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Simplify Your Productivity Tools To Get More Done

Simplify Your Productivity Tools To Get More Done

    Anytime a new productivity app hits the App Store or the web it’s a race to see if it’s the next best thing; the last app you will ever need to become more productive, a better human being, or, hell, even cuter. Anytime a new “productivity guru” tells us how to get more work done we may as well spend a week or month to give it a try.

    I can’t tell you how much money and time I have racked up in trying new apps, paying subscriptions to things like Remember the Milk or Toodledo, or even creating precise taxonomies for tagging my tasks.

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    If you are like me in any way (and you probably are because you read Lifehack.org), I can help out by telling you now that no single application or productivity system will make you more productive. In fact, most of our so-called “systems” tend to get in our way and make us productive at creating productivity stuff. And that’s about it.

    It’s a racket

    When I first read GTD about 4 years ago my inner geek instantly saw a way to systematize my work and life. With that came an eagerness to look for everyone’s “implementation” and to try out many different ways of setting up my own system. I bought a labeler, filing cabinet, inbox, paper planner thingy, some decent pens, index cards (way too many index cards), and preceded to Get Things Done.

    Or so I thought.

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    What happened for a good portion of 2 to 3 years was my endless tweaking of a system and search for something better that didn’t really support my work. The system ran me and actually made me scared to use it. It felt like a bottomless pit of empty projects and tasks that I would never look at or review because of their unimportance.

    All of this brought me to my original point: productivity apps and systems don’t make the man, the man makes the productivity system.

    Cutting the fat

    So, instead of being buried in a sea of productivity tools and ideas that were not supporting me, for the last year and a half I have been trimming down my system to the most essential and useful.

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    I first went on a paper productivity kick. It was like a detox for a productivity pr0n junky. Keeping projects and action lists with paper allows one to not be confined to a certain set of labels, buttons, and tags. It allows you to just write things down and helps to stay out of your way. Another nice thing about paper productivity is that it isn’t really filled with features and because of that doesn’t move you to “feature-tweak” it. You can read more about the benefits of paper productivity here.

    While using paper I identified some things that I truly didn’t like that I knew I would need a digital system for like:

    • due date sorting
    • sorting in general
    • easier manipulation of lists and changing tasks without rewriting everything
    • ability to easily send something by email
    • a place to store notes directly linked to tasks

    So, I then found myself a set of tools that met these requirements and allowed me to practice the Getting Things Done system at the minimum. I cut the fat of my productivity system and finally put myself in control of it.

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    The practical part

    If you are like me and have been swimming in a sea of productivity pr0n for too long and want to own your productivity system rather than allow it to own you, here are a few simple steps:

    1. Go on a productivity tool detox. Quick searching for the “15 Best Productivity Tools on ‘X’ Operating System”, stay away from the multitude of apps that promise that they will help you get more done and try something simple like paper for a while. You will find out what you truly need in a system.
    2. While using the simplest tools possible actually get some work done with them. Allow the productivity tool to support you and start to learn how to trust it in your everyday work life.
    3. Make a list of things that you absolutely need – not want – in a productivity tool and try to find the easiest implementation of it. Try really hard not to go on a quest for the greatest productivity system ever made. It doesn’t exist.
    4. Get settled in with your new set of tools and stick to them. Once you feel that your system supports your work, make a pact to not change your tools for 90 days. After that you can reevaluate and tweak things as needed. Then stick to them for another 90 days. Rinse and repeat.

    And that’s it. It’s important for an information worker to have a set of tools that truly supports her work. But what is just as important is that worker have a set of tools that she sticks with, that she knows and trusts, and that don’t get in her way. Have you settled into a system that supports your work and allows you to get things done? If so, tell us about it in the comments below.

    More by this author

    CM Smith

    A technologist and writer who shares advice on personal productivity, creativity and how to use technology to get things done.

    Design Is Important: How To Fail At Blogging 7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively 6 Unexpected Ways Journaling Every Day Will Make Your Life Better Why Getting Things Done is the Best Productivity System For You How to Beat Procrastination: 29 Ways to Beat It Once and for All To Automate or not to Automate Your Personal Productivity System

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    Last Updated on June 19, 2019

    10 Websites To Learn Something New In 30 Minutes A Day

    10 Websites To Learn Something New In 30 Minutes A Day

    Learning something new is always an exciting endeavour to commence. The problem is that most of us get wrapped up in busy distractions throughout the day so that we can never find the time to learn the new skill we want.

    What’s worse is that some of us spend hours learning this new skill only to give up after a few months, which is precious time that goes down the toilet.

    Luckily, there’s a better solution.

    Instead of using our time to sit through long lectures and lengthy video courses, we can take advantage of all the amazing websites that can help us learn a new skill in 30 minutes or less.

    We’ve collected the best sites that teach a diversified list of topics and have decided to share them with you here today. Enjoy!

    1. Lynda

    Estimated time: 20-30 mins
    Topics: Business, marketing, design, software tools

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    Get access to 1,000s of courses with a 10-day free trial to develop your skills in business, photoshop, software, and much more.

    2. Skillshare

    Estimated time: 20-30 mins
    Topics: Cooking, design, software tools, marketing, photography

    Ten dollars per month gets you access to bite-sized, on-demand courses taught by leading experts like Gary Vaynerchuk, Guy Kawasaki, and more.

    3. Hackaday

    Estimated time: 5 mins
    Topics: Life hacks, productivity

    This website delivers tips to make your life better and more productive. Just 5 minutes a day is all you need to learn new life hacks to improve your lifestyle.

    4. Codeacademy

    Estimated time: 15-30 mins
    Topics: Software development

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    A gamified approach to coding, Codeacademy helps anyone build a website through an interactive learning method. Learn any programming language from HTML, CSS, Javascript, Ruby on Rails, and more by actually building instead of spending your time on theory.

    5. 7-min

    Estimated time: 7 mins
    Topics: Health & Fitness

    Do you have just 7 minutes to get in shape? Most of us aren’t in the shape that we want to be because of the lack of time we have. Putting our workout apparel on, driving to the gym, and driving back can take up a lot of our time in themselves.

    In just 7 minutes, this website will go through dozens of routines to get you in shape and ready for the day ahead. Time is no longer an excuse!

    6. Calm

    Estimated time: 10 mins
    Topics: Meditation

    Get guided meditations right to your screen. With Calm, you can learn different types of meditation where a teacher can guide you step-by-step through the process, even if it’s your first time trying meditation.

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    7. Highbrow

    Estimated time: 5 mins
    Topics: Business, creative skills, design, history

    Bite-sized email courses delivered to your inbox every morning to learn everything from film history, marketing, business, and more.

    8. Big Think

    Estimated time: 10 mins
    Topics: Technology, science, life

    Learn from the world’s experts about scientific breakthroughs, revolutionary business concepts, and more in short, chunk-sized videos.

    9. Khan Academy

    Estimated time: 30 mins
    Topics: Academics

    Recognized by Bill Gates as one of the best teachers online, Salman Khan breaks down complicated subjects into simplified concepts to help you understand them in minutes, not weeks.

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    10. Rype

    Estimated time: 15-30 mins
    Topics: Foreign languages

    Are you “too busy” to learn a language? Meet Rype, your personal trainer for languages. Get unlimited 1-on-1 private language lessons with professional teachers around the world. Each lesson is just 30 minutes, allowing you to fit learning a language into your busy lifestyle. You can try it free for 14-days and see for yourself.

    Over to you

    Which of these topics were your favorite?

    We’d love to hear from you, and please share this with friends who are also looking to learn something new!

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