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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.

            467020-google-photos-review

              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 March 21, 2019

                    11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

                    11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

                    Most gurus talk about habits in a way that doesn’t help you:

                    You need to push yourself more. You can’t be lazy. You need to wake up at 5 am. You need more motivation. You can never fail…blah blah “insert more gibberish here.”

                    But let me share with you the unconventional truths I found out:

                    To build and change habits, you don’t need motivation or wake up at 5 am. Heck, you can fail multiple times, be lazy, have no motivation and still pull it off with ease.

                    It’s quite simple and easy to do, especially with the following list I’m going to show to you. But remember, Jim Rohn used to say,

                    “What is simple and easy to do is also simple and easy not to do.”

                    The important things to remember when changing your habits are both simple and easy, just don’t think that they don’t make any difference because they do.

                    In fact, they are the only things that make a difference.

                    Let’s see what those small things are, shall we?

                    1. Start Small

                    The biggest mistake I see people doing with habits is by going big. You don’t go big…ever. You start small with your habits.

                    Want to grow a book reading habit? Don’t start reading a book a day. Start with 10 pages a day.

                    Want to become a writer? Don’t start writing 10,000 words a day. Start with 300 words.

                    Want to lose weight? Don’t stop eating ice cream. Eat one less ball of it.

                    Whatever it is, you need to start small. Starting big always leads to failure. It has to, because it’s not sustainable.

                    Start small. How small? The amount needs to be in your comfort zone. So if you think that reading 20 pages of a book is a bit too much, start with 10 or 5.

                    It needs to appear easy and be easy to do.

                    Do less today to do more in a year.

                    2. Stay Small

                    There is a notion of Kaizen which means continuous improvement. They use this notion in habits where they tell you to start with reading 1 page of a book a day and then gradually increase the amount you do over time.

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                    But the problem with this approach is the end line — where the “improvement” stops.

                    If I go from reading 1 page of a book a day and gradually reach 75 and 100, when do I stop? When I reach 1 book a day? That is just absurd.

                    When you start a habit, stay at it in the intensity you have decided. Don’t push yourself for more.

                    I started reading 20 pages of a book a day. It’s been more than 2 years now and I’ve read 101 books in that period. There is no way I will increase the number in the future.

                    Why?

                    Because reading 40 to 50 books a year is enough.

                    The same thing applies to every other habit out there.

                    Pick a (small) number and stay at it.

                    3. Bad Days Are 100 Percent Occurrence

                    No matter how great you are, you will have bad days where you won’t do your habit. Period.

                    There is no way of going around this. So it’s better to prepare yourself for when that happens instead of thinking that it won’t ever happen.

                    What I do when I miss a day of my habit(s) is that I try to bounce back the next day while trying to do habits for both of those days.

                    Example for that is if I read 20 pages of a book a day and I miss a day, the next day I will have to read 40 pages of a book. If I miss writing 500 words, the next day I need to write 1000.

                    This is a really important point we will discuss later on rewards and punishments.

                    This is how I prepare for the bad days when I skip my habit(s) and it’s a model you should take as well.

                    4. Those Who Track It, Hack It

                    When you track an activity, you can objectively tell what you did in the past days, weeks, months, and years. If you don’t track, you will for sure forget everything you did.

                    There are many different ways you can track your activities today, from Habitica to a simple Excel sheet that I use, to even a Whatsapp Tracker.

                    Peter Drucker said,

                    “What you track is what you do.”

                    So track it to do it — it really helps.

                    But tracking is accompanied by one more easy activity — measuring.

                    5. Measure Once, Do Twice

                    Peter Drucker also said,

                    “What you measure is what you improve.”

                    So alongside my tracker, I have numbers with which I measure doses of daily activities:

                    For reading, it’s 20 pages.
                    For writing, it’s 500 words.
                    For the gym, it’s 1 (I went) or 0 (didn’t go).
                    For budgeting, it’s writing down the incomes and expenses.

                    Tracking and measuring go hand in hand, they take less than 20 seconds a day but they create so much momentum that it’s unbelievable.

                    6. All Days Make a Difference

                    Will one day in the gym make you fit? It won’t.

                    Will two? They won’t.

                    Will three? They won’t.

                    Which means that a single gym session won’t make you fit. But after 100 gym sessions, you will look and feel fit.

                    What happened? Which one made you fit?

                    The answer to this (Sorites paradox)[1] is that no single gym session made you fit, they all did.

                    No single day makes a difference, but when combined, they all do. So trust the process and keep on going (small).

                    7. They Are Never Fully Automated

                    Gurus tell you that habits become automatic. And yes, some of them do, like showering a certain way of brushing your teeth.

                    But some habits don’t become automatic, they become a lifestyle.

                    What I mean by that is that you won’t automatically “wake up” in the gym and wonder how you got there.

                    It will just become a part of your lifestyle.

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                    The difference is that you do the first one automatically, without conscious thought, while the other is a part of how you live your life.

                    It’s not automatic, but it’s a decision you don’t ponder on or think about — you simply do it.

                    It will become easy at a certain point, but they will never become fully automated.

                    8. What Got You Here Won’t Get You There

                    Marshall Goldsmith has a great book with the same title to it. The phrase means that sometimes, you will need to ditch certain habits to make room for other ones which will bring you to the next step.

                    Don’t be afraid to evolve your habits when you sense that they don’t bring you where you want to go.

                    When I started reading, it was about reading business and tactic books. But two years into it, I switched to philosophy books which don’t teach me anything “applicable,” but instead teach me how to think.

                    The most important ability of the 21st century is the ability to learn, unlearn, and relearn. The strongest tree is the willow tree – not because it has the strongest root or biggest trunk, but because it is flexible enough to endure and sustain anything.

                    Be like a willow, adapting to the new ways of doing things.

                    9. Set a Goal and Then Forget It

                    The most successful of us know what they want to achieve, but they don’t focus on it.

                    Sounds paradoxical? You’re right, it does. But here is the logic behind it.

                    You need to have a goal of doing something – “I want to become a healthy individual” – and then, you need to reverse engineer how to get there with your habits- “I will go to the gym four times a week.”

                    But once you have your goal, you need to “forget” about it and only focus on the process. Because you are working on the process of becoming healthy and it’s always in the making. You will only be as healthy as you take care of your body.

                    So you have a goal which isn’t static but keeps on moving.

                    If you went to the gym 150 times year and you hit your goal, what would you do then? You would stop going to the gym.

                    This is why goal-oriented people experience yo-yo effect[2] and why process-oriented people don’t.

                    The difference between process-oriented and goal-oriented people is that the first focus on daily actions while others only focus on the reward at the finish line.

                    Set a goal but then forget about it and reap massive awards.

                    10. Punish Yourself

                    Last two sections are pure Pavlovian – you need to punish bad behavior and reward good behavior. You are the only person who decides what is good and what is bad for you, but when you do, you need to rigorously follow that.

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                    I’ve told you in point #3 about bad days and how after one occurs, I do double the work on the next day. That is one of my forms of punishments.

                    It’s the need to tell your brain that certain behaviors are unacceptable and that they lead to bad outcomes. That’s what punishments are for.

                    You want to tell your brain that there are real consequences to missing your daily habits.[3]

                    No favorite food to eat or favorite show to watch or going to the cinema for a new Marvel movie- none, zero, zilch.

                    The brain will remember these bad feelings and will try to avoid the behaviors that led to them as much as possible.

                    But don’t forget the other side of the same coin.

                    11. Reward Yourself

                    When you follow and execute on your plan, reward yourself. It’s how the brain knows that you did something good.

                    Whenever I finish one of my habits for the day, I open my tracker (who am I kidding, I always keep it open on my desktop) and fill it with a number. As soon as I finish reading 20 pages of a book a day (or a bit more), I open the tracker and write the number down.

                    The cell becomes green and gives me an instant boost of endorphin – a great success for the day. Then, it becomes all about not breaking the chain and having as many green fields as possible.

                    After 100 days, I crunch some numbers and see how I did.

                    If I have less than 10 cheat days, I reward myself with a great meal in a restaurant. You can create your own rewards and they can be daily, weekly, monthly or any arbitrary time table that you create.

                    Primoz Bozic, a productivity coach, has gold, silver, and bronze medals as his reward system.[4]

                    If you’re having problems creating a system which works for you, contact me via email and we can discuss specifics.

                    In the End, It Matters

                    What you do matters not only to you but to the people around you.

                    When you increase the quality of your life, you indirectly increase the quality of life of people around you. And sometimes, that is all the “motivation” we need to start.

                    And that’s the best quote for the end of this article:

                    “Motivation gets you started, but habits keep you going.”

                    Keep going.

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                    More Resources to Help You Build Habits

                    Featured photo credit: Anete Lūsiņa via unsplash.com

                    Reference

                    [1] Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Sorites paradox
                    [2] Muscle Zone: What causes yo-yo effect and how to avoid it?
                    [3] Growth Habits: 5 Missteps That Cause You To Quit Building A Habit
                    [4] Primoz Bozic: The Lean Review: How to Plan Your 2019 in 20 Minutes

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