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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.

                  Swipes-Text-e1428201857471

                    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 30, 2019

                    How To Write Effective Meeting Minutes (with Examples)

                    How To Write Effective Meeting Minutes (with Examples)

                    Minutes are a written record of a board, company, or organizational meeting. Meeting minutes are considered a legal document, so when writing them, strive for clarity and consistency of tone.

                    Because minutes are a permanent record of the meeting, be sure to proofread them well before sending. It is a good idea to run them by a supervisor or seasoned attendee to make sure statements and information are accurately captured.

                    The best meeting minutes takers are careful listeners, quick typists, and are adequately familiar with the meeting topics and attendees. The note taker must have a firm enough grasp of the subject matter to be able to separate the important points from the noise in what can be long, drawn-out discussions. And, importantly, the note taker should not simultaneously lead and take notes. (If you’re ever asked to do so, decline.)

                    Following, are some step-by-step hints to effectively write meeting minutes:

                    1. Develop an Agenda

                    Work with the Chairperson or Board President to develop a detailed agenda.

                    Meetings occur for a reason, and the issues to be addressed and decided upon need to be listed to alert attendees. Work with the convener to draft an agenda that assigns times to each topic to keep the meeting moving and to make sure the group has enough time to consider all items.

                    The agenda will serve as your outline for the meeting minutes. Keep the minutes’ headings consistent with the agenda topics for continuity.

                    2. Follow a Template from Former Minutes Taken

                    If you are new to a Board or organization, and are writing minutes for the first time, ask to see the past meeting minutes so that you can maintain the same format.

                    Generally, the organization name or the name of the group that is meeting goes at the top: “Meeting of the Board of Directors of XYZ,” with the date on the next line. After the date, include both the time the meeting came to order and the time the meeting ended.

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                    Most groups who meet do so regularly, with set agenda items at each meeting. Some groups include a Next Steps heading at the end of the minutes that lists projects to follow up on and assigns responsibility.

                    A template from a former meeting will also help determine whether or not the group records if a quorum was met, and other items specific to the organization’s meeting minutes.

                    3. Record Attendance

                    On most boards, the Board Secretary is the person responsible for taking the meeting minutes. In organizational meetings, the minutes taker may be a project coordinator or assistant to a manager or CEO. She or he should arrive a few minutes before the meeting begins and pass around an attendance sheet with all members’ names and contact information.

                    Meeting attendees will need to check off their names and make edits to any changes in their information. This will help as both a back-up document of attendees and ensure that information goes out to the most up-to-date email addresses.

                    All attendees’ names should be listed directly below the meeting name and date, under a subheading that says “Present.” List first and last names of all attendees, along with title or affiliation, separated by a comma or semi-colon.

                    If a member of the Board could not attend the meeting, cite his or her name after the phrase: “Copied To:” There may be other designations in the participants’ list. For example, if several of the meeting attendees are members of the staff while everyone else is a volunteer, you may want to write (Staff) after each staff member.

                    As a general rule, attendees are listed alphabetically by their last names. However, in some organizations, it’s a best practice to list the leadership of the Board first. In that case, the President or Co-Presidents would be listed first, followed by the Vice President, followed by the Secretary, and then by the Treasurer. Then all other names of attendees would be alphabetized by last name.

                    It is also common practice to note if a participant joined the meeting via conference call. This can be indicated by writing: “By Phone” and listing the participants who called in.

                    4. Naming Convention

                    Generally, the first time someone speaks in the meeting will include his or her name and often the title.

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                    For example, “President of the XYZ Board, Roger McGowan, called the meeting to order.” The next time Roger McGowan speaks, though, you can simply refer to him as “Roger.” If there are two Rogers in the meeting, use an initial for their last names to separate the two. “Roger M. called for a vote. Roger T. abstained.”

                    5. What, and What Not, to Include

                    Depending on the nature of the meeting, it could last from one to several hours. The attendees will be asked to review and then approve the meeting minutes. Therefore, you don’t want the minutes to extend into a lengthy document.

                    Capturing everything that people say verbatim is not only unnecessary, but annoying to reviewers.

                    For each agenda item, you ultimately want to summarize only the relevant points of the discussion along with any decisions made. After the meeting, cull through your notes, making sure to edit out any circular or repetitive arguments and only leave in the relevant points made.

                    6. Maintain a Neutral Tone

                    Minutes are a legal document. They are used to establish an organization’s historical record of activity. It is essential to maintain an even, professional tone. Never put inflammatory language in the minutes, even if the language of the meeting becomes heated.

                    You want to record the gist of the discussion objectively, which means mentioning the key points covered without assigning blame. For example, “The staff addressed board members’ questions regarding the vendor’s professionalism.”

                    Picture a lawyer ten years down the road reading the minutes to find evidence of potential wrongdoing. You wouldn’t want an embellishment in the form of a colorful adverb or a quip to cloud any account of what took place. Here’s a list of neutral sounding words to get started with.

                    7. Record Votes

                    The primary purpose of minutes is to record any votes a board or organization takes. Solid record-keeping requires mentioning which participant makes a motion — and what the motion states verbatim — and which participant seconds the motion.

                    For example, “Vice President Cindy Jacobsen made a motion to dedicate 50 percent, or $50,000, of the proceeds from the ZZZ Foundation gift to the CCC scholarship fund. President Roger McGowan seconded the motion.”

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                    This vote tabulation should be expressed in neutral language as well. “The Board voted unanimously to amend the charter in the following way,” or “The decision to provide $1,000 to the tree-planting effort passed 4 to 1, with Board President McGowan opposing.”

                    Most Boards try to get a vote passed unanimously. Sometimes in order to help the Board attain a more cohesive outcome, a Board member may abstain from voting. “The motion passed 17 to 1 with one absension.”

                    8. Pare down Notes Post-Meeting

                    Following the meeting, read through your notes while all the discussions remain fresh in your mind, and make any needed revisions. Then, pare the meeting minutes down to their essentials, providing a brief account of the discussion that summarizes arguments made for and against a decision.

                    People often speak colloquially or in idioms, as in: “This isn’t even in the ballpark” or “You’re beginning to sound like a broken record.” While you may be tempted to keep the exact language in the minutes to add color, resist.

                    Additionally, if any presentations are part of the meeting, do not include information from the Powerpoint in the minutes. However, you will want to record the key points from the post-presentation discussion.

                    9. Proofread with Care

                    Make sure that you spelled all names correctly, inserted the correct date of the meeting, and that your minutes read clearly.

                    Spell out acronyms the first time they’re used. Remember that the notes may be reviewed by others for whom the acronyms are unfamiliar. Stay consistent in headings, punctuation, and formatting. The minutes should be polished and professional.

                    10. Distribute Broadly

                    Once approved, email minutes to the full board — not just the attendees — for review. Your minutes will help keep those who were absent apprised of important actions and decisions.

                    At the start of the next meeting, call for the approval of the minutes. Note any revisions. Try to work out the agreed-upon changes in the meeting, so that you don’t spend a huge amount of time on revisions.

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                    Ask for a motion to approve the minutes with the agreed-upon changes. Once an attendee offers a motion, ask for another person in the meeting to “second” the motion. They say, “All approved.” Always ask if there is anyone who does not approve. Assuming not, then say: “The minutes from our last meeting are approved once the agreed-upon changes have been made.”

                    11. File Meticulously

                    Since minutes are a legal document, take care when filing them. Make sure the file name of the document is consistent with the file names of previously filed minutes.

                    Occasionally, members of the organization may want to review past minutes. Know where the minutes are filed!

                    One Caveat

                    In this day and age of high technology, you may ask yourself: Wouldn’t it be simpler to record the meeting? This depends on the protocols of the organization, but probably not.

                    Be sure to ask what the rules are at the organization where you are taking minutes. Remember that the minutes are a record of what was done at the meeting, not what was said at the meeting.

                    The minutes reflect decisions not discussions. In spite of their name, “minutes,” the minutes are not a minute-by-minute transcript.

                    Bottom Line

                    Becoming an expert minutes-taker requires a keen ear, a willingness to learn, and some practice, but by following these tips you will soon become proficient.

                    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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