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19 Best Web Resources To Enhance Productivity

19 Best Web Resources To Enhance Productivity

These days, there’s no shortage of web resources to choose from. And although options are wonderful, they can also be the bane of our existence. Too many options have often been the primary cause for a total lack of productivity.

For example: let’s say you want to learn how to make a good martini. You google search: “how to make the perfect martini”. Boom. You get back enough how-to articles on martini-making to make your head spin. You click one of the results…. It’s not bad. But maybe there’s something better. You go back to your Google search results and click another one, opening another tab in your browser. This one’s okay. But not as good as the last. Then you go back and look for another article.

You repeat the same cycle again. And again.. and again. Until next thing you know — you’ve got so many open tabs on your browser window that you’ve forgotten what you were trying to do in the first place!

How’d you go from searching for the perfect martini recipe, to watching a Justin Bieber video on YouTube?

This, my friend, is the double-edge sword of the world wide web and the many resources that it offers us to make use of… and if we waste too much time using the wrong ones (i.e. Justin Bieber videos on YouTube), then we end up sabotaging our own productivity as a result.

So without further ado, I present to you the 19 best web resources to enhance productivity. Save the martinis for after you’re done reading this article.

1. Evernote

This is the juggernaut of web resources to help with productivity. Personally, it’s my primary way of staying on track with my daily projects and tasks. Super charge this resource by integrating it with the Getting Things Done productivity methodology and you’ll be setting yourself up for success for a very long time.

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2. Spreeder

Learning to speed read can be massively helpful when you’re trying to plow through piles of documents and books in search of a vital piece of information. Luckily, there’s an app for that, and it’s called Spreeder.

3. Wunderlist

Wunderlist is the bucket-list-building app you’ve always wished for. Fast. Intuitive. Shareable. Whether you’re creating a “someday/maybe” list or pounding away at a project filled with tasks you need to accomplish, you just can’t go wrong with Wunderlist.

4. Coffitivity

Researchers tell us that people work better when there’s white noise in the background. That’s where an app like Coffitivity comes in handy by generating the buzziness of a cafe’ in the background while you’re working.

5. Tomato Timer

Tomato Timer is based on the Pomodoro technique, which is an incredibly popular productivity method that requires you to incorporate specific periods of rest and renewal into your workday by breaking it up into 25-minute chunks of productive time. After the 25-minute chunk of time is up, you get a short break before repeating the same cycle over again.

The Tomato Timer will alert you when the 25 minutes is up so you can get up and take a quick moment to recharge your batteries before getting back to work again. The fact that you know you’ll be able to take a break when the timer goes off will help you beat procrastination once and for all.

6. GetFlashNotes

Too busy to read that pile of books on the bedside table? Start using GetFlashNotes book summaries and you’ll be done reading them, all in under 20 minutes flat. The fact that you can read the best self-help and business books in mere minutes makes this a productivity resource that you should never leave home without.

And since their summaries come formatted for every device, you’ll never have to.

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7. Do Nothing For 2 Minutes

If there’s one thing modern professionals don’t get enough of, it’s short periods of rest. You work hard. Bless yourself with 120 seconds of peace via this simple but powerful productivity resource. You’ll feel better for having done it.

8. Doodle

Never go back and forth about when to schedule a meeting, and forget about wasting time email-polling your friends about whether they can make it to your birthday party on this or that date.

Instead, use Doodle to identify a few potential windows of time that work best for you, and ask everyone else to fill in what works for them within those windows. Doodle makes scheduling things easy.

9. Feedly

Organize everything you love — from blogs, to news, to websites and more — all in one place that you can go back to whenever you want, via Feedly.

10. Podcasts

Listening to a podcast can be a vital productivity resource if you’re doing it with a purpose. Want to learn how to quit smoking or how to be more confident? Listen to a self-improvement podcast on iTunes.

Want the big ideas from that business book your co-worker told you about? Listen to a non-fiction literature podcast. Take advantage of podcasts. They’re free, fun, and can teach you tons of productivity hacks within a very short period of time.

11. FocusWriter

A simple tool that provides a clean on-screen writing environment for the essentialist. FocusWriter comes complete with other small but useful resources to enhance productivity, like timers, alarms, spell checking and goal-setting functionality.

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12. Hootsuite

Automate all of your social media, rather than dividing your attention, when you could be productively getting things done instead. Let’s say you’ve just written a great blog post and you really want to capitalize on the power of social media to spread that blog post as far as possible. Rather than sharing and tweeting about it on all of your social media platforms all at once, you can use Hootsuite to pre-populate exactly when – and how often – you want your blog post to be spread around on each of your individual social media accounts.

If the best time to self-promote on Facebook is on Tuesday mornings between 8 and 9 am, then set up your messaging with Hootsuite to ensure it goes out on that specific day. Rinse and repeat for your other platforms.

13. IFTTT

The acronym stands for “If this, then that”, and it’s an app that allows you to create little chains of productivity using simple “recipes”. The “recipes” act as Triggers and Actions to prompt you to stay productive.

For example, you can make a recipe that automatically turns every email you start in your Gmail into a reminder in your iOS Reminders app. Pretty cool, eh?

14. Lift

Get push notifications to remind you to stay on track with your health and fitness goals. Prompt yourself to “drink more water” at various times throughout the day. Remind yourself to stick with your gym habit every morning.

Use Lift as you constant companion to help you harness the power of habit when you need it most.

15. Productivity Owl

Productivity Owl is a Google Chrome extension that keeps you on track by letting you know when you’re not being as productive as you should be. The productivity owl literally gets in your face, too. Every time you’re browsing pages that you know you shouldn’t be, the little Productivity Owl swoops down from the corner of your screen to let you know that it’s time to stop checking Facebook so you can finish up that presentation that’s due tomorrow.

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16. SelfControl

What if you could block yourself from succumbing to the luring urge’s to constantly check your social media apps like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube? Well, now you can. SelfControl’s application lets you block your own access to distracting websites, your mail servers and pretty much anything else on the web.

Just preset a period of time to block for, add sites to your blacklist and click “Start.” Until that timer expires, you won’t be able to access those sites – even if you restart your computer or delete the application.

17. Audible

Every book you read is a deliberate investment in your personal development. But what if you’re not a big fan of reading or don’t have the time to? Don’t fret. You can listen to audiobooks instead.

With Audible, you can listen to books while you run, walk, or drive to work in the morning. Easy peasy.

18. Unroll.Me

See your favorite newsletter subscriptions “at-a-glance”, rather than in an endless stream of spam-like emails that never seem to end.

19. Sleepy Ti.me

Last but not least, we have the Sleepy Time app. Because there’s absolutely no productivity hack, trick, or tool that’ll ever replace your body’s need for sleep. Sleepy Time is a bedtime calculator that’s meant to help you maintain a steady snoozing schedule.

Clock in when you want to sleep, and let it calculate how many Z’s you need to catch for your body to perform at peak levels of productivity throughout the day.

Time to get productive

So there you have it – 19 of the best productivity web resources available today. But beware of awesome-app overload. These resources are only as powerful as you allow them to be.

So print this list out or save it somewhere you know you’ll come back to, so that you can try a couple at a time until you figure out your favorite from the bunch. Stay productive.

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Dean Bokhari

Author, Entrepreneur, Podcast & TV Host

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Last Updated on January 6, 2021

14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

Everyone has heard the term productivity, and people talk about it in terms of how high it is and how to improve it. But fewer know how to measure productivity, or even what exactly we are talking about when using the term “productivity.”

In its simplest form, the productivity formula looks like this: Output ÷ Input = Productivity.

For example, you have two salespeople each making 10 calls to customers per week. The first one averages 2 sales per week and the second one averages 3 sales per week. By plugging in the numbers we get the following productivity levels for each sales person.

For salesperson one, the output is 2 sales and the input is 10 sales: 2 ÷ 10 = .2 or 20% productivity. For salesperson two, the output is 3 sales and the input is 10 sales: 3 ÷ 10 = .3 or 30% productivity.

Knowing how to measure and interpret productivity is an invaluable asset for any manager or business owner in today’s world. As an example, in the above scenario, salesperson #1 is clearly not doing as well as salesperson #2.

Knowing this information we can now better determine what course of action to take with salesperson #1.

Some possible outcomes might be to require more in-house training for that salesperson, or to have them accompany the more productive salesperson to learn a better technique. It might be that salesperson #1 just isn’t suited for sales and would do a better job in a different position.

How to Measure Productivity With Management Techniques

Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to fine tune your business by minimizing costs and maximizing profits:

1. Identify Long and Short-Term Goals

Having a good understanding of what you (or your company’s) goals are is key to measuring productivity.

For example, if your company’s goal is to maximize market share, you’ll want to measure your team’s productivity by their ability to acquire new customers, not necessarily on actual sales made.

2. Break Down Goals Into Smaller Weekly Objectives

Your long-term goal might be to get 1,000 new customers in a year. That’s going to be 20 new customers per week. If you have 5 people on your team, then each one needs to bring in 4 new customers per week.

Now that you’ve broken it down, you can track each person’s productivity week-by-week just by plugging in the numbers:

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Productivity = number of new customers ÷ number of sales calls made

3. Create a System

Have you ever noticed that whenever you walk into a McDonald’s, the French fry machine is always to your left? 

This is because McDonald’s created a system. They have determined that the most efficient way to set up a kitchen is to always have the French fry machine on the left when you walk in.

You can do the same thing and just adapt it to your business.

Let’s say that you know that your most productive salespeople are making the most sales between the hours of 3 and 7 pm. If the other salespeople are working from 9 am to 4 pm, you can potentially increase productivity through something as simple as adjusting the workday.

Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to set up, monitor, and fine tune systems to maximize output.

4. Evaluate, Evaluate, Evaluate!

We’ve already touched on using these productivity numbers to evaluate and monitor your employees, but don’t forget to evaluate yourself using these same measurements.

If you have set up a system to track and measure employees’ performance, but you’re still not meeting goals, it may be time to look at your management style. After all, your management is a big part of the input side of our equation.

Are you more of a carrot or a stick type of manager? Maybe you can try being more of the opposite type to see if that changes productivity. Are you managing your employees as a group? Perhaps taking a more one-on-one approach would be a better way to utilize each individual’s strengths and weaknesses.

Just remember that you and your management style contribute directly to your employees’ productivity.

5. Use a Ratings Scale

Having clear and concise objectives for individual employees is a crucial part of any attempt to increase workplace productivity. Once you have set the goals or objectives, it’s important that your employees are given regular feedback regarding their progress.

Using a ratings scale is a good way to provide a standardized visual representation of progress. Using a scale of 1-5 or 1-10 is a good way to give clear and concise feedback on an individual basis.

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It’s also a good way to track long-term progress and growth in areas that need improvement.

6. Hire “Mystery Shoppers”

This is especially helpful in retail operations where customer service is critical. A mystery shopper can give feedback based on what a typical customer is likely to experience.

You can hire your own shopper, or there are firms that will provide them for you. No matter which route you choose, it’s important that the mystery shoppers have a standardized checklist for their evaluation.

You can request evaluations for your employees friendliness, how long it took to greet the shopper, employees’ knowledge of the products or services, and just about anything else that’s important to a retail operation.

7. Offer Feedback Forms

Using a feedback form is a great way to get direct input from existing customers. There are just a couple of things to keep in mind when using feedback forms.

First, keep the form short, 2-3 questions max with a space for any additional comments. Asking people to fill out a long form with lots of questions will significantly reduce the amount of information you receive.

Secondly, be aware that customers are much more likely to submit feedback forms when they are unhappy or have a complaint than when they are satisfied.

You can offset this tendency by asking everyone to take the survey at the end of their interaction. This will increase compliance and give you a broader range of customer experiences, which will help as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

8. Track Cost Effectiveness

This is a great metric to have, especially if your employees have some discretion over their budgets. You can track how much each person spends and how they spend it against their productivity.

Again, this one is easy to plug into the equation: Productivity = amount of money brought in ÷ amount of money spent.

Having this information is very useful in forecasting expenses and estimating budgets.

9. Use Self-Evaluations

Asking your staff to do self evaluations can be a win-win for everyone. Studies have shown that when employees feel that they are involved and their input is taken seriously, morale improves. And as we all know, high employee morale translates into higher productivity.

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Using self-evaluations is also a good way to make sure that the employees and employers goals are in alignment.

10. Monitor Time Management

This is the number one killer of productivity in the workplace. Time spent browsing the internet, playing games, checking email, and making personal calls all contribute to lower productivity[1].

Time Management Tips to Improve Productivity

    The trick is to limit these activities without becoming overbearing and affecting morale. Studies have shown that most people will adhere to rules that they feel are fair and applied to everyone equally.

    While ideally, we may think that none of these activities should be done on company time, employees will almost certainly have a different opinion. From a productivity standpoint, it is best to have policies and rules that are seen as fair to both sides as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

    11. Analyze New Customer Acquisition

    We’ve all heard the phrase that “It’s more expensive to get a new customer than it is to keep an existing one.” And while that is very true, in order for your business to keep growing, you will need to continually add new customers.

    Knowing how to measure productivity via new customer acquisition will make sure that your marketing dollars are being spent in the most efficient way possible. This is another metric that’s easy to plug into the formula: Productivity = number of new customers ÷ amount of money spent to acquire those customers.

    For example, if you run any kind of advertising campaign, you can compare results and base your future spending accordingly.

    Let’s say that your total advertising budget is $3,000. You put $2,000 into television ads, $700 into radio ads, and $300 into print ads. When you track the results, you find that your television ad produced 50 new customers, your radio ad produced 15 new customers, and your print ad produced 9 new customers.

    Let’s plug those numbers into our equation. Television produced 50 new customers at a cost of $2,000 (50 ÷ 2000 = .025, or a productivity rate of 2.5%). The radio ads produced 15 new customers and cost $700 (15 ÷ 700 = .022, or a 2.2% productivity rate). Print ads brought in 9 new customers and cost $300 (9 ÷ 300 = .03, or a 3% return on productivity).

    From this analysis, it is clear that you would be getting the biggest bang for your advertising dollar using print ads.

    12. Utilize Peer Feedback

    This is especially useful when people who work in teams or groups. While self-assessments can be very useful, the average person is notoriously bad at assessing their own abilities.

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    Just ask a room full of people how many consider themselves to be an above average driver and you’ll see 70% of the hands go up[2]! Now we clearly know that in reality about 25% of drivers are below average, 25% are above average, and 50% are average.

    Are all these people lying? No, they just don’t have an accurate assessment of their own abilities.

    It’s the same in the workplace. Using peer feedback will often provide a more accurate assessment of a person’s ability than a self-assessment would.

    13. Encourage Innovation and Don’t Penalize Failure

    When it comes to productivity, encouraging employee input and adopting their ideas can be a great way to boost productivity. Just make sure that any changes you adopt translate into higher productivity.

    Let’s say that someone comes to you requesting an entertainment budget so that they can take potential customers golfing or out to dinner. By utilizing simple productivity metrics, you can easily produce a cost benefit analysis and either expand the program to the rest of the sales team, or terminate it completely.

    Either way, you have gained valuable knowledge and boosted morale by including employees in the decision-making process.

    14. Use an External Evaluator

    Using an external evaluator is the pinnacle of objective evaluations. Firms that provide professional evaluations use highly trained personnel that even specialize in specific industries.

    They will design a complete analysis of your business’ productivity level. In their final report, they will offer suggestions and recommendations on how to improve productivity.

    While the benefits of a professional evaluation are many, their costs make them prohibitive for most businesses.

    Final Thoughts

    These are just a few of the things you can do when learning how to measure productivity. Some may work for your particular situation, and some may not.

    The most important thing to remember when deciding how to track productivity is to choose a method consistent with your goals. Once you’ve decided on that, it’s just a matter of continuously monitoring your progress, making minor adjustments, and analyzing the results of those adjustments.

    The business world is changing fast, and having the right tools to track and monitor your productivity can give you the edge over your competition.

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    Featured photo credit: William Iven via unsplash.com

    Reference

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