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5 Tools We Always Use Which Actually Make Us Unproductive

5 Tools We Always Use Which Actually Make Us Unproductive

It’s 2015, and technology has come far enough that we human beings are being more productive than ever!

Well, at least, we wish we were.

Some of the very same technologies that were invented to make us more productive are, as it turns out, actually making us less productive. Is it the reliance on technology? Is it that we cannot be invested in things we barely are able to take part in? Research into the various tools and software that we use to stay productive doesn’t give a single, clear answer, but it does offer some insight into what tools are making us less productive. Take a look at these five:

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1. Calendar Software

Let’s take calendar software as an example. Sure, it helps keep things nice and orderly. You have the ability to collaborate with others, share it and it will be there on any technological device you have on hand (for the most part). However, there’s a double-edged sword.

Calendars that are built to be shared or on a platform of some kind run the risk of drawing you in to check your invites for ten minutes, or adjusting the tag colors of the meetings, or even run the risk of someone else cancelling and rescheduling an event. Now you have to go and chase down everything once more and then enter it in once again to your specifications. Kelly James-Enger, author of “Six-Figure Freelancing” swears by writing down appointments and notes by hand on old-fashioned calendars to save time and stay productive

While calendar and scheduling software do allow for keeping us informed on the go, they also come with the downside of distracting us more than they actually keep us in order – ironic? Not really. Our modern minds do love to wander when it comes to menial tasks and scheduling an appointment isn’t a far stretch beyond the definition of menial.

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2. Messengers and communication software

Instant messaging has made things a lot more, well, instant. That means things are super-efficient and fast now, correct? Well, to some degree, sure. However, instant messengers between students or in a workplace have been shown to take the focus off of the actual point of quick communication and inspire a lot more procrastination and gossiping. Quite a few big companies have taken to implement chat software and communication methods that cut down on employees being tempted to look away from their work and chat on how cute the new employee is or commiserate about the boss (a few of you have done it, admit it). In short, instant-messengers have a lot of great uses – they just come at the cost of making us less productive. Sound familiar?

3. Powerpoint

A beloved aid to teacher and student alike, as well as in the corporate world, Powerpoint has proven to be very popular. Popular though it may be, studies have shown that Powerpoint is greatly reducing the amount of productivity, learning and involvement that comes from the people using it. It might be a bit sardonic, but staring blankly at a white sheet with bullet points on it never did feel very productive. That aside, teachers and students still swear by this tool, but those studies have pretty much shown that a big percentage of those lovingly clinging to Powerpoint are probably doing so because of how little effort it invokes in them.

4. Smartphones

That crotchety old man who you see in TV shows that is always yelling about how things were better in his day, and us whipper-snappers were having our brains turned to mush by all of the modern technology we now rely on? Yeah, he’s still someone you should probably ignore, but the problem with smartphones is that they’re working much more smartly than we are.

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“But I can do so much more work now!” you might protest, “I’ve never been as organized and productive as I am with my smartphone!”. OK, great. That neat little device does carry a lot of things to make us more productive. You know what else it carries? Games, Netflix, text-messaging and plenty of other wonders that are making humans even less productive with them than without. It is in the eye of the user, of course, but studies have shown that smartphone owners tend to waste a significant amount of time getting nothing done while others are being more productive with less.

5. Management software

A few business owners out there just shuddered. Management software is typically a big suite of software that companies bring in to address all of their needs: it has a database, a calendar (oh no), the ability to send out email blasts, and it almost never ends up being a perfect fit. The scenario goes: you find the right suite, buy it, spend the time and money getting it implemented, your workers trained, and dollar signs dance in the distance. However, then employees start tweaking it to better suit their needs, or the patch update messed things up, or so on and so forth.

Many who have gone through this process can attest to how much time was wasted repeatedly trying to get the software to work for everyone, or sometimes at all. A one-size-fits-all solution for a business or individual is a dream come true, but it typically remains a distant dream while we become more and more unproductive trying to work around what is meant to be making us lightning efficient. Poetic irony, I suppose.

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When it comes down to it, many of the tools we use to be productive today are a double-edged sword. The laptop I am typing this on now has a bunch of games calling my name, and it is almost comical how potent the sting is. Remember: staying productive is in your hands, and there are always workarounds and ways to adjust your attitude, environment and tools to better help you remain productive.

Featured photo credit: giuseppemilo via flickr.com

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4 Ways to Send a Money Transfer Online INDX.guru 8 Powerful Hidden Features in Stock Market Apps You’ve Probably Missed 4 Apps To Turn You Into A Stock Market Pro (You Should Use) “I would be so successful if someone just gave me a shot”, you might think. Why not be the one to give youreself a shot? Many people out there have mindsets and attitudes that set them up for failure. They might answer my question with, “That's a crazy idea!” or “I've already tried that!” but how much of that is just making excuses? When it comes to limiting your own success, there are ten particular mindsets that turn those answers into self-fulfilling prophecy: 1. Loafing You'll write that novel just as soon as you're done with your favorite show. Oh, but now you're hungry. You'll get started after a snack. Oh, but now that snack has made you sleepy – a little nap couldn't hurt, right? One of the hardest parts, and the most obvious, of achieving success is the actual work. Procrastinating, making excuses or tricking yourself into loafing is just going to cement the fact that nothing will ever get done. It might not sound pretty, or even too easy, but the easiest way to get to success is to just jump in and get going (which is exactly how I got started). 2. Blaming It's not your fault you're not successful – the industry is bad, you don't have the money, etc, etc. When it comes down to it, however, who is the one responsible for your success? You. This is the day and age where people are launching successful start-ups in a few months, getting published online and finding their way to success one way or another. Some things might be out of your control, but blaming others is just going to waste the energy and time you need to get going. 3. Sour-grapes Being envious of the success of others is almost as bad as blaming them. All the time and energy you could be putting into your own goals is going towards a person who more than likely has done nothing but show you that the goal is attainable. You don't have to be applauding their success, but being envious and sour about it is a waste of time – let it roll off your shoulders and dig down towards accomplishing your own goals. 4. Minimizing others success Again, you don't have to be cheering and raving about the success of others, but minimizing their accomplishments looks bad on you and on your own goals. If you attained success, would you want others rolling their eyes and treating it like it is not a big deal in the slightest? I highly doubt it. “So they climbed Mount Everest, big whoop. Plenty of people have done it before”. Have you? 5. Talking You're going to do this, you're going to do that – the proof is in the pudding, ultimately. Talking about your goals and what you're going to accomplish is all well and good, but talking time is better spent actually doing. Talking about your goals has actually been shown to make you less likely to reach them, so zip up those chattering lips and dive in. 6. Making assumptions You know what they say about the word ‘assume’, it makes (a word I’ll leave out of this article) out of ‘u’ and ‘me’ . Unsuccessful people are the best at making assumptions without considering other outlets or opportunities. Missed chance after missed chance can put anyone behind or completely ruin something that you poured a lot of hard work into. People are often surprised at what happens if they take a chance instead of listening to that little pessimist inside their heads. ‘Never assume’ is good advice and it is a mindset you should get out of as quickly as possible. 7. Procrastinating This one is obvious, isn't it? It's about the same as loafing, but even worse because it applies to multiple areas of our lives. That big project? Eh, its not due for a week. My dreams? Eh, I'm going to be taking a class to learn how to write in a few months, I can relax until then. Procrastinating isn't the friend of successful people. Many of them had to learn how to either make procrastination work for them or to barrel through it and press on, even with the proverbial sloth demanding you park it on the couch. 8. Naysaying “It will never work. It is impossible, I just can't ...”. That is about when it is time to take a good look at yourself. There are a plethora of people out there that once thought the same thing: you can't get a man into space, you can't find a way for a human to fly, you can't cure a disease. Well, people did what was once considered impossible. If they can defy the entire world, why can't you defy your internal pessimist and get there? Don't tell yourself that it is impossible. In the world we live in today, it seems like impossible is becoming a word that gets weaker every day, and the same is true of your goals. 9. Consuming Fast food, energy drinks, trash TV – your brain is sobbing at the thought. With all the time spent taking in things that are not good for your brain or body, how can anyone expect it to happily balance out and produce the stuff you need to achieve success? Your output should be greater than your input; though you don't have to take the starving artist spiel literally. The point is, your production is where the value is, not the absorption. 10. Quitting “Well, I tried.” Sure, you tried once. That horse is shaking its head and trotting off to find someone who will get back on it. There's nothing necessarily wrong with cutting your losses sometimes. After all, no experience is ever truly wasted, but quitting is the top enemy to successful people. If you believe in something, if you want to find that success, there is no road map. You may very well have to carve your own path through treacherous jungle. If you give up the first time a mosquito bites you then you've doomed yourself already. Success, in large part, is about the human being in the arena. People cheer for them, their struggle and victory, but the person who watches idly and scoffs, having never tried has also never really lived. Mindsets are not set in stone. It is never too late to get started and change your perspective. After all, achieving success is completely up to you – you are the one making excuses and holding yourself back. You are also the one that will decide when it is time to stand up and get back into that arena. 10 Bad Habits That Stop People From Achieving Success 5 Tools We Always Use Which Actually Make Us Unproductive 5 Tools We Always Use Which Actually Make Us Unproductive

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Last Updated on June 26, 2019

How to Create Your Road Map to Success (A Step-By-Step Guide)

How to Create Your Road Map to Success (A Step-By-Step Guide)

Everyone has their own definition of what success means to them. Well, at least we all should by the very fact that no two individuals are created 100% alike.

Our road map to success should be different to the person standing next to us. But we can get caught in the dangerous trap that someone else’s ideas of success should also be ours. Be careful.

Regardless of whether or not we’re talking about your working career, business or personal life, it is truly hard to resist the contagious excitement surrounding those fantastic dreams and goals you allow yourself to explore.

The ‘come-down’ after attending a euphoric state-inducing personal development seminar can often result in you feeling the slump of post-seminar blues. Worse still, your everyday circumstances don’t accommodate the changes you swore to make that weekend. Nothing changes.

Get ready to kiss goodbye the post-seminar blues and skip to each destination on your roadmap to your successes. By repeating over and over these simple steps, the quality of your life will improve.

You will want to use these steps as standard strategies to carry you toward further success in whatever shape or form you choose.

1. Define What Success Means to You

Is it just having enough money or more money than you might ever need that allows you to feel and judge yourself a success? Is it about having a beautiful house worth more than $2,000,000 on the upper east side of Manhattan?

Is it about having a loving partner who supports you in your endeavors? Do you equally support each other?

Is it through the tertiary education roadmap that you only feel valid you can make a meaningful and successful contribution to help the world economy turn? Is that your definition of success or is it someone else’s? Maybe your mom’s or your dad’s?

When her daughter Christina found her on the floor of her office, in a pool of blood having hit her head and breaking her cheekbone as she fell, CEO of Thrive Global and celebrated author of Thrive, Ariana Huffington had a wake-up call in more ways than one.[1]

The exhaustion and overwhelming stress which had led to her fainting drove Huffington to radically introduce new work ethics, values and rules at the editorial.

Ten years on from her accident, Huffington still leads the conversational charge amongst global leaders to change the badge of honor that successful people need to work 24/7, and give everything of themselves and more, even it means compromising their health.

As opposed to letting power and money be the two measurements of success, she explains wisdom, well-being, wonder and giving will give you greater success by nurturing your psychological well-being.

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We can’t argue with Huffington that without that, we are proverbially dead in the water.

Warren Buffet stated the way he defines success nowadays has nothing to do with money:

“I measure success by how many people love me”.

You can’t but fall in love with the wisdom and nobility these words seem to reflect, but keeping it as your only definition of success is probably dangerous. Lacking today’s wisdom at 20 years of age, would Buffet have had the same definition of success?

Think about where you are on your journey. You are likely to have different goals and different measures of success as you navigate your roadmap. Huffington and Buffet explain non-tangible ideas of success are crucial for our overall success.

Let’s also not forget though that through tenacity, persistence and many other success habits, these business leaders also rate extremely high on the power and money metrics. However, that’s not all there is to it.

If you are not sure how you would answer if someone asked you what your definition of success is, here are some clues to get you thinking and feeling.

As your head hits the pillow and before you close your eyes, what’s most important is that you can internalize that you have chosen your definition of success and you can full responsibility and accountability for deciding upon it.

2. Review Your Progress and Satisfaction in Life

Review the main areas of your life. Not just those where you feel you need to make changes. Review all of them:

  • Your career vocation or business life;
  • Your relationships – your intimate or life partner, family and friends;
  • Money health and financial management strategies;
  • Commitment to your faith or religion and spiritual personal development;
  • Your physical and mental health;

What leisure or recreational activities you pursue for fun to energize your spirit and enrich your soul.

Do you have ideas of what success looks like for you in each of these areas?

Neglecting to look at even one area is like trying to restore function to a beautifully crafted Swiss watch, whilst failing to attend to a rusty-looking cog in the tiny internal workings that needs attention. Turn one cog, the others all turn. Ignore a damaged one, the system malfunctions.

For each area, give yourself a rating out of ten – one signifies the least satisfaction and ten signifies the most – and ask yourself the following questions to help you start identifying what’s important to you:

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  • How satisfied or content with this area of my life am I presently?
  • Where would I like to live this current level of contentment to?
  • What would that new level of satisfaction look like, feel like?
  • How important is this area compared with the other areas of my life?

Regardless of what areas you recognize need to be your core focus, consider making personal development and improvements to your physical and mental health, and well-being a constant feature of your action plan.

You will need to continually recognize obstacles you’ll face from your outside world, as well as those internal psychological battles that will arise from within.

Without your mental and physical health intact, it’s unlikely the rest of the ‘cogs’ are going to turn properly.

3. Get to Know Your Values and Priorities

Don’t make the mistake of thinking goal setting can be done in one sitting. You want to make sure the pursuits you put down on paper aren’t fly-by-night moments of excitement that ebb and flow with the rise and fall of tidal trends.

Become better at identifying your priorities by exploring how you feel about each of your life areas. Think about the ratings of satisfaction you might have denoted for each. And now write down what you want to be, do and have.

Put aside your initial literary ramblings and revisit them in a couple of weeks or one month. Without looking at your initial thoughts, do the process again and see what consistencies show up. What keeps coming up as feeling important? Around what ideas is there the same yearning or emotional pull?

If you’re unsure about what you feel you wish to head towards, be in allowance of this. Don’t be jumping to quickly fill the void. The desperation is likely to have you catching the tail of the last exciting concept in fear of missing out, or trying to fill the void of excitement you yearn for.

Increase your practice of pausing and asking yourself:

Why does this resonate with me? Could this be a distraction which complicates the route I have mapped out? Am I becoming that person who proverbially chases two rabbits and catches none?

In his book The Heart of Love, Dr. John Demartini explains how becoming strongly aware of your values and priorities helps you understand why you are and where you are in your life at any given moment.

If you don’t know what you feel you stand for, look at where you direct your time, energy and attention. Look at your behavior and work backward.

You might think making money and creating financial wealth is high on your radar. However, if you spend more than you earn and allocate money to depreciating objects as opposed to appreciating assets, your behavior is inconsistent with those typical of someone who is financially astute.

Look back to your areas of life and ask yourself if the goals you have set are in alignment with your values. Look at your daily behaviors and ask yourself if the way you operate satisfies steps which take you further toward those goals.

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If not, all is not lost. You’ve simply got some harsh truths and reality checks to face before you can go any further on your roadmap to success.

4. Make Room Deliberately to Work with a Coach

You have to come to terms with the fact that you’re likely to be swimming against the tide.

Once you make clear unwavering decisions about what goals you’re aiming for, prepare to be un-liked, unpopular, criticized and potentially ostracized. There’s a high possibility you’ll lose the friendship and support of some however you will gain new friends and the support of others.

Regardless of what area/s of life your goals pertain to, make room to work with a coach. Choose wisely who that person will be to encourage and walk beside you.

Whether it be a certified coach, a family friend/mentor or qualified therapist, find someone who knows how to work with the specific issues and challenges that lay ahead without any agenda other than your success.

Having that impartial guide can be an invaluable constant. This helps keeps you on the straight and narrow even if other areas of your life aren’t going swimmingly.

5. Get Highly Familiar with Your Habits and Behaviors

Despite the scientific evidence in support of it, we’re not recommending you need to start getting up at 5:00 am and exercising for an hour before you even think about starting your day.

You should start asking yourself these questions far more frequently:

  • How well do you know your habits and routine ways of operating?
  • Do you know what choices and patterned behaviors help or hinder you?

You know what you want to work on. Greater clarity on your values has enabled you to discern which priorities are high on your list and which ones are low. It’s now time to reinforce and reward the habits that carry you forward on your roadmap to success, and adjust those habits which delay or divert you staying on course.

Remember though that part of the joy of the human experience is to be fallible, so don’t suddenly shelve all those character-building ‘vices’. Your flaws are a necessary part of your unique success jigsaw puzzle; they are the inspiring reasons you’re going on this journey in the first place.

Demartini and New York Times journalist and author Charles Duhigg both explain in their books how recognizing your unhelpful behavioral patterns needs to take place first. You identify the emotional and psychological rewards which rule over whether you sustain, break or make a habit.

When you know the rewards that light you up like a Christmas tree, you link them to new or modified habits that support values you want to make a higher priority.

Say you love eating out. You love artisan cuisine and get giddy at watching the episode of Heston Blumenthal create chocolate water in his food chemistry laboratory. As much as you say you want to increase your investment in appreciating assets, your spending habits speak otherwise.

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So, you might start looking for discount opportunities on your higher-end dining. The dishes may not rival Heston’s masterpieces, but your taste buds still enjoy a culinary roller coaster AND you also now to get feel-good allocating the discounted amount to a saving’s program.

Your tummy is singing as is your bank account. The whole experience goes well beyond short-term gratification and satisfies several values and goals.

Tweaking habits and forming new ones isn’t hard; it’s just a matter of finding a happy marriage. Take time to find it. There will always be ways.

6. Celebrate the Wins and Monitor Your Progress Along the Way

You must become good at deliberately rewarding yourself when you make changes that take you further along your roadmap to success.

Professor of cognitive neuroscience Dr. Tali Sharot explains how the brain responds and adapts far better to rewards than punishment when it comes to learning behavior and creating new habits.[2]

When we apply punishment, we reinforce the traumatic memory as being more important than the actual lesson we might have been meant to learn in the first place.

When we gamify rewards on our success journey, we inject fun and humor. We also reduce the stress that often comes with learning new things, habits and adjusting to new ways of being, doing and having.

Final Thoughts

If you hit a progress plateau at any point, you might need to allow yourself to plateau and switch your attention to another priority.

The switch may allow you to think more freely and clearly about how to move past your roadblock. Or it might simply be a good time to stop and smell the roses.

Your muscles grow stronger in their resting phase after a workout. Animals hunt profusely to build up their energy stores before going into hibernation.

Remember that continually forging ahead is not a natural rhythm. Repeat the cycle of rest, recovery and rallying forward then…start again.

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Featured photo credit: Tabea Damm via unsplash.com

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