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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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                                          Last Updated on February 21, 2019

                                          How to Stop Information Overload

                                          How to Stop Information Overload

                                          Information overload is a creature that has been growing on the Internet’s back since its beginnings. The bigger the Internet gets, the more information there is. The more quality information we see, the more we want to consume it. The more we want to consume it, the more overloaded we feel.

                                          This has to stop somewhere. And it can.

                                          As the year comes to a close, there’s no time like the present to make the overloading stop.

                                          But before I explain exactly what I mean, let’s discuss information overload in general.

                                          How Serious Is Information Overload?

                                          The sole fact that there’s more and more information published online every single day is not the actual problem. Only the quality information becomes the problem.

                                          This sounds kind of strange…but bear with me.

                                          When we see some half-baked blog posts we don’t even consider reading, we just skip to the next thing. But when we see something truly interesting — maybe even epic — we want to consume it.

                                          We even feel like we have to consume it. And that’s the real problem.

                                          No matter what topic we’re interested in, there are always hundreds of quality blogs publishing entries every single day (or every other day). Not to mention all the forums, message boards, social news sites, and so on.

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                                          The amount of epic content on the Internet these days is so big that it’s virtually impossible for us to digest it all. But we try anyway.

                                          That’s when we feel overloaded. If you’re not careful, one day you’ll find yourself reading the 15th blog post in a row on some nice WordPress tweaking techniques because you feel that for some reason, “you need to know this.”

                                          Information overload is a plague. There’s no vaccine, there’s no cure. The only thing you have is self-control.

                                          Luckily, you’re not on your own. There are some tips you can follow to protect yourself from information overload and, ultimately, fight it.

                                          But first, admit that information overload is really bad for you.

                                          Why Information Overload Is Bad for You

                                          Information overload stops you from taking action. That’s the biggest problem here.

                                          When you try to consume more and more information every day, you start to notice that even though you’ve been reading tons of articles, watching tons of videos and listening to tons of podcasts, the stream of incoming information seems to be infinite.

                                          Therefore, you convince yourself that you need to be on a constant lookout for new information if you want to be able to accomplish anything in your life, work and/or passion. The final result is that you are consuming way too much information, and taking way too little action because you don’t have enough time for it.

                                          The belief that you need to be on this constant lookout for information is just not true.

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                                          You don’t need every piece of advice possible to live your life, do your work or enjoy your passion.

                                          How to Stop Information Overload (And Start to Achieve More)

                                          So how to recognize the portion of information that you really need? Start with setting goals.

                                          1. Set Your Goals

                                          If you don’t have your goals put in place, you’ll be just running around grabbing every possible advice and thinking that it’s “just what you’ve been looking for.”

                                          Setting goals is a much more profound task than just a way to get rid of information overload. Now by “goals” I don’t mean things like “get rich, have kids, and live a good life”. I mean something much more within your immediate grasp. Something that can be achieved in the near future — like within a month (or a year) at most.

                                          Basically, something that you want to attract to your life, and you already have some plan on how you’re going to make it happen. So no hopes and dreams, just actionable, precise goals.

                                          Then once you have your goals, they become a set of strategies and tactics you need to act upon.

                                          2. Know What to Skip When Facing New Information

                                          Once you have your goals, plans, strategies and tasks, you can use them to decide what information is really crucial.

                                          First of all, if the information you’re about to read has nothing to do with your current goals and plans, then skip it. You don’t need it.

                                          If it does, then ask yourself these questions:

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                                          • Will you be able to put this information into action immediately?
                                          • Does it have the potential to maybe alter your nearest actions/tasks?
                                          • Is it so incredible that you absolutely need to take action on it right away?

                                          If the information is not actionable in a day or two, then skip it.

                                          (You’ll forget about it anyway.)

                                          And that’s basically it. Digest only what can be used immediately. If you have a task that you need to do, consume only the information necessary for getting this one task done, nothing more.

                                          You need to be focused in order to have clear judgment, and be able to decide whether some piece of information is mandatory or redundant.

                                          Self-control comes handy too. It’s quite easy to convince yourself that you really need something just because of poor self-control. Try to fight this temptation, and be as ruthless about it as possible – if the information is not matching your goals and plans, and you can’t take action on it in the near future, then SKIP IT.

                                          3. Be Aware of the Minimal Effective Dose

                                          There’s a thing called the MED – Minimal Effective Dose. I was first introduced to this idea by Tim Ferriss. In his book The 4-Hour BodyTim illustrates the minimal effective dose by talking about medical drugs.

                                          Everybody knows that every pill has a MED, and after that specific dose, no other positive effects occur, only some negative side effects if you overdose big.

                                          Consuming information is somewhat similar. You need just a precise amount of it to help you to achieve your goals and put your plans into life.

                                          Everything more than that amount won’t improve your results any further. And if you try to consume too much of it, it will eventually stop you from taking any action altogether.

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                                          4. Don’t Procrastinate by Consuming More Information

                                          Probably one of the most common causes of consuming ridiculous amounts of information is the need to procrastinate. By reading yet another article, we often feel that we are indeed working, and that we’re doing something good – we’re learning, which in result will make us a more complete and educated person.

                                          This is just self-deception. The truth is we’re simply procrastinating. We don’t feel like doing what really needs to be done – the important stuff – so instead we find something else, and convince ourselves that “that thing” is equally important. Which is just not true.

                                          Don’t consume information just for the sake of it. It gets you nowhere.

                                          The focus of this article is not on how to stop procrastinating, but if you’re having such issue, I recommend you read this:

                                          Procrastination – A Step-By-Step Guide to Stop Procrastinating

                                          Summing It Up

                                          As you can see, information overload can be a real problem and it can have a sever impact on your productivity and overall performance.

                                          I know I have had my share of problems with it (and probably still have from time to time). But creating this simple set of rules helps me to fight it, and to keep my lizard brain from taking over.

                                          I hope it helps you too, especially as we head into a new year with a new chance at setting ourselves up for success.

                                          More Resources About Boosting Brain Power

                                          Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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