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Useful Time Management Tools And Tips To Gain More Time

Useful Time Management Tools And Tips To Gain More Time

Have you ever had the feeling that time runs out so fast and you can’t finish everything on time? Or sometimes you have a super long to-do list and you have no idea where to start with?

You’re not alone.

Fortunately there are a lot of time management tools that can help. And we’ve also prepared some practical time management tips plus some common mistakes people make.

Time management tools

Toggl: Keep track of your time

    Forget about the traditional timesheet. Toggl is the best tool for you to keep track of your time spent on different tasks. It consists of a timer and a dashboard which gives you an overview of how much time you have spent for different tasks in the past week.

    Panda Focus Mode: Stay Focused On Your Tasks

      Panda Focus Mode is an extension for you to stay focused on your daily tasks. You can simply enter your tasks to be finished on the day and then whenever you open a new tab, you will immediately see them as a reminder.

      Hocus Focus: Hide your inactive windows automatically

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        If you always open many apps and they often distract you from your work, you should try Hocus Focus. It is a Mac menu bar utility that hides your inactive windows.

        Forest: To beat internet addiction

          Forest is an interesting app that helps you to beat Internet addiction. When you press the button to plant a tree, you can’t switch to another app unless you give it up. It helps you to make good use of 30-minutes to fully concentrate on your work and finish it effectively.

          Trello: Organize Your Tasks Well

            Trello is a productive app allows a team of people to monitor on the same task together. You can categorize different tasks according to their natures. Everything is just at a glance.

            TimeTree: A neat overview of your schedule

              TimeTree is a user-friendly app allows you to arrange your schedule with your friends and family. You can share events with them so that you can discuss and confirm plans together. Sorting your schedules by updates allows you to review any updates instantly.

              Wunderlist: Clear to-do list with reminders

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                Are you looking for an app which allows you to create a comprehensive to-do list? Wunderlist might be the answer. It allows you to create different to-do lists and you can even add hashtags on each item of the lists.

                Todoist: Distraction-free to do list

                  Todoist has a simple and distraction-free design for you to stay focused and motivated. By breaking big tasks into smaller sub-tasks with multi-level, you can organize and review tasks in a better way. You can also easily add due dates using normal language, such as “monday at 2pm”.

                  Noizio: Ambient background sounds

                    Perhaps sometimes the noise of surroundings is the reason why you find it difficult to focus on your work. Here’s the solution: creating an ambient background sounds to find your comfort. You can even mix the sounds on your own.

                    Best time management tricks

                    Apart from the tools, there are also a number of tips that can make us much more productive.

                    Spend The First 90 Minutes On The Most Important Task

                    As our brain are most active in the morning, we should spend the first 90 minutes of the day on the most important task so that we can finish it efficiently. Stop doing trivial matters like scrolling the to-do list or checking emails in the morning. You would miss the golden time of getting things done.

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                    Have A Timesheet To Keep Track Of What You Have Done

                    A timesheet is the simplest and perhaps the best tool to have a clear picture of what you have done in each time slot.

                    By dividing your day into different time slots and filling in what you have done, you can compare the reality and the expectation. Did you finish your task as expected? Or did you spend too much time on it? And why? You might also see how much you have improved on your efficiency day by day.

                    Create A Stop-doing List

                    Instead of a to-do list, which most people have, a world-class productive person should have a stop-doing list.

                    You might find yourself spending too much time on things that don’t really matter. That’s probably the key to manage your time in a better way and become more efficient. Stop scrolling social media at work and quit doing all those meaningless things. These might be the items you would write on your list.

                    Set Time Limit

                    Work expands itself if we allocate more time to a task. That’s what the Pakinson’s law about. In other words, as Cyril Northcote Parkinson writes, [1]

                    If you give yourself a week to complete a one day task, then (psychologically speaking) the task will increase in complexity and become more daunting so as to fill that week.

                    So set time limit. If you can finish a task within an hour, then next time, try to finish it with 50 minutes. By allocating less time to a task, you would gradually figure out the actual time needed for you to finish it without wasting any time.

                    Identify Your Peak Hours And Schedule The Most Important Tasks For Those Hours

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                    Everyone has different working patterns. What’s important is to identify your own peak hours.

                    Our brain has limited attention span and it varies among people. So it’s important to organize your day around your body’s natural rhythms. Try to schedule your most important task for this period and work on minor tasks during your non-peak times. For example, arrange an appointment with a client during your peak hours and check emails during your non-peak times.

                    And Here Are The Don’ts:

                    Make Checking Email The First Thing To Do At Work

                    Checking email seems to be the vert first thing you have to do at work. But that’s not the case.

                    It is not the most important thing at work and it gives you an illusion that you’re achieving something. Think about it: what have you achieved actually after marking all emails read? Probably you have something more important to work on.

                    Multitask And Think That Would Make You More Efficient

                    Some people believe multitasking do work. But expert tells us that it brings harm to our brain: [2]

                    In fact, multitasking was found to increase the production of cortisol, a stress hormone, as well as adrenaline, which can overstimulate the brain and cause “mental fog”.

                    Put simply, the more information you have to handle, the less time you have to give it the thought it deserves. When you enter a “mental fog”, you start making poor decisions or responding irrationally. So don’t try to do research for an article and write it at the same time. This probably takes you a longer time.

                    Not Taking Breaks

                    Taking breaks is not a waste of time. In fact, it boosts our productivity.

                    As we know our brain has a limited attention span, there is no use in working for consecutively for a long period. After an hour or two, we begin to lose focus. That’s the time for you to take a little short break and give your brain some fresh air to recharge. Have a cup of tea or grab some snacks to eat. The valuable down-time enables you to think creatively and work effectively.

                    It is fair for everyone. Regardless of age, gender, occupation, and anything, everyone has 24 hours a day. But why some people can do that much within just a single day? The key is time management. With suitable tools and smart tricks, you can maximize your productivity and succeed in whatever your goal is.

                    Reference

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                    Sheba Leung

                    Translator. Sport lover. Traveler.

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                    Last Updated on October 17, 2018

                    7 Natural (And Highly Effective) Ways to Improve Memory

                    7 Natural (And Highly Effective) Ways to Improve Memory

                    How is your memory? Is your cognitive function as strong as you’d like it to be?

                    If not, then you’re definitely going to be interested in the memory improvement tips I’ll be sharing with you in this article.

                    Despite what you might think – or have been told – improving your ability to recall information is certainly possible. You just need to know the right ways to do it. (Don’t worry, as you won’t need to make any significant lifestyle changes.)

                    So how to improve memory? Let’s dive straight into the first of seven easy ways to improve your memory significantly.

                    1. Meditate

                    We live in a world of non-stop, 24/7 information. It’s like a waterfall that’s endlessly pouring news, data, facts and figures into our conscious minds.

                    Unfortunately, our brains are not designed to absorb this tremendous amount of information. It’s no wonder then, that most people struggle to remember information and recall things.

                    Even if you believe you have a good memory and are comfortable with multi-tasking, you’ll also be aware that there’s only so much information your brain can process at one time. And research suggests that the more information and distractions, the harder it is for you to transfer information to your long-term memory.[1]

                    Fortunately, meditation can help you out.

                    Even if you just meditate for 10 minutes per day, you’ll boost your ability to focus, which in turn, will make it easier for you to remember important facts.

                    If you need help in shifting into a meditative state, I recommend trying an app like Headspace – which can assist you to achieve this in a convenient and structured way.

                    And don’t forget, meditation doesn’t just have to be closing your eyes and sitting in a lotus position. Some people prefer to simply take a short walk in nature. This clears and calms their mind, and still provides the all-important boost to their focus.

                    2. Get plenty of sleep

                    If you’re sleep deprived or have not been sleeping well, then I’m guessing you’re not remembering well either. This is because sleep and memory are intimately connected.

                    If you have a busy life and regularly find yourself not getting enough sleep, then this will negatively impact your cognitive abilities – including your memory.

                    How much sleep should you be getting?

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                    Well, according to the National Sleep Foundation, you need a minimum of seven to nine hours of sleep per night. If you get this amount of sleep regularly, then within just a few days, you’ll see a tangible improvement to your ability to remember and recall things.

                    Now, I’ll be honest with you, maintaining a proper sleep cycle is not always easy (especially when the latest Netflix series has just been released!). But if you care about improving your short-term and long-term ability to remember things, then it’s critical that you try to get at least the recommended amount of sleep every night.

                    Are there ways to hack the sleep cycle?

                    Yes, there are.

                    Try these three things:

                    • Have a fixed bedtime (preferably before 10pm)
                    • Don’t eat too late
                    • Make sure your bedroom is as dark as possible

                    Sleeping is a precious activity. It regenerates your body, clears your mind, and helps with the storing and retrieval of information.

                    However, don’t sleep just yet, as I want to tell you about another great way to increase memory…

                    3. Challenge your brain

                    When was the last time you challenged your brain?

                    I don’t mean challenged in the sense of overeating or undersleeping. I’m referring to stretching your mental capabilities through things like crossword puzzles, Sudoku and memory games.

                    To expand your memory bank, and to make your recall razor-sharp, you need to continually challenge your brain.

                    Feedback from Lifehack readers such as yourself, has suggested that brain training apps are a super-effective way of doing this. Used regularly, these apps can enhance your focus, attention span, problem-thinking ability and memory.

                    There are hundreds of these apps available (most of them for free), but I recommend starting out with one of the big three:

                    • Peak (Android/iOS, free, 10 million+ downloads)
                    • Lumosity (Android/iOS, free, 10 million+ downloads)
                    • Elevate (Android/iOS, free, 5 million+ downloads)

                    If you normally spend a chunk of your week playing computer games, then instead of shooting and killing your enemies, why not let some of them live – while you put your attention into boosting your brain power!

                    Challenging your brain will strengthen your neural pathways and enhance your mental abilities. But don’t just take my word for it, try one of the apps above and see the positive benefits for yourself.

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                    4. Take more breaks

                    When I think back to my days as a budding entrepreneur, I distinctively remember working all the hours under the sun – and many under the moon too!

                    At that time, I believed that breaks were for the weak, and to become wealthy and successful, I needed to shed blood, sweat and tears.

                    However, I was wrong.

                    Taking regular breaks is the best way to keep yourself productive, creative and alive to opportunities. It’s also the best way to learn new information.

                    Let me explain.

                    Typically, when studying lots of new information, most people will spend hours reading it – in an attempt to learn and remember the content as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, they’ve overlooked something.

                    Namely, extended study sessions are rarely a good thing, as your ability to retain information naturally declines after a certain period of time.

                    It’s similar to physical exercise. You wouldn’t attempt to train vigorously for four hours in a row. Instead, you’d take regular breaks to give your lungs, heart and muscles adequate time to recover. Failing to do this will result in muscle cramps and overexertion.

                    It’s the same with your brain. If you overload it with information, you’ll suffer from mental fatigue.

                    What’s the answer?

                    Make sure you take regular breaks when learning new information. I recommend at least a 10-minute break every hour. (You may also want to take a look at the Pomodoro Method.)

                    If you don’t want to be as regimented as that, then take breaks as soon as you find yourself losing the ability to focus on the new material. Your brain will thank you – and your learning aptitude will move up a level.

                    5. Learn a new skill

                    I love this quote, as it’s 100% true – but frequently overlooked:

                    “Learning never exhausts the mind.” – Leonardo da Vinci

                    From my experience of helping to develop the careers of dozens of Lifehack employees, I can definitively say that participating in meaningful and purposeful activities stimulates the mind. It also reduces stress and enhances health and well-being.

                    Let me give you an example of this:

                    Imagine you work for a global financial institution in one of their call centers. You take over 100 calls a day – many of them complaints. When you started the job a few months back, you were excited to be in full-time employment and working for a household name.

                    Unfortunately, your initial enthusiasm quickly turned into frustration.

                    The endless complaint calls began to take their toll on you. And the supervisors irritated you too, as they were far too interested in micro-managing you – rather than letting you work in your own way.

                    Now, in the story above, the ending could be that you put up with a job you didn’t like, and led a dull and frustrated working life for years and years. However, an alternative ending is this: you channeled your dissatisfaction in to learning a new skill (computer coding). It took you a year or two to get up to speed, but it allowed you to successfully upgrade your career – and the ongoing learning made the call centre job much more bearable.

                    Clearly, learning new skills gives you impetus, focus and something to aim for. Your brain loves to learn, and you should tap into this by always seeking our new information. And when learning becomes a habit, you’ll find your ability to remember and recall things effortlessly, becomes a habit too.

                    6. Start working out

                    If you’re not already working out regularly, then here’s another reason to do so:

                    Exercising for 20-30 minutes three times a week will improve your long-term memory.

                    Regular exercise increases blood flow in your body and supplies the brain with extra oxygen and nutrients. And a well-nourished brain is a well-functioning brain!

                    “But I just don’t have the time?,” I hear you say.

                    Not a problem.

                    A research has shown that a daily burst of 60 seconds of high-intensity exercise, offered many of the benefits of the longer exercise routines.[2] So, if you’re short on time – now you know what to do.

                    Interested in getting started?

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                    Here are five different ways that will help you work out:

                    • Join a gym
                    • Join a sports team
                    • Buy a bike
                    • Take up hiking
                    • Dance to your favorite music

                    7. Eat healthier foods

                    I’m sure you’ve heard the expression: “You are what you eat.”

                    This applies to your brain too.

                    The food that you eat helps determine your brain’s capacity to store and recall information. A poor diet (think junk food + soda!) harms not just your physical health, but your mental health too.

                    Fortunately, there are several foods that are especially good for your brain and your memory. These include: blueberries, celery and dark chocolate. But anything high in antioxidants will have a positive effect on your brain and memory.

                    Conversely, highly-processed foods and those loaded with sugar will have a negative impact on your memory. This is due to them providing insufficient nutrients for your brain – leading you to easily suffer from mental fatigue.

                    Want to be mentally healthy? Then eat and drink an abundance of these for brain health:

                    • Turmeric – helps new brain cells grown
                    • Broccoli – protects the brain against damage
                    • Nuts – improves memory
                    • Green tea – enhances brain performance, memory and focus[3]
                    • Fish oilfish oil supplements can increase your brain power

                    Here’re more brain food options that improve memory!

                    Final thoughts

                    I sincerely hope these seven memory boosting ways that I’ve covered in this article will be of help to you.

                    You don’t need to implement them all. I suggest just trying the ones that appeal to you.

                    But, if you’re serious about dramatically improving your memory, then make a start right now on adopting one or more of the ways I’ve suggested. I’m confident you won’t regret it.

                    Featured photo credit: Eric Ward via unsplash.com

                    Reference

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