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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 August 16, 2018

16 Productivity Secrets of Highly Successful People Revealed

16 Productivity Secrets of Highly Successful People Revealed

The same old motivational secrets don’t really motivate you after you’ve read them for the tenth time, do they?

How about a unique spin on things?

These 16 productivity secrets of successful people will make you reevaluate your approach to your home, work, and creative lives. Learn from these highly successful people, turn these little things they do into your daily habits and you’ll get closer to success.

1. Empty your mind.

It sounds counterproductive, doesn’t it?

Emptying your mind when you have so much to remember seems like you’re just begging to forget something. Instead, this gives you a clean slate so you’re not still thinking about last week’s tasks.

Clear your mind and then start thinking only about what you need to do immediately, and then today. Tasks that need to be accomplished later in the week can wait.

Here’s a guide to help you empty your mind and think sharper:

How to Declutter Your Mind to Sharpen Your Brain and Fall Asleep Faster

2. Keep certain days clear.

Some companies are scheduling “No Meeting Wednesdays,” which means, funnily enough, that no one can hold a meeting on a Wednesday. This gives workers a full day to work on their own tasks, without getting sidetracked by other duties or pointless meetings.

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This can work in your personal life too, for example if you need to restrict Facebook access or limit phone calls.

3. Prioritize your work.

Don’t think every task is created equal! Some tasks aren’t as important as others, or might take less time.

Try to sort your tasks every day and see what can be done quickly and efficiently. Get these out of the way so you have more free time and brain power to focus on what is more important.

Lifehack’s CEO has a unique way to prioritize works, take a look at it here:

How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

4. Chop up your time.

Many successful business leaders chop their time up into fifteen-minute intervals. This means they work on tasks for a quarter of an hour at a time, or schedule meetings for only fifteen minutes. It makes each hour seem four times as long, which leads to more productivity!

5. Have a thinking position.

Truman Capote claimed he couldn’t think unless he was laying down. Proust did this as well, while Stravinsky would stand on his head!

What works for others may not work for you. Try to find a spot and position that is perfect for you to brainstorm or come up with ideas.

6. Pick three to five things you must do that day.

To Do lists can get overwhelming very quickly. Instead of making a never-ending list of everything you can think of that needs to be done, make daily lists that include just three to five things.

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Make sure they’re things that need to be done that day, so you don’t keep putting them off.

7. Don’t try to do too much.

OK, so I just told you to work every day, and now I’m telling you to not do too much? It might sound like conflicting advice, but not doing too much means not biting off more than you can chew. Don’t say yes to every work project or social engagement and find yourself in way over your head.

8. Have a daily action plan.

Don’t limit yourself to a to-do list! Take ten minutes every morning to map out a daily action plan. It’s a place to not only write what needs to be done that day, but also to prioritize what will bring the biggest reward, what will take the longest, and what goals will be accomplished.

Leave room for a “brain dump,” where you can scribble down anything else that’s on your mind.

9. Do your most dreaded project first.

Getting your most dreaded task over with first means you’ll have the rest of the day free for anything and everything else. This also means that you won’t be constantly putting off the worst of your projects, making it even harder to start on it later.

10. Follow the “Two-Minute Rule.”

The “Two-Minute Rule” was made famous by David Allen. It’s simple – if a new task comes in and it can be done in two minutes or less, do it right then. Putting it off just adds to your to-do list and will make the task seem more monumental later.

11. Have a place devoted to work.

If you work in an office, it’s no problem to say that your cubicle desk is where you work every day.

But if you work from home, make sure you have a certain area specifically for work. You don’t want files spread out all over the dinner table, and you don’t want to feel like you’re not working just because you’re relaxing on the couch.

Agatha Christie never wrote at her desk, she wrote wherever she could sit down. Ernest Hemingway wrote standing up. Thomas Wolfe, at 6’6″ tall, used the top of his refrigerator as a desk. Richard Wright wrote on a park bench, rain or shine.

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Have a space where, when you go there, you know you’re going to work. Maybe it’s a cafe downstairs, the library, or a meeting room. Whenever and wherever works for you, do your works there.

12. Find your golden hour.

You don’t have to stick to a “typical” 9–5 schedule!

Novelist Anne Rice slept during the day and wrote at night to avoid distractions. Writer Jerzy Kosinski slept eight hours a day, but never all at once. He’d wake in the morning, work, sleep four hours in the afternoon, then work more that evening.

Your golden hour is the time when you’re at your peak. You’re alert, ready to be productive, and intent on crossing things off your to-do list.

Once you find your best time, protect it with all your might. Make sure you’re always free to do your best uninterrupted work at this time.

13. Pretend you’re on an airplane.

It might not be possible to lock everyone out of your office to get some peace and quiet, but you can eliminate some distractions.

By pretending you’re on an airplane, you can act like your internet access is limited, you’re not able to get something from your bookcase, and you can’t make countless phone calls.

Eliminating these distractions will help you focus on your most important tasks and get them done without interruption.

14. Never stop.

Writers Anthony Trollope and Henry James started writing their next books as soon as they finished their current work in progress.

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Stephen King writes every day of the year, and holds himself accountable for 2,000 words a day! Mark Twain wrote every day, and then read his day’s work aloud to his family to get their feedback.

There’s something to be said about working nonstop, and putting out continuous work instead of taking a break. It’s just a momentum that will push you go further./

15. Be in tune with your body.

Your mind and body will get tired of a task after ninety minutes to two hours focused on it. Keep this in mind as you assign projects to yourself throughout the day, and take breaks to ensure that you won’t get burned out.

16. Try different methods.

Vladimir Nabokov wrote the first drafts of his novels on index cards. This made it easy to rearrange sentences, paragraphs, and chapters by shuffling the cards around.

It does sound easier, and more fun, than copying and pasting in Word! Once Nabokov liked the arrangement, his wife typed them into a single manuscript.

Same for you, don’t give up and think that it’s impossible for you to be productive when one method fails. Try different methods until you find what works perfectly for you.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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