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8 Incredible Productivity Tools to Help Make Better Use of Your Time

8 Incredible Productivity Tools to Help Make Better Use of Your Time

It has been said again and again that time is money. To this same sentiment, if time is wasted, then that is money wasted as well. Use any combination of these tools to stop wasting time and get back on track with your productivity. These tools will cut down on time spent doing things other than work while simultaneously streamlining your process for being more productive. Use them on your mobile and desktop device; you’ll have access whenever you need it so that you spend less time on the masses of small tasks that accumulate throughout the day.

1. Toggl

This simple tool is used for tracking time. All that you need to do is click the button for Toggl, and the timer will begin. It is a very simple yet effective way to track the time that it takes you to complete any number of tasks. The program will also allow you to view reports regarding the time and see how much time you are investing on different projects throughout the week or whatever specified amount of time.

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2. Evernote

This app is capable of saving audio and text notes, setting reminders, uploading attachments, and organizing photos and all of these things can become synced across all mobile and desktop devices. There is a feature within the app that allows the user to clip items from the web and store them for later use. This app is perfect if you are regularly using multiple devices.

3. Hootsuite

Hootsuite has been around for a while and is the go-to program for those who manage multiple social media accounts. This program allows users to manage and monitor all of their activity on social media sites on one simple dashboard. Users can schedule posts, assign tasks to team members, measure performance, organize Twitter followers and lists, and so much more.

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4. Google Drive

Along with Google Docs and Spreadsheets, Google drive assists in sharing and editing many types of files. Those who are members of a team can chat about projects and share notes within a specific document. It is free to use, so this revolutionary program should not be overlooked or missed out on.

5. IFTTT

This stands for “If This, Then That”. Essentially, this program allows you to create (or use existing) “recipes” that will connect apps and services to work together to complete a specified task. As an example, you can create an IFTTT recipe that will automatically upload your photos to Instagram to your Google Drive account. You will have the ability to create intricate integration without the need for programming experience. The use goes way beyond just social media. You can set up automatic emails to be sent if the weather forecasts suddenly indicate rain, or anything else.

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6. Google Alerts

If you have ever wondered where your company or brand is being mentioned on the internet, Google Alerts has your back. You can receive an instant notification whenever your specified term is mentioned anywhere on the internet. This helps to keep marketing efforts in line as well as making sure that you are grabbing the links from anyone that is mentioning your business.

7. Unroll.Me

This program helps to organize your inbox by gathering all of your selected newsletters into a single email bundle that can be opened and read at a later date. It helps to hide annoying email clutter and can list all of your email subscriptions. The program comes with an unsubscribe button so that you can easily remove yourself from any list.

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8. StayFocused

Perhaps this is the productivity tool to end all productivity tools. StayFocused is an unpaid extension for Chrome that will limit the amount of time that you can spend on websites that are deemed as time wasters, like Facebook. This tool can be totally customized; choose which websites to block, pick specific pages to be blocked, and how long to block them for.

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Last Updated on October 22, 2019

How to Focus and Concentrate Better to Boost Productivity

How to Focus and Concentrate Better to Boost Productivity

We live in a world of massive distraction. No matter where you are today, there is always going to be distractions. Your colleagues talking about their latest date, notification messages popping up on your screens, and not just your mobile phone screens. And even if you try to find a quiet place, there will always be someone with a mobile device that is beeping and chirping.

With all these distractions, it is incredibly difficult to concentrate on anything for very long. Something will distract you and that means you will find it very difficult to focus on anything.

So how to focus and concentrate better? How to focus better and produce work that lifts us and takes us closer towards achieving our outcomes?

1. Get Used to Turning off Your Devices

Yes, I know this one is hard for most people. We believe our devices are so vital to our lives that the thought of turning them off makes us feel insecure. The reality is they are not so vital and the world is not going to end within the next thirty minutes.

So turn them off. Your battery will thank you for it. More importantly though is when you are free from your mobile distraction addiction, you will begin to concentrate more on what needs to get done.

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You do not need to do this for very long. You could set a thirty-minute time frame for being completely mobile free. Let’s say you have an important piece of work to complete by lunchtime today. Turn off your mobile device between 10 am and 11 am and see what happens.

If you have never done this before, you will feel very uncomfortable at first. Your brain will be fighting you. It will be telling you all sorts of horror stories such as a meteorite is about to hit earth, or your boss is very angry and is trying to contact you. None of these things is true, but your brain is going to fight you. Prepare yourself for the fight.

Over time, as you do this more frequently, you will soon begin to find your brain fights you less and less. When you do turn on your device after your period of focused work and discover that the world did not end, you have not lost an important customer and all you have are a few email newsletters, a confirmation of an online order you made earlier and a text message from your mum asking you to call about dinner this weekend, you will start to feel more comfortable turning things off.

2. Create a Playlist in Your Favourite Music Streaming App

Many of us listen to music using some form of music streaming service, and it is very easy to create our own playlists of songs. This means we can create playlists for specific purposes.

Many years ago, when I was just starting to drive, there was a trend selling driving compilation tapes and CDs. The songs on these tapes and CDs were uplifting driving music songs. Songs such as C W McCall’s Convoy theme and the Allman Brothers Band’s, Jessica. They were great songs to drive to and helped to keep us awake and focused while we were driving.

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Today, we can create playlists to help us to focus on our work. Choose non-vocal music that has a low tempo. Music from artists such as Ben Böhmer, Ilan Bluestone or Andrew Bayer has the perfect tempo.

Whenever you want to go into deep, focused work, listen to that playlist. What happens is your brain soon associates when you listen to the playlist you created with focused work and it’s time to concentrate on what it is you want to do.

3. Have a Place to Go to When You Need to Concentrate

If you eat, surf online and read at your desk, you will find your desk a very distracting place to do your work. One way to get your brain to understand it is focused work time is, to use the same place each time for just focused work.

This could be a quiet place in your office, or it could be a special coffee shop you use specifically for focused work. Again, what you are doing is associating an environment with focus.

Just as with having a playlist to listen to when you want to concentrate, having a physical place that accomplishes the same thing will also put you in the right frame of mind to be more focused.

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When you do find the right place to do your focused work, then only do focused work there. Never surf, never do any online shopping. Just do your work and then leave. You want to be training your brain to associate focused work with that environment and nothing else.

If you need to make a phone call, respond to an email or message, then go outside and do it. From now on, this place is your special working place and that is all you use it for.

Every morning, I do fifteens minutes of meditation. Each time, I sit down to do my meditation, I use the same music playlist and the same place. As soon as I put my earphones in and sit down in this place, my mind immediately knows it is meditation time and I become relaxed and focused almost immediately. I have trained my brain over a few months to associate a sound and a place with relaxed, thoughtful meditation. It works.

4. Get up and Move

We humans have a limited attention span. How long you can stay focused for depends on your own personal makeup. It can range from between twenty minutes to around two hours. With practice, you can stay focused for longer, but it takes time and it takes a lot of practice.

When you do find yourself being unable to concentrate any longer, get up from where you are and move. Go for a walk, move around and get some air. Do something completely different from what you were doing when you were concentrating.

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If you were writing a report in front of a screen, get away from your screens and look out the window and appreciate the view. Take a walk in the local park, or just walk around your office. You need to give your brain completely different stimuli.

Your brain is like a muscle. There is only so much it can do before it fatigues. If you are doing some focused work in Photoshop and then switch to surfing the internet, you are not giving your brain any rest. You are still using many of the same parts of your brain.

It’s like doing fifty pushups and then immediately trying to do bench presses. Although you are doing a different exercise, you are still exercising your chest. What you need to be doing to build up superior levels of concentrated focus is, in a sense, do fifty pushups and then a session of squats. Now you are exercising your chest and then your legs. Two completely different exercises.

Do the same with your brain. Do focused visual work and then do some form of movement with a different type of work. Focused visual work followed by a discussion with a colleague about another unrelated piece of work, for example.

The Bottom Line

It is not difficult to train your brain to become better at concentrating and focusing, but you do need to exercise deliberate practice. You need to develop the intention to focus and be very strict with yourself.

Set time aside in your calendar and make sure you tell your colleagues that you will be ‘off the grid’ for a couple of hours. With practice and a little time, you will soon find yourself being able to resist temptations and focus better.

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Featured photo credit: Wenni Zhou via unsplash.com

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