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

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

Keeping your life on track to meet certain goals can be hard. If you have kids, are in a relationship, have a demanding work schedule, elderly family member whom you have to take care of, or just about anything else, it can be hard and give you the excuse not to pursue your goals and be productive. As a writer, I know that I sometimes need help with things like attempting to be creative (I get writers block), sticking to a writing schedule, finding articles of interest for myself and being self disciplined. Here are some web and app resources that I use to help me daily to improve productivity.

1. Wunderlist: Web & App (Free)

Wunderlist-Screenshot1

    Wunderlist

    is the best list app and web resource that I know and use. I can share certain lists with group of people like my family and another list with, let’s say, my boss. The best part is neither of them see any other list I am sharing.

    A great feature of Wunderlist is the reminder and due date. If it is on your phone or tablet, it will send you reminders (push notifications or emails) as well as have the due date next to the item. It frees up your mind so you are not worrying about what has been completed or not and lets you move on to more important things you want to do.

    Wunderlist is cross platform and synced not only for your devices, but also the others you share lists with. I seriously suggest and highly recommend using this tool.

    There are some pay features – including adding a background, unlimited assigning, unlimited files and unlimited sub-tasks. But I have not had any issues with the free version for the amount that I use it on a personal level.

    2. Trello: Web and App (Free)

    Screen Shot 2015-01-15 at 10.48.10 AM

      My second favorite all time web resource and app is Trello. A simple to use layout helps set clear goals and you can create lists to achieve these goals. Trello is like Evernote and Google Keep (mentioned below) but something about this one just really makes me feel organized and lets me do things in a way I understand for myself.

      So basically you create a “board” and then add a list. Inside this list are “cards.” Each card can be very different from the one before, but is still essential to completing the list. You write the description of the list on top. One list I have is “Work on Financial Goals.” Inside that I create a card “Payoff things” then inside that card I have 3 items to check off. 1. Payoff Amex, 2. Payoff Car 3. Cut Student Loan in half to $XXXX. As I complete a list item, Trello tells me what percentage I am to completing this particular goal. My next list is “Things to Try.” Inside that card I have “Join a Dodgeball Team” – I listed some links to local places that are advertising a Dodgeball league.

      There are some pay features, but I do not need use them and you can try them out by recommending to a friend.

      3. Evernote: Web and App (Free)

      Screen Shot 2015-01-15 at 10.09.34 AM
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        Evernote is simple and easy to use, with a very user friendly interface. With Evernote, there is no excuse to forget anything important again. I notice with Evernote that the user has to be a little more self disciplined then most of the applications that I use. It takes some effort to organize your thoughts, but it is an okay mind mapping tool (Simple mind is a mind mapping app listed below.)

        As an example of how it works, I assist a guy who installs alarms and he’ll call me up and tell me that he just left ABC store in blank town. I then go in and start writing up the job ticket, estimate, and other documents that are going to be needed. I also place notes that he rambled off to me and share that Evernote note with him.

        4. Google Keep: Web and App (Free)

        GoogleKeep

          Google Keep is Google’s Answer to Evernote. I recently just started playing with this to see how I like it and as a Google Fan (Gmail, Calendar, Docs, Drive) I am liking it so far. The design is like a board with sticky notes. I think of this as my answer to not having to carry a pen and small pad on me anymore to jot down numbers, notes, or a take a quick pic of something that I want to think of later.

          I do not like that everything is where ever it lands and there is no real organization except to move the notes that I have found,  but when you are on the go just wanting to take the quick note, it does it’s job.

          5. Pinterest: Web & App (Free)

          blog-pinterest

            Everyone I know uses Pinterest in one way or another. However, most people I know don’t use it to boost their productivity or creativity. I even have boards that are just random ramblings like Puppy Love – it’s about puppies. I have boards that are secret. These boards are titled with project names I am working on and contain images and notes for how I want to use them for said project.

            Also, this year I started posting more meaningful items, creating a board called Making You a Better TomorrowI have many different items on this board, but they are all related to making me a better tomorrow; some are just random quotes, articles I find interesting and want to share with people who follow. Be it inspiration that I found for myself personally or for a project, Pinterest keeps everything pretty organized in one place.

            Make sure to have Pinterest on your phone, tablet, and the add on widgets for your computer and browser. It makes it a lot simpler to Pin.

            6. 1 Second Everyday: App Only (Free to try Pay afterwards)

            1 Second Everyday

              Stupid and crazy as it is, I love this app. For 1 second everyday I take a moment to shoot beautiful video – be it of my dog, a city street I am walking on, a dinner with friends, whatever the case may be. I learned that when you take in your surroundings, even if it is just for a second, you can clear your mind of the clutter and learn to prioritize things into 3 categories Must Do, Want to do and Don’t even worry about.

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              7. One Word: Web Only (Free)

              One Word

                One Word  is very simple, but gets my productive brain juices flowing. One of my first morning activities is to go on this site and write a blurb about the word they give me – you only have 60 seconds.

                8. Diaro: App and Web (Free to Use, $3.99 to Sync across platforms)

                My Diaro

                  There are many great reasons to love Diaro appYes, I use it as a Diary/Journal of sorts, but it is so much more. First off, it is private! Second, the app sends me a reminder everyday to write.

                  I write about many different things, but the categories feature I can use help me to go above and beyond and collectively organize my thoughts where they need to be about a particular topic.

                  Negatives: paying the $3.99 to Sync, but it is worth it if you are going to keep up with your journal and writings. You cannot customize the website version to look like the one on your phone or tablet. Support for Diaro says they are going to be adding this feature shortly.

                  9. Google Hangouts: Web and App (Free)

                  Google Hangouts

                    Google Hangouts is one of my favorite apps. This is a universal answer to Apples Facetime with added features. You have video chat, texting/chatting, sharing of docs and pictures. Most people I know have a Google account, so I am seeing more and more people using Google hangouts with me in one fashion or another.

                    10. SimpleMind: App (Free)
                    simplemind-droid

                      I like using the Simplemind app when I know I am going to have to give a presentation, start a big project, or start a story that I want to tell. Apps like these let you see everything – like a big brain storming session and then help to organize it from there.

                      11. Google Fit App (Free)

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                        Basically Google Fit is a glorified pedometer, and considering I always have my phone on me it is nice to know how much I walked even on the days I do not go to the gym. It helps me to prioritize and organize my exercise routine.

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                        12. Budget Simple Web App ($4.99 a month)

                        Budgetsimple

                          I like Budgetsimple but wish the app was free. It is simple and easy to use, but just a little time consuming if you are only using the web version like I am. If the app were free, then I could be sitting in my car while the guy is pumping my gas and enter everything right then and there. But I have yet to find a good app and website that is a cross platform finance app that I like. It is very helpful with creating details and showing you charts of how your life really is working out on a monthly basis.

                          If you know a good cross platform finance app that is user friendly and easy to use, please let me know so I can play with it.

                          13. Pocket (Free)

                          Crossplatform Pocket

                            Pocket is one of the apps that I like to use when I am traveling. But if I am not traveling for awhile, I sort of forget about this app. The best thing about this app is the ability to read certain articles offline. It is perfect when you are on an airplane or the subway system in New York. So if you do not have an offline article app, think about getting Pocket.

                            14. Google Maps (Free)

                            Google Maps App

                              Who wants to waste time trying to find a location? The Google Maps App is great because it not only gives driving directions, but other alternative ways to get somewhere like on your bike or by public transportation.

                              15. I Heart Radio (Free)

                              iheartradio

                                I Heart Radio is another one of these apps that you think might be a waste of time and has nothing to do with productivity. However, I find that listening to music helps me relax and get into my own personal projects. I like I Heart Radio because I can listen to people having “Hot topic” conversation and it gives me a snipet of what is going on in the world.

                                16. TED Ideas Worth Sharing Web and App (Free)

                                Ted Ideas worth Sharing

                                  I love the Ted app and website. I like going on either the app or website to become informed and taught to think outside the box or see something from a whole new perspective. That is what Ted does. I’ll watch a video during my lunch break if I am eating alone. Many of them I find so inspirational.

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                                  17. Soundhound (Free)

                                  soundhound

                                    Music helps get my creative juices flowing most of the time. If I need to be in a certain mood music can get me there. Soundhound makes life easier by easily telling me the name of a song that is playing on the radio. How does this app make one more productive? It eliminates the search for a song you heard in passing. I can be sitting in a doctors office and then on comes a song that I never heard before that I find inspiring and instead of me searching for it later and wasting time, I just tap the Soundhound app and learn the song. Later when I add that song to a playlist, I have wasted little time.

                                    18. Spotify App and Web (Free and Paid)
                                    Spotify

                                      So you know how to listen to actual radio stations, you know how to find songs when you are in an analog setting, but how about taking your playlists with you. SPOTIFY! I don’t know about you but I hate to carry the computer, the tablet, the smartphone and iPod (Mp3 player,) then making sure the songs I want to hear are on whatever device they need to be on.

                                      With Spotify you can take your playlists with you, but you will be online for the free version (meaning it will use your data plans if not connect to wifi). If you want to take them offline, Spotify has a paid version and will download the songs to your device, (most of them anyway). Again, music helps add to creativity, boost productivity and give you energy – think about going a spin class and listening to classical. Yes, I am a big believer in the idea that music can help you achieve your desired goals and objectives.

                                      19. Words With Friends App (Free)

                                      Words with Friends

                                        I believe you should have one game app that you indulge in and I choose Words with Friends. This app helps boost productivity too. If you are blocked on a project and cannot work through it this app can help. This app, as fun as it may be, helps unblock your brain. It makes you think and see things a different way by rearranging letters. Sometimes even the words that are created by you or the other person might give you a spark to solve the puzzle you are working on.

                                        20. Cable Provider Apps

                                        080911-Cablevision-App-iPhone

                                          You might on this one be telling me how does watching TV make you more productive. It is not the TV shows you are watching but the app that lets you program your DVR. Do you stop reading that article to watch your favorite TV show? Maybe you are doing something liking pinning to your Pinterest page then get caught up in show that was playing in the background. Maybe a bus you are on has an ad for an educational program you want to see that will inspire you.

                                          Whatever your reasoning is, get the app from your cable provider. Don’t stop living your life because you want to watch a show, and don’t go searching on your cable guide to find the show or rerun of your show. Cable provider apps make searching for a show easier, setting your DVR and then moving about your life.

                                          21. Inspirational Quotes (Free)

                                          For my last app and resource that I use is Inspirational Quotes. This kind of resource has to be one that fits your personality. Someone might want a bible quote, a joke of the day, funny quotes, do a picture of the day, painting of the day. This is another one of the moments in your day where you look for the beautiful in all this craziness you face and have to do.

                                          Happy hunting with your apps. Remember Apps can be time wasters (many social media ones and of course games), or apps can make and help you do things. How you choose to use those free in between minutes between life’s obligations is up to you. What are your top apps and resources for improving productivity?

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                                          1 How To Write Effective Meeting Minutes (with Examples) 2 How Are Daily Rituals Different from Daily Routines? 3 7 Essential Success Tips to Achieve What You Want in Life 4 Deep Work: 9 Grounding Rules to Stay Focused 5 7 Reminders When You’re Making Life Choices

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                                          Last Updated on September 30, 2019

                                          How To Write Effective Meeting Minutes (with Examples)

                                          How To Write Effective Meeting Minutes (with Examples)

                                          Minutes are a written record of a board, company, or organizational meeting. Meeting minutes are considered a legal document, so when writing them, strive for clarity and consistency of tone.

                                          Because minutes are a permanent record of the meeting, be sure to proofread them well before sending. It is a good idea to run them by a supervisor or seasoned attendee to make sure statements and information are accurately captured.

                                          The best meeting minutes takers are careful listeners, quick typists, and are adequately familiar with the meeting topics and attendees. The note taker must have a firm enough grasp of the subject matter to be able to separate the important points from the noise in what can be long, drawn-out discussions. And, importantly, the note taker should not simultaneously lead and take notes. (If you’re ever asked to do so, decline.)

                                          Following, are some step-by-step hints to effectively write meeting minutes:

                                          1. Develop an Agenda

                                          Work with the Chairperson or Board President to develop a detailed agenda.

                                          Meetings occur for a reason, and the issues to be addressed and decided upon need to be listed to alert attendees. Work with the convener to draft an agenda that assigns times to each topic to keep the meeting moving and to make sure the group has enough time to consider all items.

                                          The agenda will serve as your outline for the meeting minutes. Keep the minutes’ headings consistent with the agenda topics for continuity.

                                          2. Follow a Template from Former Minutes Taken

                                          If you are new to a Board or organization, and are writing minutes for the first time, ask to see the past meeting minutes so that you can maintain the same format.

                                          Generally, the organization name or the name of the group that is meeting goes at the top: “Meeting of the Board of Directors of XYZ,” with the date on the next line. After the date, include both the time the meeting came to order and the time the meeting ended.

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                                          Most groups who meet do so regularly, with set agenda items at each meeting. Some groups include a Next Steps heading at the end of the minutes that lists projects to follow up on and assigns responsibility.

                                          A template from a former meeting will also help determine whether or not the group records if a quorum was met, and other items specific to the organization’s meeting minutes.

                                          3. Record Attendance

                                          On most boards, the Board Secretary is the person responsible for taking the meeting minutes. In organizational meetings, the minutes taker may be a project coordinator or assistant to a manager or CEO. She or he should arrive a few minutes before the meeting begins and pass around an attendance sheet with all members’ names and contact information.

                                          Meeting attendees will need to check off their names and make edits to any changes in their information. This will help as both a back-up document of attendees and ensure that information goes out to the most up-to-date email addresses.

                                          All attendees’ names should be listed directly below the meeting name and date, under a subheading that says “Present.” List first and last names of all attendees, along with title or affiliation, separated by a comma or semi-colon.

                                          If a member of the Board could not attend the meeting, cite his or her name after the phrase: “Copied To:” There may be other designations in the participants’ list. For example, if several of the meeting attendees are members of the staff while everyone else is a volunteer, you may want to write (Staff) after each staff member.

                                          As a general rule, attendees are listed alphabetically by their last names. However, in some organizations, it’s a best practice to list the leadership of the Board first. In that case, the President or Co-Presidents would be listed first, followed by the Vice President, followed by the Secretary, and then by the Treasurer. Then all other names of attendees would be alphabetized by last name.

                                          It is also common practice to note if a participant joined the meeting via conference call. This can be indicated by writing: “By Phone” and listing the participants who called in.

                                          4. Naming Convention

                                          Generally, the first time someone speaks in the meeting will include his or her name and often the title.

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                                          For example, “President of the XYZ Board, Roger McGowan, called the meeting to order.” The next time Roger McGowan speaks, though, you can simply refer to him as “Roger.” If there are two Rogers in the meeting, use an initial for their last names to separate the two. “Roger M. called for a vote. Roger T. abstained.”

                                          5. What, and What Not, to Include

                                          Depending on the nature of the meeting, it could last from one to several hours. The attendees will be asked to review and then approve the meeting minutes. Therefore, you don’t want the minutes to extend into a lengthy document.

                                          Capturing everything that people say verbatim is not only unnecessary, but annoying to reviewers.

                                          For each agenda item, you ultimately want to summarize only the relevant points of the discussion along with any decisions made. After the meeting, cull through your notes, making sure to edit out any circular or repetitive arguments and only leave in the relevant points made.

                                          6. Maintain a Neutral Tone

                                          Minutes are a legal document. They are used to establish an organization’s historical record of activity. It is essential to maintain an even, professional tone. Never put inflammatory language in the minutes, even if the language of the meeting becomes heated.

                                          You want to record the gist of the discussion objectively, which means mentioning the key points covered without assigning blame. For example, “The staff addressed board members’ questions regarding the vendor’s professionalism.”

                                          Picture a lawyer ten years down the road reading the minutes to find evidence of potential wrongdoing. You wouldn’t want an embellishment in the form of a colorful adverb or a quip to cloud any account of what took place. Here’s a list of neutral sounding words to get started with.

                                          7. Record Votes

                                          The primary purpose of minutes is to record any votes a board or organization takes. Solid record-keeping requires mentioning which participant makes a motion — and what the motion states verbatim — and which participant seconds the motion.

                                          For example, “Vice President Cindy Jacobsen made a motion to dedicate 50 percent, or $50,000, of the proceeds from the ZZZ Foundation gift to the CCC scholarship fund. President Roger McGowan seconded the motion.”

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                                          This vote tabulation should be expressed in neutral language as well. “The Board voted unanimously to amend the charter in the following way,” or “The decision to provide $1,000 to the tree-planting effort passed 4 to 1, with Board President McGowan opposing.”

                                          Most Boards try to get a vote passed unanimously. Sometimes in order to help the Board attain a more cohesive outcome, a Board member may abstain from voting. “The motion passed 17 to 1 with one absension.”

                                          8. Pare down Notes Post-Meeting

                                          Following the meeting, read through your notes while all the discussions remain fresh in your mind, and make any needed revisions. Then, pare the meeting minutes down to their essentials, providing a brief account of the discussion that summarizes arguments made for and against a decision.

                                          People often speak colloquially or in idioms, as in: “This isn’t even in the ballpark” or “You’re beginning to sound like a broken record.” While you may be tempted to keep the exact language in the minutes to add color, resist.

                                          Additionally, if any presentations are part of the meeting, do not include information from the Powerpoint in the minutes. However, you will want to record the key points from the post-presentation discussion.

                                          9. Proofread with Care

                                          Make sure that you spelled all names correctly, inserted the correct date of the meeting, and that your minutes read clearly.

                                          Spell out acronyms the first time they’re used. Remember that the notes may be reviewed by others for whom the acronyms are unfamiliar. Stay consistent in headings, punctuation, and formatting. The minutes should be polished and professional.

                                          10. Distribute Broadly

                                          Once approved, email minutes to the full board — not just the attendees — for review. Your minutes will help keep those who were absent apprised of important actions and decisions.

                                          At the start of the next meeting, call for the approval of the minutes. Note any revisions. Try to work out the agreed-upon changes in the meeting, so that you don’t spend a huge amount of time on revisions.

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                                          Ask for a motion to approve the minutes with the agreed-upon changes. Once an attendee offers a motion, ask for another person in the meeting to “second” the motion. They say, “All approved.” Always ask if there is anyone who does not approve. Assuming not, then say: “The minutes from our last meeting are approved once the agreed-upon changes have been made.”

                                          11. File Meticulously

                                          Since minutes are a legal document, take care when filing them. Make sure the file name of the document is consistent with the file names of previously filed minutes.

                                          Occasionally, members of the organization may want to review past minutes. Know where the minutes are filed!

                                          One Caveat

                                          In this day and age of high technology, you may ask yourself: Wouldn’t it be simpler to record the meeting? This depends on the protocols of the organization, but probably not.

                                          Be sure to ask what the rules are at the organization where you are taking minutes. Remember that the minutes are a record of what was done at the meeting, not what was said at the meeting.

                                          The minutes reflect decisions not discussions. In spite of their name, “minutes,” the minutes are not a minute-by-minute transcript.

                                          Bottom Line

                                          Becoming an expert minutes-taker requires a keen ear, a willingness to learn, and some practice, but by following these tips you will soon become proficient.

                                          Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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