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10 Productive Tools I Wish I’d Known About Before

10 Productive Tools I Wish I’d Known About Before

It’s amazing what a huge effect a few apps can have on your productivity. Since I started testing out software like mad two years ago, I’ve discovered more and more ways to get things done more efficiently and more effectively. With the help of just these ten productive tools I have dramatically increased the quantity and quality of my output. Read about each of them below.

1. 2Do ($9.99)

There are a lot of free to-do list applications out there, and some of them are pretty great. Wunderlist is one that immediately springs to mind. Why, then, did I choose a $10 app? Because 2Do has every feature you could ever think of while still offering a very streamlined experience. For people with even the most hectic and complicated schedules, 2Do will fulfill all your needs. For those with less to organize, it’s an easy-to-use application that has everything you might ever want. It’s available for iOS and Android at the price listed above.

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2. Mint (Free)

Money plays a big role in all our lives, so it makes sense that you would have productive tools that help you manage it. Mint is among the best ways to manage your money from multiple sources, organizing your various accounts in one place. For everything from your bank accounts to your credit cards to loans to even your PayPal account, Mint has you covered.c

3. Scrivener ($45)

I’ll come out and say it: Microsoft Word sucks. It’s cluttered, it’s clunky and it’s nowhere near intuitive. Word is one of those productive tools that we’ve been forced to use for years due to its dominance in the marketplace, but Scrivener is becoming a more and more viable contender for your word processor. Scrivener treats every page of your document as a separate file, which sounds like a small feature but will revolutionize how you work on long projects. Between that and its intuitive design, Scrivener (available for Windows and Mac) is highly recommended.

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4. Google Drive (Free)

A cloud storage service is an absolute must on a list of productive tools. There are a number to choose from. While Dropbox was a major contender for this spot, Google Drive wins out for more people’s needs. Whereas you have to go through extra steps to add storage to your Dropbox account, Google Drive automatically comes with a respectable 15 GB to store emails, photos and other data. If you want more space, Google has it for the very affordable prices of just $2/month for 100 GB or $10/month for 1TB. This is in addition to Google’s brilliantly simple apps connected to Google Drive, productive tools that are great for collaboration and serve as great free alternatives for Microsoft Office software. Google Drive is available on any platform.

5. Mailbox (Free)

A lot of us use our email inboxes as de facto to-do lists, even if we already have an app like 2Do or Wunderlist for that purpose. That was a bad idea until productive tools like Mailbox arrived on the scene. Mailbox, available for iOS, Android and Mac, allows you to store emails for later viewing without having to archive them. It also has the innovative ability to “snooze” emails until the date and time of your choice, so that they’ll pop back up in your inbox right when you need them. This is especially great if you have to follow up with people who don’t always reply to the first email you send.

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6. GoodReader ($4.99)

iBooks and other default applications are completely satisfactory ways to read PDFs, but who wants to settle for satisfactory? Productive tools like GoodReader make reading on a tablet or a phone the best experience out there and also give you the power to edit documents. GoodReader itself is only available for iOS but you can find some alternatives for Android here.

7. Feedly (Free)

Even most internet users are getting their news in an antiquated way. Instead of browsing dozens of sites to get updates from all your favorite sources, you can use a service like Feedly to compile articles and blog posts in one place where you get to read them ad-free. The experience becomes even better when you get a third-party app like Reeder to read the content you’ve compiled on your computer, tablet, or phone.

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8. Pocket (Free)

An app that goes hand-in-hand with Feedly, Pocket lets you save things you find on the internet for later reading. For example, if you come across an awesome article that you don’t have time to read right away, save it to Pocket with either the browser extension on a PC or a share function on a mobile device so that you can enjoy it at a time of your convenience.

9. Skitch (Free)

There are some really fancy options for annotating images and documents, but those options are rarely necessary. Most of the time when you’re marking something you’re doing it in a hurry. Skitch is an expert at the rush job, making it painless to annotate and mark up images and documents sent to you to review.

10. Evernote (Free)

Evernote is one of the most beloved and powerful tools for productivity out there. The developers describe it as your external brain, and the description is accurate. Your account is made up of notes you write, notebooks to contain your notes, and stacks to organize your notebooks. Almost any kind of information, whether it be reminders, facts or ideas, can be stored in Evernote in the form of either text, pictures or audio. Its uses are almost infinite, and everyone can take advantage of it in a different way. For some, it’s a simple note-taking app in which they can jot down to-dos, musings and reminders. Others store pretty much their entire lives in their Evernote account. The magic of that is that the more you put into Evernote, the more you get out of it. The browser extension that allows you to “clip” articles from the web directly into your notebooks and Evernote’s wide-ranging syncing abilities with all kinds of digital services only make it stronger. Evernote has a $5/month premium service, but all its key features are absolutely free of price.

Featured photo credit: Evernote Trunk Conference Entrance/Brooks Duncan via flickr.com

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Matt OKeefe

Matt is a marketer and writer who shares about lifestyle and productivity tips on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on December 10, 2019

How to Stay Motivated and Reach Your Big Goals in Life

How to Stay Motivated and Reach Your Big Goals in Life

It is hardly a secret that the key to successfully accomplishing one goal after another is staying motivated. There are, of course, tasks which successful people may not like at all, yet they find motivation to complete them because they recognize how each particular task serves a greater goal.

So how to stay motivated most of the time? Here are 5 simple yet effective ways on how to stay motivated and get what you want:

1. Find Your Good Reasons

Anything you do, no matter how simple, has a number of good reasons behind it.

You may not be able to find good reasons to do some tasks at first but, if you take just a few moments to analyze them, you will easily spot something good. We also have many tasks which don’t need any reasoning at all – we’ve been doing them for so long that they feel natural.

If you’re ever stuck with some tasks you hate and there seems to be no motivation to complete it whatsoever, here’s what you need to do: find your good reasons.

Even when you set goals, there needs to be reasons behind these goals. They may not be obvious, but stay at it until you see some, as this will bring your motivation back and will help you finish the task.

Some ideas for what a good reason can be:

  • A material reward – quite often, you will get paid for doing something you normally don’t like doing at all.
  • Personal gain – you will learn something new or will perhaps improve yourself in a certain way.
  • A feeling of accomplishment – at least you’ll be able to walk away feeling great about finding the motivation and courage to complete such a tedious task.
  • A step closer to your bigger goal – even the biggest accomplishments in history have started small and relied on simple and far less pleasant tasks than you might be working on. Every task you complete brings you closer to the ultimate goal, and acknowledging this always feels good.

2. Make It Fun

When it comes to motivation, attitude is everything. Different people may have completely opposite feelings towards the same task: some will hate it, others will love it.

Why do you think this happens? It’s simple: some of us find ways to make any task interesting and fun to do!

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Take sports for example. Visiting your local gym daily for a half-an-hour workout session sounds rather boring to some. Yet many others love the idea!

They like exercising not only because they recognize the good reasons behind it, but simply because it’s fun! At certain time of their daily schedule, they find going to gym to be the best thing to do, simply because nothing else will fit their time and lifestyle so perfectly.

Depending on how you look at it, you can have fun doing just about anything! Just look for ways of having fun, and you’ll find them!

A simple approach is to start working on any task by asking yourself a few questions:

  • How can I enjoy this task?
  • What can I do to make this task fun for myself and possibly for others?
  • How can I make this work the best part of my day?

As long as you learn to have the definite expectation of any task being potentially enjoyable, you will start to feel motivated.

Some of you will probably think of a thing or two which are valid exceptions from this statement, like something you always hate doing no matter how hard you try making it fun. You’re probably right, and that’s why I don’t claim everything to be fun.

However, most tasks have a great potential of being enjoyable, and so looking for ways to have fun while working is definitely a good habit to acquire.

3. Change Your Approach And Don’t Give Up

When something doesn’t feel right, it’s always a good time to take a moment and look for a different approach for the task.

You may be doing everything correctly and most efficiently, but such approach isn’t necessarily the most motivating one. Quite often, you can find a number of obvious tweaks to your current approach which will both change your experience and open up new possibilities.

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That’s why saying “one way or another” is so common — if you really want to accomplish your goal, there is always a way; and most likely, there’s more than one way.

If a certain approach doesn’t work for you, find another one, and keep trying until you find the one which will both keep you motivated and get you the desired results.

Some people think that trying a different approach means giving up. They take pride in being really stubborn and refusing to try any other options on their way towards the goal.

My opinion on this is that the power of focus is great, but you should be focusing on your goal, and not limiting your options by focusing on just one way to accomplish it it.

4. Recognize Your Progress

Everything you may be working on can be easily split into smaller parts and stages. For most goals, it is quite natural to split the process of accomplishing them into smaller tasks and milestones. There are a few reasons behind doing this, and one of them is tracking your progress.

We track our progress automatically with most activities. But to stay motivated, you need to recognize your progress, not merely track it.

Here’s how tracking and recognizing your progress is different:

Tracking is merely taking a note of having reached a certain stage in your process. Recognizing is taking time to look at a bigger picture and realize where exactly you are, and how much more you have left to do.

For example, if you’re going to read a book, always start by going through the contents table. Getting familiar with chapter titles and memorizing their total number will make it easier for you to recognize your progress as you read. Confirming how many pages your book has before starting it is also a good idea.

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You see, reading any book you will be automatically looking at page numbers and chapter titles, but without knowing the total number of pages, this information will have little meaning.

Somehow, it is human nature to always want things to happen in short term or even at once. Even though we split complex tasks into simpler actions, we don’t quite feel the satisfaction until all is done and the task is fully complete.

For many scenarios though, the task is so vast that such approach will drain all the motivation out of you long before you have a chance to reach your goal. That’s why it is important to always take small steps and recognize the positive different and progress made. This is how your motivation can sustain in long term.

5. Reward Yourself

This is a trick everyone likes: rewarding yourself is always pleasant. This is also one of the easiest and at the same time most powerful ways to stay motivated!

Feeling down about doing something? Dread the idea of working on some task? Hate the whole idea of working? You’re not alone.

Right from the beginning, agree on some deliverables which will justify yourself getting rewarded. As soon as you get one of the agreed results, take time to reward yourself in some way.

For some tasks, just taking a break and relaxing for a few minutes will do.

For others, you may want to get a fresh cup of coffee and even treat yourself a dessert.

For even bigger and more demanding tasks, reward yourself by doing something even more enjoyable, like going to a cinema or taking a trip to some place nice, or even buying yourself something.

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Your progress may not seem to others like anything worth celebrating but, take time and do it anyway! It is your task and your reward, so any ways to stay motivated are good.

The more you reward yourself for the honestly made progress, the more motivated you will feel about reaching new milestones, thus finally accomplishing your goal.

Mix and Match

Now that you have these five ways of staying motivated, it is a good moment to give you the key to them all: mix and match!

Pick one of the techniques and apply it to your situation. If it doesn’t work, or if you simply want to get more motivated, try another technique right way. Mix different approaches and match them to your task for the best results.

Just think about it: Finding good reasons to work on your task is bound to helping you feel better; and identifying ways to make it fun will help you enjoy the task even more.

Or, if you plan a few points for easier tracking of your progress and on top of that, agree on rewarding yourself as you go; this will make you feel most motivated about anything you have to work through.

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Featured photo credit: Lucas Lenzi via unsplash.com

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