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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.

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        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 October 22, 2020

                    How Not to Feel Overwhelmed at Work & Take Control of Your Day

                    How Not to Feel Overwhelmed at Work & Take Control of Your Day

                    Overwhelm is a pernicious state largely caused by the ever-increasing demands on our time and the distractions that exist all around us. It creeps up on us and can, in its extreme form, leave us feeling anxious, stressed, and exhausted. Therefore, if you’re feeling overwhelmed at work, it’s time to do something about it.

                    Here are 6 strategies you can follow that will reduce the feeling of overwhelm, leaving you calmer, in control, and a lot less stressed at work.

                    1. Write Everything Down to Offload Your Mind

                    The first thing you can do when work feels overwhelming is to write everything down that is on your mind.

                    Often people just write down all the things they think they have to do. This does help, but a more effective way to reduce overwhelm is to also write down everything that’s occupying your thoughts[1].

                    For example, you may have had an argument with your colleague or a loved one. If it’s on your mind, write it down. A good way to do this is to draw a line down the middle of the page and title one section “things to do” and the other “what’s on my mind.”

                    The act of writing all this down and getting it out of your head will help you stop feeling overwhelmed at work. Writing things down can really change your life.

                    2. Decide How Long It Will Take to Complete Your To-Dos

                    Once you have emptied your head, go through your list and estimate how long it will take to complete each to-do.

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                    As you go through your list, you will find quite a few to-dos will only take you five or ten minutes. Others will take longer, often up to several hours.

                    Do not worry about that at this stage. Just focus on estimating how long you will need to complete each task to the best of your ability. You can learn how to create a more meaningful to-do list here.

                    3. Take Advantage of Parkinson’s Law

                    Here’s a little trick I learned a long time ago to help when work feels overwhelming. Parkinson’s Law states that work will fill the time you have available to complete it, and we humans are terrible at estimating how long something will take[2]:

                    When feeling overwhelmed at work, use Parkinson's Law.

                      This is why many people are always late. They think it will only take them thirty minutes to drive across town when previous experience has taught them it usually takes forty-five minutes to do so because traffic is often bad. It’s more wishful thinking than bad judgment.

                      We can use Parkinson’s Law to our advantage when we’re feeling overwhelmed at work. If you have estimated that to write five important emails will take ninety minutes, then reduce it down to one hour. Likewise, if you have estimated it will take you three hours to prepare your upcoming presentation, reduce it down to two hours.

                      Reducing the time you estimate something will take gives you two advantages. The first is you get your work done quicker, obviously. The second is that you put yourself under a little time pressure, and in doing so you reduce the likelihood you will be distracted or allow yourself to procrastinate.

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                      When we overestimate how long something will take, subconsciously our brains know we have plenty of time, so it plays tricks on us, and we end up checking reviews of the Apple Watch 4 or allow our team members to interrupt us with the latest office gossip.

                      Applying a little time pressure prevents this from happening, and we get more focused and more work done. This will help when work feels overwhelming.

                      4. Use the Power of Your Calendar

                      Once you have your time estimates done, open up your calendar and schedule your to-dos to avoid getting overwhelmed at work. Schedule time for each task, especially high priority tasks, while also grouping together similar tasks. This will help relieve stress and anxiety in your daily work life.

                      For emails that need attention on your to-do list, schedule time on your calendar to deal with all your emails at once. Likewise, if you have a report to write or a presentation to prepare, add these to your calendar using your estimated time as a guide for how long each will take.

                      Seeing these items on your calendar eases your mind because you know you have allocated time to get them done, and you no longer feel you have no time. Grouping similar tasks together keeps you in a focused state longer, and it’s amazing how much work you get done when you do this.

                      5. Make Decisions

                      For those things you wrote down that are on your mind but are not tasks, make a decision about what you will do with each one[3]. These things are on your mind because you have not made a decision about them.

                      If you have an issue with a colleague, a friend, or a loved one, take a little time to think about what would be the best way to resolve the problem. More often than not just talking with the person involved will clear the air and resolve the problem.

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                      If it is a more serious issue, then decide how best to deal with it. Talk to your boss or a colleague and get advice.

                      Whatever you do, do not allow it to fester. Ignoring the problem will not make it go away and will only make you feel more overwhelmed at work. You need to make a decision to deal with it, and the sooner you do so the sooner the problem will be resolved.

                      I remember long ago, when I was in my early twenties and had gone mad with my newly acquired credit cards. I discovered I didn’t have the money to pay my monthly bills. I worried about it for days, got stressed, and really didn’t know what to do. Eventually, I told a good friend about the problem.

                      He suggested I called the credit card company to explain my problem. The next day, I plucked up the courage to call the company, explained my problem, and the wonderful person the other end listened and then suggested I pay a smaller amount for a couple of months.

                      This one phone call took no more than ten minutes to make, yet it solved my problem and took away a lot of the stress I was feeling at the time. I learned two very valuable lessons from that experience:

                      The first was: don’t go mad with newly acquired credit cards! And the second: there’s always a solution to every problem if you just talk to the right person.

                      6. Take Some Form of Action

                      Because overwhelm is something that creeps up on us, once we are feeling overwhelmed at work (and stressed as the two often go together), the key is to take some form of action.

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                      The act of writing everything down that is bothering you and causing you to feel overwhelmed is a great place to start. Being able to see what it is that is bothering you in a list form, no matter how long that list is, eases the mind. You have externalized it.

                      It also means that, rather than these worries floating around in a jumbled mess inside your head, they are now visible, and you can make decisions about what to do about them.

                      Often, it could be asking a colleague for a little help, or it could be that you need to allocate some focused time to get the work done. The important thing is you make a decision on what to do next.

                      When work feels overwhelming, it’s not always caused by a feeling of having a lack of time or too much work. It can also be caused by avoiding a decision about what to do next.

                      The Bottom Line

                      It’s easy to feel like you have too much on your plate, but there are things you do to make it more manageable. 

                      Make a decision, even if it’s just talking to someone about what to do next. Making a decision about how you will resolve something will reduce your feelings of overwhelm and start you down the path to a resolution.

                      When you follow these strategies, you can say goodbye to your overwhelm and gain much more control over your day.

                      More Tips for Reducing Work Stress

                      Featured photo credit: Josefa nDiaz via unsplash.com

                      Reference

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