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Published on September 28, 2018

Why Use Productivity Tracker Apps? 11 Ways They Can Change Your Life

Why Use Productivity Tracker Apps? 11 Ways They Can Change Your Life

The life of a modern man is very busy; it is subject to the tough schedule with many things to do, meetings and events to attend.

At one time, about 50 years ago, a simple paper diary became literally a revolution in the work organization and affairs planning. Nowadays, in the modern world of information and gadgets, the paper diary became an anachronism – digital solutions have come into play. It is much more convenient to use programs for planning and productivity tracking.

These are usually different digital calendars, programs task scheduling analysis, to-do lists, etc. All these digital tools assist a lot in organizing business routine and reach a high-level productivity. So what is the practical benefit of productivity tracker apps and how can they change your life? Let us get all this straightened out.

1. Track Where You Spend Time Mostly

Whatever program you decide to use, it allows you to set/ track tasks for yourself and your colleagues, assign responsible ones, co-executors, or simply specify observers.

Performance tracking applications can provide a report on where you or your team are spending time. Despite the fact that there is nothing wrong with viewing such reports, for someone it seems very difficult and will take a few hours to dive into the thematic sections analysis.

If you are working with any tracking activity, then using any application, you, at least, realize how much time you spend on it.

2. Plan Your Work

Using performance tracking software raises an understanding of how much time is spent in general for performing various tasks. Thus, you can manage your workload easily.

Knowing how much time is needed for completing a particular type of tasks, you can optimize the work to be done during the day and make sure your “to-do” list is well managed. Therefore, it easies your work planning and task management. As a result, you feel less tired at the end of the day and do your work more effectively.

3. Boost Your Productivity

Think about how you use your time, time tracking applications can boost your productivity.

When using the application, you derive a regularity of being more efficient than a day before. There is no necessity of you always succeeding in everything, but knowing that there is some application that monitors what you do makes you optimize your work.

So every time, you go to Facebook, you log out and think how it would affect your productivity.

4. Calculate Your Wage

If you have an hourly rate, time tracking software makes billing much easier. Instead of approximately estimating how long it will take to complete a task, using the application you will know exactly how many hours it will take to complete each part of the project.

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This means that you can quickly bill customers for the tasks they you to work on, which is why many time tracking applications include a way to create accounts.

5. Reduce the Risk of Invoice Dispute

The time tracking software also provides you with a measure of protection against anyone who disputes the invoice that you have issued. If the client disputes what you have done, you have a way to show the exact time spent on their project.

Although this is not a magic shield, but in case of a dispute, it will cover your sit-upon.

6. Manage to Achieve More Goals

With the proper understanding of you performance rates and time frames necessary for managing particular tasks, it is easier to set goals and reach them.

What is more, performance tracking software will help you find out the peak time of your performance rate; thus, you can schedule the most important meetings and work on the most complex tasks during that time. Plan your day effectively!

7. Become Successful in All Spheres of Activity

Proper planning of your day and workload will free some time for both your personal and professional development. Thus, time that you have previously spent on working on regular tasks can be now used with the great benefit to you.

Performance tracking software will help you become successful in all the spheres of your activity. You may have been formerly busy and have no time for development and learning new things.

Performance tracking software will help you find a balance and achieve goals that were impossible to reach before.

8. Have More Time for Yourself

It is impossible to be efficient without a proper rest and switching your mind from the work to relax mode. Each person should have some time for self-improvement, recreation, hobbies, and staying with his beloved ones.

Unfortunately, for a modern man, it is today difficult to free up his tough schedule and find a window of time to dedicate it to recreation, hobbies, or staying for his close people.

This is where performance tracking software can help a lot. This digital instrument will assist you in elaborating the most effective and easy-to-manage schedule.

Perform tasks faster than those who do not know what time management is and do not use it. After a short period of using performance tracking software, you will be able to cope with many different things without feeling stressed and tired.

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9. Forget about Constant Fatigue

You’ll become less prone to stress and will not experience emotional fatigue when you’ve planned for a working day.

Even if you had less tasks in your to-do list but spent half of the day on Facebook, you will feel tired in the evening.

It is way more efficient to plan your day based on results of your performance rates being tracked. Therefore, you will never overload yourself with tasks and will not spend hours in social networks.

Instead, you will know when it is necessary to take a break and how much time to dedicate to it so that you are not in delay.

10. Have a Clear Plan of Action

When using performance tracking software, you always know how to act when working on complex and challenging tasks. The idea is that you divide a big task into smaller sub-tasks and handle a complex assignment step-by-step. Thus, you always have a clear plan of action and follow it closely.

You know when to take a coffee break and when it is better to work efficiently without being disturbed and abstracting from the task. Performance tracking software will help you elaborate the most effective plan of action when dealing the most complicated tasks.

11. Control Your Life

Everyone of us would like to control our life and take the maximum out of it. Unfortunately, it is not always possible. We are all busy, and if not busy, we feel tired after a hard working day.

To avoid the feeling of being а fagged-out person and to free up your calendar, using a performance tracking and task planning software will be of great service to you.

Once you start tracking your time and paying close attention to your daily activities, you can control your life as you wish.

Forget about staying at work till late hours. Spend this time with your family or friends instead. It is not about doing your work worse or taking less tasks; it is more about increasing your performance and spending no time on useless and “for-fun” stuff.

Productivity Apps to Strat Tracking Your Performance

Do you have a plan for the day? And how many points from it do you usually perform? Do you manage to cope with all the tasks you set, eat, and rest normally? Do you have time for your family and friends?

For proper self-organization and high performance, it is not necessary to keep all thoughts and plans in your head or notebook. Instead, you can rely on applications aimed at tracking your performance and boosting it.

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Finding a good task planner and performance tracker is perhaps the first thing a modern man needs to do when he buys a smartphone, pc, or tablet. And this is one of the most useful features of mobile devices, especially for those who are not used to planning their tasks and projects in a paper diary.

There are a lot of different task managers in the AppStore. Some of them are good, while others have poor functionality and cost a lot. That’s why we have decided to help you with the search and have picked five convenient planners that will help you set global goals, plan your life, and compile wish lists.

Toggl: Work Hours Time Tracker

    Time management is the global problem of the 21st century: everyone talks about it, everyone wants to get it. However, very few people understand and effectively organize their working day.

    Time tracker Toggl makes registration in client projects easier, so you can keep track of how much time was spent on client projects, and how many hours have been dedicated to coping with company projects.

    And knowing the costs of your time, you can plan further work and your workload.

    Download Toggl

    Remember The Milk

      Now you will never forget to buy milk. Remember The Milk is a handy to-do list for busy people; the application will send a reminder to you even on Twitter. You can plan everything from shopping lists to important meetings.

      A user-friendly interface, not obtrusive, but insistent, notifications help you plan your time effectively.

      Download Remember the Milk

      Evernote

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        A modern workspace that can sync with all your gadgets and work in an offline mode. You can write notes, compile lists, organize materials, add articles to the reading from the Internet, collect data for work, and discuss tasks with other users.

        Download Evernote

        Basecamp 3

          The application will allow you to simultaneously manage several projects, current tasks and elaborate business plans. By the way, the utility can be used by the whole team thus increasing its performance exponentially.

          What is more, in this application, you can work with documents and give access to them to other employees.

          Download Basecamp

          The bottom line

          Time is a limited resource that is constantly consumed. Unfortunately, you cannot stop using it, and you are not able to restore its reserves. Nevertheless, you need to do your best to ensure all the planned tasks are done qualitatively and in time. From planning meetings to fulfilling assignments – time is behind every aspect of doing business, and you can not afford to dispose of it badly.

          Ineffective time management can manifest itself in different ways. Procrastination, distraction due to personal affairs or complicated projects, there are many things that take a lot of our time every day. This is because the wasted time that you break your life-work balance, feel more stress, and are faced with tough deadlines.

          Fortunately, today’s modern technologies can offer us a lot of opportunities for more productive time management. Free up your schedule, find time for your personal life, and focus on doing important work. Start using performance tracking applications today already!

          Featured photo credit: Andrew Neel via unsplash.com

          More by this author

          John Obstander

          John is a productivity geek and a writing enthusiast who has no limits and got wings to take over the world.

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          Last Updated on April 23, 2019

          How to Set Stretch Goals and Keep Your Team Motivated

          How to Set Stretch Goals and Keep Your Team Motivated

          Stretch goals are a lot like physical fitness. When you adopt a physical sport such as running, continual practice leads to increased stamina, growth and progress.

          While commitment to the sport improves performance, true growth happens when you are stretched beyond your comfort zone. I know this from personal experience.

          For years, I was an avid runner. I ran with a variety of running groups in the Washington, D.C., area and in Columbus, Ohio, where I lived prior to moving to the nation’s capital in 2011.

          While I was initially fearful about slacking off on my exercise habit when I moved to D.C., running enthusiasts in the area provided continual motivation, inspiring me to lace up my shoes day after day. Much to my surprise, many of the area’s running stores (including Pacers and Potomac River Running) boasted running groups that met in the mornings and evenings. So, it was relatively easy for a newcomer like me to connect with like-minded peers.

          I was never a particularly fast runner, but I enjoyed the afterglow of the sport: being completely drained but feeling a sense of accomplishment; setting and reaching goals; buying and wearing out new tennis shoes. The sound of throngs of feet pounding the pavement in semi-unison is still enough to bring tears to my eyes. Yes, I sometimes tear up at the start of races.

          Of all the groups I ran with, the Pacers Store group that met on Monday nights in Logan Circle boasted the fastest runners. I met up with the group week after week only to be the slowest runner. It was difficult to muster the courage to get up every week and meet the group knowing what was waiting for me: sweating and watching the backs of fellow runners.

          Each time I joined the group, I was stretching myself without even realizing it. Instead of feeling like I was transitioning into a better running, for a long time I felt I was torturing myself.

          Then something remarkable happened. I went for a run with a different set of runners and noticed my time had improved. I was running at a faster pace and doing so with ease. What was once uncomfortable for me I now handled with ease.

          The reason I was becoming a better runner was because I was taking myself out of my comfort zone and challenging myself physically and mentally. This example illustrates the process of growth.

          Fortunately, we can create situations that stretch us in our personal and professional lives.

          What Is a Stretch Goal?

          A stretch goal – as authors Sim B. Sitkin, C. Chet Miller and Kelly E. See detail an article “The Stretch Goal Paradox” in Harvard Business Review[1] – is something that is extremely difficult and novel. It is something that not everyone does, and it’s sometimes considered impossible.

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          In general, you establish stretch goals by doing things that are difficult or temporarily challenging.

          For instance, when I was first promoted to a senior communications management role, I knew I needed to beef up my relationships with media personalities. I set a goal to once a month book a day of media interviews in New York City – which is home to many media outlets, including SiriusXM radio, CNN, NBC News, HuffPost, VIBE.

          This was a huge goal because it meant not only identifying the right people to meet with but convincing them to meet with me and my team. While I didn’t end up meeting the goal of doing a full day of media interviews in New York City, I met more people than I would have met had I not established the goal and instead stayed in the comfort of my D.C. office.

          It is important to note that just because you establish a stretch goal doesn’t mean you’ll achieve the goal each time. However, the process of trying is guaranteed to provide some level of growth.

          The Importance of Creating Stretch Goals

          The beginning of the year is a perfect time to assess where you are excelling and where there is room for you to grow. I typically start the year by creating a yearlong strategic plan for myself.

          I think about the things that are necessary to do and things that would be cool to do. I assess the people I should know and think through how to meet them. Then I ask myself if the goals are realistic and what would need to happen for me to achieve them.

          Over time, I have learned that there are five things I can do to set stretch goals:

          1. Get Outside of Your Head

          If I exist within the confines of my imagination, I imperil my own growth and creativity.

          If I examine my accomplishments and celebrate them in isolation of others’ accomplishments, my vantage point is limited.

          I want to be comfortable with what I accomplish, but I also want to be motivated by watching others. In some respects, stretching is about expanding your network of friends, associates and mentors. These are the people who will propel or slow your growth and development.

          Since two are better than one, I always value being able to share my progress with others, seek feedback and then map a plan for success.

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          2. Focus on a Couple Areas at a Time

          When setting goals, it is important to focus on a couple of areas at a time. Most of us are only able to focus on a few things at a time, and if you feel you are unable to tackle all that is before you, you may simply disengage.

          I see this in so many areas of life:

          When people get in debt, if they believe the debt is insurmountable, they refuse to look at incoming bills for fear of facing down the debt. Unfortunately, many businesses go awry when setting stretch goals.

          In “The Stretch Goal Paradox,” Sitkin, Miller and See note:

          “Our research suggests that though the use of stretch goals is quite common, successful use is not. And many executives set far too many stretch goals. In the past five years, for example, Tesla failed to meet more than 20 of founder Elon Musk’s ambitious projections and missed half of them by nearly a year, according to the Wall Street Journal.”

          Goal-setting is like a marathon, not a sprint. It doesn’t all need to happen at the same time, and pacing is extremely important if you want to get to the finish line. It is better to focus on a couple goals at a time, master them and then move on to the next thing.

          3. Set Aside Time Each Year to Focus on Goal-Setting

          When I was a managing director for communications for the Advancement Project, I spent the first part of every year facilitating a communications planning meeting.

          The planning meeting began with the team members assessing the goals the team had established in the preceding year, and whether those goals were realistic or not. If we failed to meet certain goals, we broke down why that happened. From there, we brainstormed about possibilities for the current year.

          For instance, one year we set a goal of pitching and getting 24 opinion essays published. This was audacious because no one on the eight-person team had the luxury of focusing exclusively on editing and pitching opinion essays to publications around the world. We would need to focus on pitching in between the rest of our work.

          We hit this goal within the first eight months of the year. Remarkably, in total, we ended up getting 40 opinion essays published that year, which was an indication that our original goal was too low. We upped the goal to 41 the next year, and amazingly, we hit 42 published opinion essays or guest columns.

          From this experience, we not only learned what was feasible, we also learned the power of focus.

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          When we focused as a team on getting the commentary on our issues out in the public domain, we were successful. The key in all of this is that there was a ton of discussion around which goal we’d pursue and why.

          Equally important, as a manager, I didn’t set the goals alone; the team members and I established the goals collaboratively. This ensured buy-in from each individual.

          4. Use the S.M.A.R.T. Goal Model to Set Realistic Goals

          S.M.A.R.T.

          is a synonym for specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound. For the sake of this article, the realistic portion of the acronym is most important.

          While you want to set audacious goals, you want to ensure that they are realistic as well. No one is served by setting a goal that is impossible to accomplish.

          Failing to meet goals can be demoralizing for teams, so it’s important to be sober-eyed about what is possible. Additionally, the purpose of setting goals is to advance and grow, not depress morale.

          For instance, my team would have been discouraged had I begun the year asking it to pitch and place 40 opinion essays if we didn’t already have a track record of placing close to two dozen essays.

          By using the S.M.A.R.T. formula, we were able to achieve all that we set out to do.

          5. Break the Goal up into Small Digestible Parts

          I am a recovering perfectionist. As a writer, being a perfectionist can be counterproductive because I can fail to start if I don’t see a clear pathway to victory.

          The same is true with goal-setting. That’s why I join Lifehack’s fellow contributor Deb Knobelman, Ph.D., in noting that it is critically important to break goals into bite-sized chunks.

          When I had a goal of doing daylong media meetings in New York City, I had to think through all the barriers to achieving that goal and all the steps required to meet the goal.

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          One step was identifying which reporters, producers and hosts to engage. Another step was writing a pitch or meeting invitation that would capture their attention. Another step was thinking through the program areas I wanted to highlight and the new angles I could offer to different reporters.

          Since reporters want to cover stories that no one else has written, I needed to come up with fresh angles for each of the reporters I was engaging. An additional step was thinking through who from my team I’d take with me to the various meetings.

          I was clear that, as a talking head, as public relations reps are sometimes called, I needed the right spokesperson in order to land repeated meetings with different outlets.

          A final step was thinking through what I needed to bring to each meeting and which reports, videos and testimonials would buttress our claims and be of interest to media figures.

          As I walked through what was needed to bring my goal of doing daylong meetings to reality, I realized that not only was the idea within reach, but I was excited to tackle the challenge.

          From that point until now, I have learned to break down goals into smaller parts and tackle the smaller parts on the path to knocking the goal out of the park.

          The Bottom Line

          These are my recommendations for setting stretch goals, and there are a ton of other resources to support you in the workplace and in your community.

          For instance, LinkedIn’s Lynda.com platform has a wonderful suite of leadership development videos, including ones on establishing stretch goals. This is a paid resource but may be worth the investment if you lead a team or want to invest in tools for your own growth and development.

          Featured photo credit: Avatar of user Isaac Smith Isaac Smith @isaacmsmith Isaac Smith via unsplash.com

          Reference

          [1] Harvard Business Review: The Stretch Goal Paradox

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