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5 Productivity Tools For 2017

5 Productivity Tools For 2017

If New Year’s resolutions are not on your mind then they probably should be. With the new year set to start in less than two weeks, most people are likely starting to ponder on how they are going to do better in 2016. Sure, New Year’s resolutions typically only last a few weeks, but that is because they typically only take a single day to plan. Start planning now and make resolutions that you can keep, then figure out exactly how you are going to get yourself to accomplish those resolutions.

Luckily, every year that goes by comes with a slew of new and exciting apps and tools that help people become more productive. If you are looking for a few tools to make your 2017 a success, try these.

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1. Evernote

Evernote is nearly an all-inclusive productivity app. It is supposed to help people organize everything they are doing into one neat place. We are talking about files, notepads, and other types of information. The best part of Evernote is that it is on the cloud so that everyone that needs to can have access to the right content.

Think of Evernote as a digital version of that old planner that your mom used to carry around. Just as useful, twice as organized, hundreds of times more convenient.

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2. Toggl

Toggl is a way to keep track of your time. Sure, it might take a few extra seconds to keep track of everything you do, but studies show that people are significantly more productive when they know where their time is going. It is just a fact of life that when something is measured, it improves. The Toggl app works across pretty much every device as well, making it easy for everyone on a work team to succeed.

3. Hound

Another interesting name in productivity apps, Hound is essentially a much-improved version of Siri. You can ask Hound anything you want and it can forecast weather, find coffee shops, and quite a bit more. You don’t need to do keyword prompts or use any special phrases either.

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The way to know that Hound must be good is that it is succeeding in the Apple store. This means that people with access to Siri are still choosing to use Hound as an alternative. This is a good sign that Hound beats Siri.

One of our favorite features was the ability to narrow in search results. For example, you can not only tell Hound to find you a hotel, but you can tell it exactly what type of hotel you want it to find and how much you are willing to spend.

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4. Zapier

Zapier has been around for a little longer but is essentially a great way to automate processes in life and in the workplace. There are more processes available to automate than could possibly be said in one article. Suffice to say, nearly everyone in the world has at least a few processes that Zapier could make more efficient. Even if it just saves twenty seconds on a task that you do ten times a day, the savings in a month or year is astounding.

5. Google Drive

One would hope that everyone has heard of Google Drive, perhaps even used it at this point. However, one cannot write about tools for productivity without including Google Drive. Google Drive is the ultimate organizer for all files. This includes pictures, videos, Word files, Excel files, PDFs and more. It operates like a simple filing cabinet, except digitized.

A few of the best parts about Google Drive are the cost (it is free) and the cloud. You are able to access everything you have managed to digitize in seconds from any device that can access the internet. It is also great to know that Google is incredibly secure and has backups of everything in multiple locations.

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Stephanie Caudle

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Last Updated on August 6, 2020

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

We’ve all done it. That moment when a series of words slithers from your mouth and the instant regret manifests through blushing and profuse apologies. If you could just think before you speak! It doesn’t have to be like this, and with a bit of practice, it’s actually quite easy to prevent.

“Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.” – Napolean Hill

Are we speaking the same language?

My mum recently left me a note thanking me for looking after her dog. She’d signed it with “LOL.” In my world, this means “laugh out loud,” and in her world it means “lots of love.” My kids tell me things are “sick” when they’re good, and ”manck” when they’re bad (when I say “bad,” I don’t mean good!). It’s amazing that we manage to communicate at all.

When speaking, we tend to color our language with words and phrases that have become personal to us, things we’ve picked up from our friends, families and even memes from the internet. These colloquialisms become normal, and we expect the listener (or reader) to understand “what we mean.” If you really want the listener to understand your meaning, try to use words and phrases that they might use.

Am I being lazy?

When you’ve been in a relationship for a while, a strange metamorphosis takes place. People tend to become lazier in the way that they communicate with each other, with less thought for the feelings of their partner. There’s no malice intended; we just reach a “comfort zone” and know that our partners “know what we mean.”

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Here’s an exchange from Psychology Today to demonstrate what I mean:

Early in the relationship:

“Honey, I don’t want you to take this wrong, but I’m noticing that your hair is getting a little thin on top. I know guys are sensitive about losing their hair, but I don’t want someone else to embarrass you without your expecting it.”

When the relationship is established:

“Did you know that you’re losing a lot of hair on the back of your head? You’re combing it funny and it doesn’t help. Wear a baseball cap or something if you feel weird about it. Lots of guys get thin on top. It’s no big deal.”

It’s pretty clear which of these statements is more empathetic and more likely to be received well. Recognizing when we do this can be tricky, but with a little practice it becomes easy.

Have I actually got anything to say?

When I was a kid, my gran used to say to me that if I didn’t have anything good to say, I shouldn’t say anything at all. My gran couldn’t stand gossip, so this makes total sense, but you can take this statement a little further and modify it: “If you don’t have anything to say, then don’t say anything at all.”

A lot of the time, people speak to fill “uncomfortable silences,” or because they believe that saying something, anything, is better than staying quiet. It can even be a cause of anxiety for some people.

When somebody else is speaking, listen. Don’t wait to speak. Listen. Actually hear what that person is saying, think about it, and respond if necessary.

Am I painting an accurate picture?

One of the most common forms of miscommunication is the lack of a “referential index,” a type of generalization that fails to refer to specific nouns. As an example, look at these two simple phrases: “Can you pass me that?” and “Pass me that thing over there!”. How often have you said something similar?

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How is the listener supposed to know what you mean? The person that you’re talking to will start to fill in the gaps with something that may very well be completely different to what you mean. You’re thinking “pass me the salt,” but you get passed the pepper. This can be infuriating for the listener, and more importantly, can create a lack of understanding and ultimately produce conflict.

Before you speak, try to label people, places and objects in a way that it is easy for any listeners to understand.

What words am I using?

It’s well known that our use of nouns and verbs (or lack of them) gives an insight into where we grew up, our education, our thoughts and our feelings.

Less well known is that the use of pronouns offers a critical insight into how we emotionally code our sentences. James Pennebaker’s research in the 1990’s concluded that function words are important keys to someone’s psychological state and reveal much more than content words do.

Starting a sentence with “I think…” demonstrates self-focus rather than empathy with the speaker, whereas asking the speaker to elaborate or quantify what they’re saying clearly shows that you’re listening and have respect even if you disagree.

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Is the map really the territory?

Before speaking, we sometimes construct a scenario that makes us act in a way that isn’t necessarily reflective of the actual situation.

A while ago, John promised to help me out in a big way with a project that I was working on. After an initial meeting and some big promises, we put together a plan and set off on its execution. A week or so went by, and I tried to get a hold of John to see how things were going. After voice mails and emails with no reply and general silence, I tried again a week later and still got no response.

I was frustrated and started to get more than a bit vexed. The project obviously meant more to me than it did to him, and I started to construct all manner of crazy scenarios. I finally got through to John and immediately started a mild rant about making promises you can’t keep. He stopped me in my tracks with the news that his brother had died. If I’d have just thought before I spoke…

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