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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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                    Published on January 16, 2019

                    How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work

                    How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work

                    We’re all busy, but sometimes we go through periods where the work piles up and it seems like it might never end.

                    You might have such a heavy workload that it feels too intimidating to even start.

                    You may have said yes to some or too many projects, and now you’re afraid you won’t be able to deliver.

                    That’s when you need to take a step back, take a deep breath, and start looking at what’s working and what’s not working.

                    Here’re 13 strategies you can use to get out from under your overwhelming workload:

                    1. Acknowledge You Can’t Do It All

                    Many of us have a tendency to think we can do more than we actually can. We take on more and more projects and responsibility and wear numerous hats.

                    We all have the opportunity to have and take on more work than we can reasonably expect to get done. Unfortunately, our workload is not static. Even now, while you are reading this article, I’m guessing that your inbox is filling up with fresh new tasks.

                    To make real, effective progress, you have to have both the courage and resourcefulness to say, “This is not working”. Acknowledge that you can’t do it all and look for better solutions.

                    At any given time in your life, there are likely many things that aren’t going according to plan. You have to be willing to be honest with yourself and those around you about what’s not working for you, both personally and professionally.

                    The more you exercise your ability to tell the truth about what’s working and what’s not working, the faster you’ll make progress.

                    2. Focus on Your Unique Strengths

                    Whether you’re an entrepreneur, a leader or working as part of a team, every individual has unique strengths they can bring to the table.

                    The challenge is that many people end up doing things that they’re simply not very good at.

                    In the pursuit of reaching your goals or delivering a project, people end up doing everything themselves or taking on things that don’t play to their unique strengths. This can result in frustration, overwhelm and overwork.

                    It can mean projects taking a lot longer to complete because of knowledge gaps, or simply not utilizing the unique strengths of other people you work with.

                    It is often not about how to complete this project more effectively but who can help deliver this project.

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                    So, what are your unique strengths that will ensure your workload is delivered more effectively? Here’re some questions to help you reflect:

                    • Are you a great strategist?
                    • Are you an effective planner?
                    • Is Project Management your strength?
                    • Is communication and bringing people together your strength?
                    • Are you the ideas person?
                    • Is Implementation your strength?

                    Think about how you can bring the biggest value to your work and the projects you undertake.

                    3. Use the Strengths of Your Team

                    One of the simplest ways to manage your workload effectively is to free up your time so you bring your highest level of energy, focus and strengths to each project.

                    Delegation or better teamwork is the solution.

                    Everyone has unique strengths. It’s essential to think teamwork rather than working in isolation to ensure projects can be completed effectively. Besides, every time you give away a task or project that doesn’t play to your unique strengths, you open up an opportunity to do something you’re more talented at. This will empower both yourself and those around you.

                    Rather than taking on all the responsibilities yourself, look at who you can work with to deliver the best results possible.

                    4. Take Time for Planning

                    “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe”. – Abraham Lincoln

                    One hour of effective planning could save hours of time. Rather than just rushing in and getting started on projects, take the time to map everything in.

                    You can take the time to think about:

                    • What’s the purpose of the project?
                    • How Important is it?
                    • When does it need to be delivered by?
                    • What is the best result and worst result for this project?
                    • What are the KPIs?
                    • What does the project plan and key milestones look like?
                    • Who is working on this project?
                    • What is everyone’s responsibilities?
                    • What tolerances can I add in?
                    • What are the review stages?
                    • What are the challenges we may face and the solutions for these challenges?

                    Having absolute clarity on the project, the project deliverables and the result you want can save a lot of time. It also gets you clear on the priorities and timelines, so you can block out the required amount of time to focus and concentrate.

                    5. Focus on Priorities

                    Not everything is a priority, although it can often feel, in the moment, that it is.

                    Whatever you’re working on, there is always the Most Urgent, Important or Most Valuable projects or tasks.

                    One tool you can use to maximize your productivity and focus on your biggest priorities is to use the Eisenhower Matrix. This strategic tool for taking action on the things that matter most is simple. You separate your actions based on four possibilities:

                    1. Urgent and important (tasks you will do immediately).
                    2. Important, but not urgent (tasks you will schedule to do later).
                    3. Urgent, but not important (tasks you will delegate to someone else).
                    4. Neither urgent nor important (tasks that you will eliminate).

                    James Clear has a great description on how to use the Eisenhower Matrix: How to be More Productive By Using the Eisenhower Box

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                      The method I use with my coaching clients is to ask them to lay out their Top Five priorities for the day. Then to start with the most important priority first. At the end of the day, you review performance against these priorities.

                      If you didn’t get everything accomplished, start the next day with your number one priority.

                      If you are given additional task/projects during the day, then you will need to gauge their importance V the other priorities.

                      6. Take Time Out

                      To stay on top of a heavy workload, it’s important to take time out to rest and recuperate.

                      If your energy levels are high and your mind and body is refreshed and alert, you are in more of a peak state to handle a heavy workload.

                      Take time out of your day to go for a walk or get some exercise in. Leave early when possible and spend time with people who give you a lot of energy.

                      In the background, it’s essential to get a good night’s sleep and eat healthily to sharpen the mind.

                      Take a look at this article learn about The Importance of Scheduling Downtime.

                      7. Maintain a Healthy Work-Life Balance

                      Maintaining a healthy work-life balance can be tough. The balance we all crave is very different from one another.

                      I’ve written before about 13 Work Life Balance Tips for a Happy and Productive Life. Working longer and harder doesn’t mean achieving more, especially if you have no time to spend with the people that matter most. The quality of who you are as a person, the relationships you have, the time you spend in work, deciding on what matters most is completely within your control.

                      Work-life balance is about finding peace within yourself to be fully present, wherever you are, whether that be in the office or at home, right now. It’s about choosing what matters most and creating your own balanced life.

                      If you feel there is not enough balance, then it may be time to make a change.

                      8. Stop Multitasking

                      Multi-tasking is a myth. Your brain simply can’t work effectively by doing more than one thing at a time—at least more than one thing that requires focused attention.

                      So get your list of priorities (see earlier point), do the most important thing first, then move to the next item and work down your list.

                      When you split your focus over a multitude of different areas, you can’t consistently deliver a high performance. You won’t be fully present on the one task or project at hand.

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                      If you allocate blocked time and create firm boundaries for specific activities and commitments, you won’t feel so overwhelmed or overworked with everything you have to do.

                      9. Work in Blocks of Time

                      To keep your energy up to produce your best results it’s essential to take regular breaks.

                      I use the 60-60-30 method myself and teach it to my coaching clients.

                      Work on a project for a sustained period of 50 minutes.

                      Then take a 10-minute break. This could be taking a walk, having a healthy snack or just having a conversation with someone.

                      Then continue to work on the project for a further 50 minutes.

                      Then take another 10-minute break.

                      Then take a complete 30-minute break to unplug from the work. This could be time for a proper lunch, a quick bit of exercise, reading or having a walk.

                      By simply taking some time out, your energy levels stay up, the quality of your work improves and you reduce the risk of becoming burned out.

                      10. Get Rid of Distractions

                      Make an estimation on how many times you are distracted during an average working day. Now take that number and multiply it by 25. According to Gloria Mark in her study on The Cost of Interrupted Work, it takes us an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to return to the original task after interruption.[1]

                      “Our research has shown that attention distraction can lead to higher stress, a bad mood and lower productivity.”

                      Distractions don’t just take up your time during the distraction, they can derail your mental progress and focus for almost 25 minutes. So, if you are distracted 5 times per day, you could be losing almost 2 hours every day of productive work and almost 10 hours every week.

                      If you have an important project to work on, find a space where you won’t be distracted, or try doing this.

                      11. Commit Focused Time to Smaller Tasks

                      You know sometimes, you need to simply tackle these tasks and take action on them. But there’s always something more pressing.

                      Small tasks can often get in the way of your most important projects. They sit there on your daily To Do list but are often forgotten about because of more important priorities or because they hold no interest for you. But they take up mental energy. They clutter your mind.

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                      Commit to spending a specific period of time completing all the small tasks you have on your To Do list. It will give you peace of mind and the space to focus more on your bigger priorities.

                      12. Take a Time Audit

                      Do you know exactly where your time is going each day? Are you spending too long on certain projects and tasks to the detriment of bigger opportunities?

                      Spend a bit of time to analyze where you are spending your time. This insight will amaze you and give you the clarity to start adjusting where you focus your time and on what projects.

                      You can start by taking a piece of paper and creating three columns:

                      Column A is Priority Work. Column B is Good Work. Column C is low value work or stuff.

                      Each day, write down the project or task and the time spent on each. Allocate that time to one of the columns.

                      At the end of the week, record the total time spent in each column.

                      If you are spending far too much time on certain types of work, look to change things so your focused time is in Column B and C.

                      13. Protect Your Confidence

                      It is essential to protect our confidence to ensure we don’t get overwhelmed, stressed and lose belief.

                      When you have confidence as a daily resource, you are in a better position to problem solve, learn quicker, respond to anything, adjust to anything, and achieve your biggest opportunities.

                      Confidence gives you the ability to transform fear into focused and relaxed thinking, communication, and action. This is key to put your mind into a productive state.

                      When confidence is high, you can clearly see the possibilities at hand and create strategies to take advantage of them, or to solve the challenges you face each day.

                      Final Words

                      A heavy workload can be tough to deal with and can cause stress, burnout and ongoing frustration.

                      The key is to tackle it head on, rather than let it go on and compound the long-term effects. Hopefully, you can take action on at least one of these tips.

                      If it gets too much, and negatively affects your physical and mental health, it may be time to talk to someone. Instead of dealing with it alone and staying unhappier, resentful and getting to a point where you simply can’t cope, you have to make a change for your own sanity.

                      Featured photo credit: Hannah Wei via unsplash.com

                      Reference

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