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20 Online and App Resources to Help You Boost and Improve Productivity

20 Online and App Resources to Help You Boost and Improve Productivity

You probably have a smartphone in your hand, or really close by, and somewhere near, your email client is open. You are constantly on the lookout for the newest email, tweet, like, invite or any other kind of notification that can give you the latest info on your current project. Being this busy comes with its own drawbacks, as it can be pretty tiresome which all can lead to a big decrease in productivity.

Because of this, true professionals are constantly trying to find the newest, most effective shortcut that will make their day a bit easier. There are so many different productivity apps that are already available on the market, both for Android, iOS and the still developing Windows Phone. It is important to know how to choose the app that is perfect for you and your needs, and that will suit your style the most. We’ve come up with 20 of the best apps that will definitely help you increase your workplace productivity and facilitate faster workflow.

1. 1Password (Android, iOS, Windows PC, Chrome Extension, Website)

1password

    First and foremost, it is your duty to protect your accounts with a strong password, and use different ones for each account. But this quickly becomes difficult, especially if you are using the internet on a daily basis, simply because there are so many websites, so many account names, and you can easily be fooled into using a single password, and once it is discovered, all your accounts are in danger. 1password is developed with this in mind, and it puts all your passwords into a single place and keeps them secure, furthermore, it offers the possibility of generating extremely difficult random passwords that you will not have to remember. It is available on every platform, making sure that you do not have to think about your passwords ever again. It will automatically sync with your smartphone, and your PC or Mac, so that you have access to your accounts everywhere you go.

    2. Pocket (Android, iOS)

    Pocket

      If you work with social networks, you are constantly intrigued with interesting headlines and funny videos, but it is simply impossible to dedicate your time to reading everything you come in contact with and get your work done at the same time. Because of this, it is best to simply bookmark everything you want to read to watch for later, and this is where Pocket comes into play. It is actually Read It Later which went under a complete service overhaul, which enables you even to save all the interesting stuff for a later viewing, even in offline mode.

      3. Buffer (Android, iOS, Website)

      Buffer

        If your job involves dealing with social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or LinkedIn, then you should really try taking advantage of apps like Buffer which will give you total control over when and what you post. You can schedule your future tweets, posts and any other content at a predetermined time, and this app will do the rest. Furthermore, this application will also provide you with detailed metrics on how a particular post is performing, how many clicks, likes, retweets or shares it is getting.  This app is quite simple to use, and you only need to setup your account by connecting it with your other social network profiles. If you want the Business plan, it will cost you $50 and up.

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        4. Google Keep (Android, Chrome Extension, Website)

        Google keep

          With so many note applications it is hard to choose the right one, but when in doubt – trust Google. While this app appeared without any hype, it is characterized by a simple user interface that, like every other Google app, has a deep integration with other services. You can easily create a whole note board and stick anything and everything you want, however you want it, from snippets, checklists but also photos and reminders. It will back everything up on Google Drive, so you don’t ever have to worry about using it.

          5. Mailbox (Android, iOS)

          mailbox

            Mailbox is a simple and minimalistic email client that will help you organize your overcrowded inbox with simple gestures. It currently supports Gmail and iCloud accounts and you can easily swipe messages to archive them or send them to trash, or simply snooze them until later when they will reappear at the top of the list – enabling you to focus on what is important right now. This application also learns about your frequent actions, learning to snooze unimportant conversations, or even automatically muting others.

            6. Quip (Android, iOS)

            Quip

              If you work in a big team that relies a lot on collaborative tools, then you must have heard about Quip. This app creates an interesting mix of integrated messaging and instant group editing of files. With this app you will be able to create, import and share different document types, notes, to-do lists and quickly edit them with everyone on your time. It works well with Dropbox, Google Drive and Evernote, and when you are done you can save your files as universal PDF and other Office formats.

              7. Basecamp (Android, iOS, Website)

              Basecamp

                While a basecamp could be used as a good solution for a whole company, it also offers a possibility for individual use where you can keep track of your current projects or to-do lists, with the possibility of adding documents directly from Google Drive. If you do not want to use Google Drive, it offers its own storage space where you can upload your own files, but for additional space you will need to buy a storage plan. Basecamp is free for individuals and small businesses, but it has a limit on how many active projects you can have at one time, but it offers many different plans that will suit everyone’s pocket.

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                8. Microsoft Office 365 (Android, iOS, Website)

                MS office 365

                  There are those among us that rely on the Microsoft ecosystem, especially you use Windows’ cloud capabilities. With these apps you will be able to access all your Office files on Android and iOS operating systems. While the baseline options are free, if you would like to use cloud capabilities you will need to pay a subscription fee, and even though it might not be the best file editing tool, it is good for heavy Microsoft users.

                  9. Asana (Android, iOS, Website)

                  Asana

                    If you need something to keep you organize, but you find Basecamp lacking, then Asana might just be the thing for you. Not only does it offer a better overview of all your current projects, but it also allow you much greater freedom when creating, editing and assigning tasks, diving them into projects and granulating to-do lists as much as you need. It can totally replace using emails inside your office, and because it is available on your smartphone you will stay in touch with everything you need to know, without missing out on a single update.

                    10. Expensify (Android, iOS, Website)

                    Expensify

                      Working in an environment where you constantly need to track expenses can sometimes be quite tiresome, and there is almost no room for errors. Apps like Expensify can track everything you need, and the best thing – it is completely free. It offers different features, so you can save receipts simply by taking picture of them and the software will automatically analyze them. It can even track mileage with your phone’s GPS so that you can later claim refunds at your office if it was a business trip. All of these things will also be accessible across all platforms and on their website, for your convenience.

                      11. Refresh (iOS, Website)

                      Refresh

                        This app currently available only for iOS, can help you remember who you are meeting, and give you a few insightful facts about them. It has the option of syncing with your Gmail, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and it even promises to incorporate new social networks in near future, so that whenever you have an upcoming meeting, it automatically searches for the people you are about to see, and prepares a detailed report about them. You will be able to see when their birthday is, when you first met, but it can also Google them, and display any latest news articles that they either published or were mentioned in.

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                        12. Google Hangouts (Android, iOS, Website)

                        Google Hangouts

                          With a plethora of different instant messaging services, it is hard to select a single one. You have WhatsApp, Viber and even Facebook’s Messenger app, but Google Hangouts combines all of this, with Google’s other services, video conference calls and other Skype-like capabilities. You are free to use the app free if you need it for simple messaging, and simple video calls but for other voice services you will need to pay per minute, which but at least you will not have to worry about different carriers and you will only need to have a decent internet access.

                          13. Sunrise (Android, iOS)

                          Sunrise

                            It is sometimes easy to forget how important calendar apps really are. Sunrise is one of those simple, yet elegant solutions to an everyday problem, and it was doing its job so efficiently that it was acquired by Microsoft for just $100 million. This app can seamlessly connect to all other major calendar services, making sure to combine all sources adequately so that you do not miss a meeting ever again. It also has social networks integration, meaning that it can look up a person on LinkedIn so that you see the picture and profile page of the people you are having a meeting with. It is simple, beautiful, and it does exactly what it says – and not to mention, it is totally free.

                            14. IFTTT (Android, iOS)

                            IFTTT

                              Repetitive tasks can be easily automatized by this app, which offers almost an endless amount of possibilities that can be done for you. You can create your own custom order, so that every time you open an email app, your Wi-Fi and data packets are turned on. The name might sound strange but it is actually a short for IF This Then That, so the next time you take a picture, it can automatically be uploaded to any cloud service you want, or to your Instagram account, and the amount of triggers and possible options grows every second, ranging from different devices, applications, and services.

                              15. Timeful (iOS, Website)

                              Timeful

                                If you ever wondered what you must do in order to make your schedule more efficient – look no further. Like most apps nowadays, Timeful is designed in such a way as to learn your behavior and offer better solutions that will not only improve your efficiency, but give you more room to relax. It is actually a mix of a calendar app and a to-do list, and based on your habits it suggest new routines that can help you do things faster.

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                                16. Any.DO (Android, iOS)

                                any.do

                                  Lists are all around us and it is only a matter of finding the right one. Any.DO is a solid, minimalistic solutions that is ready for all Android and iOS users to experience, offering everything from the simplest to-dos to lists that you can share with your co-workers and calendar alerts that can be synced with your Google services. It can even automatically turn all your missed calls into a to-do item that you will never forget about.

                                  17. Evernote (Android, iOS, Windows Phone, Website)

                                  Evernote

                                    This app is your next best friend, and your online notepad. It is used to collect everything you visit online, from photos, web pages, different files including PDF and audio clips. It offers quick indexing service, meaning that no matter how much stuff you keep adding to it, you can easily find on every device. With Evernote, you will never again have to make endless list of bookmarks in your browser and you will be able to quickly revisit all the important information. Use a Chrome extension in order to quickly save everything you need, and revisit it later on your smartphone.

                                    18. TripIt (Android, iOS, Website)

                                    Tripit

                                      This app is a must have for anyone who travels a lot. While the initial service is completely free, it also comes with a pro-version that costs $49 a year. You only need to send all travel related emails, such as your confirmations, reservations, and receipts to a special email address where all of this is automatically organized for you into a calendar-like schedule. With a pro version, you can track your plane to see whether it is late, what the weather is like, and it even offers a possibility of finding alternative routes if your primary one becomes cancelled.

                                      19. NotesPlus (iOS, Website)

                                      Notes Plus

                                        For those artistically inclined, having to write down memos on virtual keyboard must be quite a bore. If you prefer an old-fashioned pen and paper approach, this app is as close as it gets to having a real notebook in your hands. It comes with different functionality to automatically turn your writing into text. All actions can be done with a stylus, circling around notes, drawings and text can select it, the only downfall being that there is no free version, and it is currently not available on Android.

                                        20. Google Docs (Android, iOS, Website)

                                        Google Docs

                                          While it is usually not necessary to mention anything made by Google, such as its next-to-perfect email client, or its file-storage service, Google Docs are a whole other story. While Google Docs app was mostly developed as an extension for Google Drive, it is actually a robust platform that not only allows you to seamlessly share files, edit them on different platforms and computers, it is also an excellent collaboration tool. If you find yourself frequently using Microsoft Office, you might want to try and switch to Google’s solution. Not only that it is completely free, but it offers standard integration with all other Google services, such as Google+ and Gmail. Furthermore, it offers the possibility of multiple users editing a single document at the same time, which can be an extremely efficient way of either brainstorming, or finishing up a project at the last minute.

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                                          Ivan Dimitrijevic

                                          Ivan is the CEO and founder of a digital marketing company. He has years of experiences in team management, entrepreneurship and productivity.

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                                          1 The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain) 2 What to Do When Bored at Work (And Why You Feel Bored Actually) 3 6 Effective Ways to Enhance Your Problem Solving Skills 4 How to Concentrate and Focus Better to Boost Productivity 5 15 Productive Things to Do When Bored (So Time Is Not Wasted)

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                                          Last Updated on July 17, 2019

                                          The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

                                          The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

                                          What happens in our heads when we set goals?

                                          Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

                                          Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

                                          According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

                                          Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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                                          Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

                                          Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

                                          The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

                                          Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

                                          So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

                                          Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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                                          One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

                                          Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

                                          Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

                                          The Neurology of Ownership

                                          Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

                                          In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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                                          But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

                                          This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

                                          Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

                                          The Upshot for Goal-Setters

                                          So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

                                          On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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                                          It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

                                          On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

                                          But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

                                          More About Goals Setting

                                          Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

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