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11 Tools for Productive Individuals

11 Tools for Productive Individuals

There are hundreds of thousands of productivity tools to choose from. Auditing each of them is the hardest part of the selection process.

Just searching on the App Store and Google Play Store will force you to scroll endlessly, each app showcasing a different form of functionality/ promise of results. I am of the belief that productivity apps can help an individual move forward and complete their tasks.

We have the choice, in the 21st century, to use these apps at our own leisure. With or without them, productivity is key to managing your time, organisation and stress. For those individuals looking for useful and simple productivity tools to use across their day, I recommend these 11 tools to get you started:

1. Todoist

Todoist is something that I’ve been using for around 2 years now and it’s something I recommend to a lot of people. Todoist is a task management service at heart. Essentially with Todoist you can upload any ideas about tasks that need to be completed, adding key dates, labels, notes, comments and even project folders to make the task at hand easier to complete. The service is used by over 5 million people across all of their platforms (iOS to Chromebook).

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    Todoist is fantastic for organizing all your thoughts, planned actions, and keeping all those must-do ideas stored. A notable feature is something called ‘Intelligent Input’: this allows you to input tasks using a simple, quick and intelligent sentence format, (hence the name). This is perfect for individuals, professionals and even teams to help them get things done. Give it a try on iOS and Android, Mac or PC.

    2. Sunrise Calendar

    Sunrise is a calendar application on iOS and Android (and also PC and Mac) that allows individuals to bring their calendar together. If you love Google Calendar, use Eventbrite, or Wunderlist for your tasks, Sunrise allows you to have all of your social and calendar accounts accessible in one location. With such a range of connected services (over 20), Sunrise could easily become your hub for all event and activity tracking.

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      I really recommend using their iOS and Android App – this allows you to connect your keyboard to your calendar. From any app you’ll be able to suggest event times to people by sending a simple link. It really works great and it’s something I’m using on a daily basis to organize meetings with speed and accuracy.

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      3. Evernote

      Evernote has been a long time friend of mine. It’s a service that allows you to collect all your thoughts, ideas, meeting notes, lecture notes and so much more. Evernote is the ultimate note-taking application and my second brain – literally.

      Notebook-2

        If you are looking to really boost productivity across your day I would highly recommend Evernote. Whether you’re looking to simply create articles, or create shopping lists, I would recommend using Evernote. It’s also very useful when creating new projects. By using notebooks and stacks you’ll stay organized throughout your day.

        Evernote also has some fantastic plug-in services that allow you to capture articles, edit PDFs and even share your work with colleagues. Get Evernote now!

        4. Podcasts on iTunes

        Podcasts are such an underrated productivity tool. When people are driving to work, running a short 3-4km or are on their train commute to work, podcasts can come into play,

        These short burst of 10, 20 and 30 minutes can easily be optimized by listening to podcasts. I would highly recommend following people in the podcast community, such as:

        Their podcasts are truly fantastic in content and quality.

        5. Sleep Cycle app

        I’ve been using the Sleep Cycle app for the last 9-10 months and I think its such a fantastic tool. I’ve recently moved to wearing a Fitbit Charge HR to track my activity and health but I continue to rely on this app to wake me up in the mornings at the optimum time.

        The app uses motion detection overnight to monitor the progress of your sleep, and it wakes you up at the optimum time. Don’t worry, you can set an alarm- but what it will do is calculate the best time for you to wake up based on your REM around that alarm time. After that long sleep, you’ll able to access your sleep data gathered over time, allowing you to further develop positive sleep habits.

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        Screenshot 2015-09-02 at 21.38.13

          It’s £0.69 on the App Store, but this is such a fantastic investment for individuals looking to boost their morning routines and morning happiness.

          Download it here.

          6. FlashSticks

          I’ve recently decided to take on learning some French and Spanish. Every day I get to work alongside some fantastic native speakers, but when I’m not asking them what “tea” and “cucumber” are in French or Spanish, I’m hunting for apps that can help me on the go.

          Test speech

            I’ve been using FlashSticks, a new app that allows you to scan any object and translate it into over 25 languages. This has become super useful when I’m wanting to learn new pieces of vocabulary. It’s very accurate, which is great!

            It also has categories where I can learn more about new words with videos, memory challenges, useful sentences, grammar tips and audio support too. I’m learning more than ever using the new App and saving a lot of time being pushed to learn all of the vocabulary for family members before moving onto the cool stuff. It’s worth downloading to increase your productivity with language learning.

            They also do some fantastic language Post-it® Notes that I have stuck around my house.

            Available on iOS and Android.

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            7. Google Photos

            Google Photos is something I would recommend to anyone with a smartphone. I hear a lot of people complain about losing all their photos in a phone crash, when they dropped their phone in the toilet or when they had to delete their moments because of lack of memory.

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              Google Photos takes all your photos from Camera Roll or Gallery and backs them up. There is unlimited storage for standard size photos. From the App you can share, re-download the images, organize them; and Google will automatically “auto-enhance” them, by making them a little more attractive, and adding small fixes to the image. This saves me so much time when I’m coming back from an event and looking to share my photos with the attendees.

              There is also an option to back up full resolution imagery over 16MP, which is perfect for photography fans. You get 15GB of storage with this option.

              Download the app on Android and iOS.

              8. Google Inbox

              Google Inbox is an email client I’ve been using over the last few months to keep emails organised. Google Inbox allows you to browse your emails using simple gestures, schedule emails for later, clear emails from your tray and organised them in bulk with Inbox. I’m able to get to inbox zero in the space of 10 minutes with this clever gesture app.

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                I would recommend this for individuals looking to be more productive with their emails. However, if you get more than 50 emails a day, replying can be awkward on this app. It’s available on iOS and Android.

                9. Rescue time

                Rescue Time is a service that allows you to track your internet usage. This becomes very useful across your day/week/month by giving you feedback on how productive you have been during your time online. This continuous data collection can be insightful when you’re looking to find an odd 30 minutes to use for exercise, relaxation, or any other task.

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                Rescuetime gives you ratings based on your activity and data-driven feedback on how productive or unproductive you were during your time spent online.

                Get Rescuetime today!

                10. Todoed

                Todoed is a Chrome extension that I came across in early 2015. It allows you to create tasks from the text on your page. By simply dragging on a piece of text, you can create an action, and even assign it to other people in your team that are on Todoed.

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                  This really has interested me as it is a very simple method for boosting productivity, however, it can have a very useful effect on your day. For example, through simply seeing a message like “Can you check the app downloads?” – I could select “check the app downloads” and save it as a “to do” for later. Imagining the future developments of the application over time, I have huge faith in the product growing.

                  Download the App.

                  11. Swipes App

                  Swipes app is another task manager application, very similar to todoed and Todoist in action, allowing you to keep a constant track of tasks as you go through your day. Swipes allows you to track tasks, monitor your productivity and also schedule tasks for later. It works on Web, iOS, Android and Mac.

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                    It is one of my highly recommended task management applications thanks to its very fluid design, style and organisation. I recommend Swipes for creatives, entrepreneurs and individuals looking to take a fun and engaging approach to productivity. It’s available from their website.

                    Featured photo credit: FlashSticks via twitter.com

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                    Last Updated on September 20, 2018

                    8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

                    8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

                    You go to the gym to train your muscles. You run outside or go for hikes to train your endurance. Or, maybe you do neither of those, but still wish you exercised more.

                    Well, here is how to train one of the most important parts of your body: your brain.

                    When you train your brain, you will:

                    • Avoid embarrassing situations. You remember his face, but what was his name?
                    • Be a faster learner in all sorts of different skills. No problem for you to pick up a new language or new management skill.
                    • Avoid diseases that hit as you get older. Alzheimer’s will not be affecting you.

                    So how to train your brain and improve your cognitive skills?

                    1. Work your memory

                    Twyla Tharp, a NYC-based renowned choreographer has come up with the following memory workout:

                    When she watches one of her performances, she tries to remember the first twelve to fourteen corrections she wants to discuss with her cast without writing them down.

                    If you think this is anything less than a feat, then think again. In her book The Creative Habit she says that most people cannot remember more than three.

                    The practice of both remembering events or things and then discussing them with others has actually been supported by brain fitness studies.

                    Memory activities that engage all levels of brain operation—receiving, remembering and thinking—help to improve the function of the brain.

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                    Now, you may not have dancers to correct, but you may be required to give feedback on a presentation, or your friends may ask you what interesting things you saw at the museum. These are great opportunities to practically train your brain by flexing your memory muscles.

                    What is the simplest way to help yourself remember what you see? Repetition.

                    For example, say you just met someone new:

                    “Hi, my name is George”

                    Don’t just respond with, “Nice to meet you”. Instead, say, “Nice to meet you George.”

                    Got it? Good.

                    2. Do something different repeatedly

                    By actually doing something new over and over again, your brain wires new pathways that help you do this new thing better and faster.

                    Think back to when you were three years old. You surely were strong enough to hold a knife and a fork just fine. Yet, when you were eating all by yourself, you were creating a mess.

                    It was not a matter of strength, you see. It was a matter of cultivating more and better neural pathways that would help you eat by yourself just like an adult does.

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                    And guess what? With enough repetition you made that happen!

                    But how does this apply to your life right now?

                    Say you are a procrastinator. The more you don’t procrastinate, the more you teach your brain not to wait for the last minute to make things happen.

                    Now, you might be thinking “Duh, if only not procrastinating could be that easy!”

                    Well, it can be. By doing something really small, that you wouldn’t normally do, but is in the direction of getting that task done, you will start creating those new precious neural pathways.

                    So if you have been postponing organizing your desk, just take one paper and put in its right place. Or, you can go even smaller. Look at one piece of paper and decide where to put it: Trash? Right cabinet? Another room? Give it to someone?

                    You don’t actually need to clean up that paper; you only need to decide what you need to do with it.

                    That’s how small you can start. And yet, those neural pathways are still being built. Gradually, you will transform yourself from a procrastinator to an in-the-moment action taker.

                    3. Learn something new

                    It might sound obvious, but the more you use your brain, the better its going to perform for you.

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                    For example, learning a new instrument improves your skill of translating something you see (sheet music) to something you actually do (playing the instrument).

                    Learning a new language exposes your brain to a different way of thinking, a different way of expressing yourself.

                    You can even literally take it a step further, and learn how to dance. Studies indicate that learning to dance helps seniors avoid Alzheimer’s. Not bad, huh?

                    4. Follow a brain training program

                    The Internet world can help you improve your brain function while lazily sitting on your couch. A clinically proven program like BrainHQ can help you improve your memory, or think faster, by just following their brain training exercises.

                    5. Work your body

                    You knew this one was coming didn’t you? Yes indeed, exercise does not just work your body; it also improves the fitness of your brain.

                    Even briefly exercising for 20 minutes facilitates information processing and memory functions. But it’s not just that–exercise actually helps your brain create those new neural connections faster. You will learn faster, your alertness level will increase, and you get all that by moving your body.

                    Now, if you are not already a regular exerciser, and already feel guilty that you are not helping your brain by exercising more, try a brain training exercise program like Exercise Bliss.

                    Remember, just like we discussed in #2, by training your brain to do something new repeatedly, you are actually changing yourself permanently.

                    6. Spend time with your loved ones

                    If you want optimal cognitive abilities, then you’ve got to have meaningful relationships in your life.  Talking with others and engaging with your loved ones helps you think more clearly, and it can also lift your mood.

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                    If you are an extrovert, this holds even more weight for you. At a class at Stanford University, I learned that extroverts actually use talking to other people as a way to understand and process their own thoughts.

                    I remember that the teacher told us that after a personality test said she was an extrovert, she was surprised. She had always thought of herself as an introvert. But then, she realized how much talking to others helped her frame her own thoughts, so she accepted her new-found status as an extrovert.

                    7. Avoid crossword puzzles

                    Many of us, when we think of brain fitness, think of crossword puzzles. And it’s true–crossword puzzles do improve our fluency, yet studies show they are not enough by themselves.

                    Are they fun? Yes. Do they sharpen your brain? Not really.

                    Of course, if you are doing this for fun, then by all means go ahead. If you are doing it for brain fitness, then you might want to choose another activity

                    8. Eat right – and make sure dark chocolate is included

                    Foods like fish, fruits, and vegetables help your brain perform optimally. Yet, you might not know that dark chocolate gives your brain a good boost as well.

                    When you eat chocolate, your brain produces dopamine. And dopamine helps you learn faster and remember better. Not to mention, chocolate contains flavonols, antioxidants, which also improve your brain functions.

                    So next time you have something difficult to do, make sure you grab a bite or two of dark chocolate!

                    The bottom line

                    Now that you know how to train your brain, it’s actually time to start doing.

                    Don’t just consume this content and then go on with your life as if nothing has changed. Put this knowledge into action and become smarter than ever!

                    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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