sticky note and have it in front of you all day so that you’re frequently reminded of what you’re working toward and what has to be completed by the end of the day.

2. Pomodoro Technique

The Pomodoro Technique is a simple productivity strategy in which you pick one task you’re going to focus on without distraction and without stopping for 25 minutes straight. The key to the technique is to use a timer. Once the timer rings after 25 minutes, you take a 5-minute break before launching into another 25-minute session of a task.

The Pomodoro Technique works well because your mind isn’t as opposed to focusing on something for 25 minutes as it is for much longer periods of time. Your mind thinks, “Okay. I can do this,” knowing that a break is coming up in 25 minutes. Many people who try this find that they achieve more during their 25-minute chunks than they do at any other un-tracked time of the day.

3. Block Distractions

Distractions, such as unimportant emails or social media posts, can be the number one killer of productivity. When you have tasks that you need to focus on, you need a quick and easy way to eliminate distractions so that your productivity doesn’t suffer.

Before you start a task, put your phone on Do Not Disturb mode and use a service like Freedom on your computer to completely block out the Internet for a set period of time.

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4. Track Your Time

Ever considered how you use the precious amount of time you have available each day? If you’re not tracking how you typically use your time each day, you should because you’ll probably discover a few things that are simply stealing your time.

Track how much time you spend on your smartphone by using an app like aTimeLogger to track where your time is spent.

Do the same thing with your computer by using an app that runs in the background like RescueTime. You may find yourself disappointed in the way you’ve spent your time, which should act as motivation to try harder next time.

5. Show Up Early

If you have a job that you have to be at anyway, why not show up a few minutes early and use the time to chip away at some of your important tasks. Showing up early puts you where you need to be when the time for work comes, but it’s also a convenient way to open up productivity time, because even a small amount of time can help you to be more productive if you use it wisely and remain focused.

6. Practice the Two Minute Rule

This small simple hack has been suggested by David Allen, the author of the highly popular book about productivity Getting Things Done.

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Here’s what it comes down to: when you know you can perform a task in two minutes or less, you should do it immediately. This makes sense. Why save something that will only take you a couple minutes for later? Get it out of the way so that you’ll have more time later for the more time-consuming tasks on your list.

7. Automate What You Can

Many people have discovered the web automation service IFTTT (If This Then That) to automate some of the tasks they go through each day. IFTTT uses “recipes” to set triggers and the results that follow those triggers.

For example, if you miss a call, you can use a recipe to have a reminder created that will alert you later on to return the call. You could have your daily task list emailed to you at a certain time each morning to get you mentally oriented for the day’s tasks or have the Tweets you favorite during your downtime saved to your Evernote for viewing later.

The key to making automation work is to try some different recipes and see what works for you.

8. Write it Down

One of the most simple hacks you can begin practicing today is to write things down. In fact, it’s one of the key factors that Sir Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin Group, attributes to his personal and professional success.

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The act of writing things down, such a list of the tasks we have to accomplish or the processes we have to go through, helps your brain to more easily keep those things in mind as you’re working toward your goals.

9. Learn to Say No

If not every task on your plate is equally important and you discover that some tasks just aren’t worth the time you have available, don’t just do everything anyway.

One of the most powerful things you can ever do is to learn the fine art of saying no. If a task doesn’t help you to be productive and reach your personal or professional goals, why put it on your list?

10. Take Time to Recharge

Don’t underestimate the value of a good night’s sleep. When you work yourself late into the night trying to get tasks completed, you only rob yourself of the ability to give the next day’s tasks your peak performance because you’re not properly rested.

Remember that not every task you do is equally important, and none of your tasks are worth losing valuable recharging time over. Start using some of these mini productivity hacks today and watch your productivity increase while your stress decreases.

Featured photo credit: Laptop On Work Desk With Paper/Ed Gregory via stokpic.com

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Last Updated on November 5, 2019

5 Learning Management Systems (LMS) for Effective Learning

5 Learning Management Systems (LMS) for Effective Learning

Businesses rely on talent to generate and sell value. Without skilled people to create its products, manage its operations and execute its strategies, a business would inevitably fizzle out of the game and leave better-staffed competitors to take the field.

This is the reason why ambitious companies go great lengths to attract top talent,[1] shelling out millions of dollars in the process and bending traditional work policies just to bring highly skilled but demanding candidates into the fold.

Clearly, the contours of business are changing. But so are the demographics of work.

Millennials have become the dominant generation in the job market in terms of population, and some have already transitioned into leadership roles. Most millennials consider opportunity to learn and grow more important than overall compensation.[2]

Companies also today expect employees to come equipped with razor sharp business acumen.[3] Unfortunately, there is an alarming discrepancy between the actual skills businesses need and those currently possessed by job candidates.

To stay in the game, employers need to continually upgrade their training and skills development strategies to cover the entire employee lifecycle.

What are Learning Management Systems (LMS)?

Learning management systems are software-based solutions for authoring, presenting, consuming, storing, and tracking educational content and training materials. These systems aim to centralize all instructional content (e.g., lessons, training modules, instructional videos, presentation slides, worksheets, online quizzes, ebooks, takeaway notes, etc.) in one place.

LMS enable instructors to design and deliver learning experiences to students, with the added capability of evaluating the effectiveness of the instructional materials and grading the learning progress of students.

On the other side of the equation, learners use LMS to develop skills and acquire new knowledge virtually anytime and anywhere via the different channels and content formats made possible by digital technology.

Over the years, a wide range of features and technologies have been integrated into learning management systems to help enhance the experience of training designers, instructors, and learners. These include cloud and mobile technology, artificial intelligence, responsive design, scheduling, gamification, data analytics, and interoperability with other applications.

5 Best All-Purpose Learning Management Systems

There are dozens of LMS vendors catering to the general market or to specific segments such as K-12 learning, higher education, and corporate training.

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With so many options available, selecting the right LMS solution for your needs can be complicated and costly, especially when you end up adopting a platform that doesn’t exactly match your goals or requirements.

Short of conducting a comprehensive audit of your needs and finalizing a learning roadmap, the safest bet would be to adopt full-featured but affordable LMS solutions.

Based on user reviews, here are the 5 best LMS to help people gain knowledge, build skills, and achieve mastery:

1. Canvas Network

Launched by Instructure as an open source software in 2011, Canvas is an end-to-end cloud-based service originally engineered for the education sector.

Widely adopted for K-12 and Higher Ed learning, Canvas can be repurposed for anything that involves an instructor, a subject matter, and a student.

Used around the world by people of all ages and organizations of all types, Canvas arguably has the largest learning and support community in its class. It works on desktop computers, tablets and mobile phones.

To get a glimpse of the platform’s fresh interfaces, you can visit the Canvas Network, a learning community that provides educational and instructional materials created by colleges, universities, corporate businesses, independent course developers, and other knowledge-sharing entities around the world.

Hosting hundreds of interesting topics from data science to horticulture, the learning network also serves as evidence to the scope, capabilities, and popularity of the Canvas LMS platform.

Canvas is hosted on Amazon Web Services (AWS) infrastructure, which enhances the platform’s reliability, speed, scalability, and overall online performance.

Additionally, platform adopters enjoy a low-risk environment since cloud-based solutions require no hard stops for version updates, upgrades, or system migrations.

The Canvas website does not show a price matrix but says the service adopts a simple formula for computing fees: a one-time implementation fee and an annual subscription fee based on total number of users. It also promises free basic services for teachers who want to use the platform.

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In addition to Canvas, Instructure also offers Bridge (an LMS designed for corporate environments), Arc (a video platform for online learning), and Gauge (an assessment management system).

Check out this video if you want to learn more about Canvas Network:

2. Google Classroom

This free service from Google aims to improve the teaching and learning process using cloud technology, web apps, workflow simplification, and seamless communication between students and instructors.

Using Classroom, educators can easily create and schedule classes, distribute assignments, send feedback, and grade quizzes all in one place. By streamlining processes, Classroom helps teachers save time and organize classes more effectively. Both students and teachers can also work using any device anytime and anywhere.

Classroom works perfectly with other Google tools, having been launched initially as part of Google’s G Suite for Education. This LMS solution taps Google Drive for content storage and distribution, as well as Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides for the creation and sharing of instructional materials. Meanwhile it integrates Google Calendar for scheduling and Gmail for communication.

With G Suite, other communication channels such as chat messaging, video conferencing, and a dedicated website are enabled.

Easy to set up and manage, Google Classroom is free to use. One of my very first courses was actually hosted on Google Classroom.

Going beyond the classroom environment, Google offers G Suite Enterprise for Education for large institutions. This suite provides enhanced search and analytics capabilities as well as advanced tools for enterprise communications.

3. Moodle (Modular Object-Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment)

If budget and capability equally top your list of LMS adoption criteria, then Moodle might just fit the bill. Which is to say there’s none (i.e., bill).

Moodle is a free and open-source learning solution for distance education, workplace training, flipped classrooms, and other pedagogical environments.

It is also a full-featured LMS supported by a robust community and a thriving developer ecosystem. Not surprisingly, Moodle is used in more than 15 million courses by more than 130 million users in 230+ countries.

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Among other things, Moodle enables administrators and educators to create a dynamic and dedicated website to host organic, easily accessible, and highly customizable courses that can be experienced on desktops and mobile devices anytime and anywhere.

Moodle provides a personalized and intuitive dashboard as well as a host of collaboration tools for content designers, teachers, and learners. A universal calendar, an efficient file management system, an automatic notification system, multimedia integration, and a progress tracking tool all come with the package.

Check out this video if you want to learn more about Moodle:

4. Absorb

This platform recently bagged PC Magazine’s Editors’ Choice Award for Best LMS.

Co-designed and built by former course authors, Absorb takes learning experience to the next level. This turnkey LMS solution is responsive, full-featured, and highly customizable for maximum impact.

Course developers can orchestrate a wide range of experiences depending on audience or learning situation. In addition to surveys, polls, and e-commerce integration, Absorb supports formal online learning and certifications standards such as AICC, SCORM, and Tin Can.

The user interface can also be modified to match the learner’s location, group, or department, allowing for a different look and feel for customers, channel partners, management trainees, and newly hired employees.

Absorb supports all personal computing devices from desktops to mobile phones. There are also native or hybrid apps for iOS and Android.

The only possible drawback to the platform’s powerful feature set is its pricing. The service reportedly implements a flat, one-time setup fee depending on your business and training requirements. According to the site, any plan comes with a dedicated success team for your account.

Although small companies are welcome to try, midsize to enterprise-scale organizations are probably the best segment to readily adopt this LMS solution.

Take a look at some examples of Absorb in this video:

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5. Watershed Collaborative

Created by a group of educators, this nonprofit rethinks the priorities of an LMS, asserting that too many systems miss the most essential elements of what makes learning stick. They promise a better user experience – emphasizing Learning before Management and System.

Watershed aims to support an inquiry-based learning experience through an integrated mix of online and in-person learning strategies and interactions designed expressly for teams – including collaboration, reflection, and dialogue.

While Watershed was founded initially to serve the K-12 education market, the company has since expanded its scope to cater to all types of teachers and learners with its video-rich, state-of-the-art platform.

If you’re a mission-driven educator, content creator, institution, or business, this LMS may be the one for you.

Watershed specializes in assisting you with the instructional design of courses and provides content production services to ensure top-quality video assets with lasting value. Their LMS makes it easy for course creators to continuously update and tailor content to support small and large groups, while ensuring the technology and instructional strategy supports communities of learners.

Pricing varies based on products and services, but revenues support the nonprofit’s ability to make its platform and courses available at little or no cost for high-need educators and educational settings.

Honorable Mentions

There are dozens of LMS vendors in this growing market and the brands included in foregoing list are by no means the only viable options for companies or learning institutions looking to upgrade their learning infrastructure.

Many other excellent services are worth checking out. These include:

  1. Docebo is an LMS designed for hyper-engaging students, employees, customers, and other learners. The system helps organizations identify and resolve competency gaps with strategic learning interventions.
  2. Cornerstone OnDemand is a talent, training, and performance management solution offered as an SaaS (Software-as-a-Service). This service enables learners to create personalized playlists of instructional content.
  3. Lessonly is an LMS solution that makes it easier to recall and reinforce whatever skills or knowledge you have learned through quizzes, coaching, and constant practice.
  4. Skillsoft is an online training and corporate learning platform developed by a two-decade old and billion-dollar company with the same name.
  5. D2L BrightSpace is a learning management system that has all the basics for delivering excellent, rich-media experiences for classroom or workplace training.

Conclusion

There are many ways to learn but some are more effective and meaningful than others. Whether you are a teacher looking to enhance classroom learning or an HR manager creating a long-term talent development plan for employees, the key to impactful learning is to understand and bridge the needs of learners, the goals of your institution, and the actual capabilities of the learning tools you are considering.

Note that using multiple LMS platforms is possible although not recommended. On the other hand, adopting other learning solutions beyond LMS (such as podcasts, mentoring, and onsite in-person workshops) may significantly improve learning outcomes. Always go for products and plugins that seamlessly integrate into your core LMS tool.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Reference

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