Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on July 10, 2018

Top 10 Productivity Tools to Help You Achieve 10x More in Less Time

Top 10 Productivity Tools to Help You Achieve 10x More in Less Time

Being productive isn’t about which apps, tools, and frames of mind you use to get things done. Enhancing your productivity is about using a set of tools and processes that can make up a full blown productivity system, becoming comfortable with and relying on those tools, and then using them to get important things done in your life and work.

Instead of recommending the best app or scanner or type of paper, it’s better to give you the top 10 tools that anyone who wants to stay productive can use.

Here are the top 10 productivity tools that you can use to achieve more in less time:

1. Task/Project manager to organize works

Task and project management of some kind is essential to making sure that you are getting things done as well as getting the right things done.

It’s very difficult to know that you are working on the thing that you should be working on if you don’t have all the stuff that needs done organized somehow. We try to be tool agnostic here at Lifehack, but here are some great applications to get you started:

2. Ubiquitous capture device to store your ideas

Another important aspect of being productive is to make sure that you always have some way of capturing “inputs” in your life. That is, if you have an idea or cool new thought about a project you are working on, you have to make sure that you can capture it so you can process that information later.

I carry a GTD Notetaker wallet because I’m a total geek. You can use anything you want though to capture like the following:

  • Smart phone with any notes apps such as Evernote
  • Pen and paper

3. Set boundaries to take control of your life

To be able to stay productive day-in and day-out, you have to set and keep boundaries. You have to protect your time and energy so you can work on the things that are most important to you.

Advertising

What are some of the things in your life that you want to do? To get those important things done, set up boundaries so you aren’t side-tracked and taken away from your goals.

Not sure how to do it? Learn from this guide:

How to Take Back Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

4. Know when and how to say “no”

This goes hand-in-hand with number three. Once you have boundaries set for what you want to and don’t want to do in life, you can now know when to say “no” to other less important things that make their way into your life.

The best way to decrease the stuff that you “have” to do is to say “no” to the things that don’t really matter to you and that won’t further your goals.

Here’s Leo Beobauta’s guide on The Gentle Art of Saying No.

5. Set realistic deadlines and expectations

I’m a developer by trade so I know how to set unrealistic expectations. A good rule of thumb when trying to set a deadline is to double however long that you will think it will take.

Of course, this is good for “light” planning, not exact planning that some jobs may need.

Advertising

Learn to make effective deadlines with these 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines.

6. Use calendar wisely

A calendar is used for the “hard landscape” of our lives. Use it to set due dates and reminders for things that are date sensitive.

Your calendar can either be analog or digital, but having a digital calendar is nice because of the ability to search, move things around easily, as well as send invites to people.

You can find some nice calendar apps here. Also, take a look at this article to find out more tips on how to use calendar to work efficiently:

How to Use a Calendar to Create Time and Space

7. Check your inboxes and organize information

I can’t remember what life was like before I had my inboxes set up, but I can imagine it was pretty messy.

It’s important for you to have places for incoming information and potential projects to sit so you can then process them later.

Inboxes can be in several forms like these:

Advertising

  • An inbox section in your task / project management software
  • A physical, paper inbox (one for home and work)
  • Voicemail box
  • Email inbox

Then make sure to check and process these inboxes on a regular basis.

While you can filter your emails with these techniques, here’s a simple step-by-step guide to help you achieve inbox zero:

How I Achieved Inbox Zero in 4 Steps

8. Make use of a great scanner or label maker

Or both, really. Having a scanner like the ScanSnap S1500 has totally changed the way that I file things (I don’t).

All I do is scan documents in and throw them in a generic area folder, like “Work” or “Financial”, and then simply run text searches if I need to find something.

If you are still doing paper filing, having an awesome, trusty labelmaker is something you can’t live without and won’t once you get one.

Basically any labelmaker is good.

9. Utilize office document software (and their shortcuts)

It’s pretty standard now that you need some sort of document creation software to get things done. The ability to create spreadsheets, documents, presentations, etc. is a must.

Advertising

You can use a free suite like Google Docs or Office Web Apps.

If you want to get “serious”, you can get Apple’s iWork suite or Microsoft Office.

Don’t forget about the free and open source OpenOffice.org.

More importantly, you need to know all the shortcuts when using these softwares. Here’re some tricks you should know:

You are only as good as your tools. Even though you have some good software and systems in place to support your productivity efforts, without solid working knowledge of you OS of choice (whether it’s Windows, Mac, Linux, or some other weird thing), you will always be losing time when trying to get things done.

10. Start to journal

There is no better way to keep track of and understand the who, what, where, when, and why of your productivity than through journaling every day.

Whether you write a full 750 words or just take down a log of your time and tasks completed, journaling is a great way to look back on what you have accomplished, your hangups, and other metrics that are important when you are trying to be more productive.

Here’s a how-to guide on how to start journaling:

Writing Journal for a Better and More Productive Self (The How-To Guide)

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

More by this author

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 Top 10 Productivity Tools to Help You Achieve 10x More in Less Time

Trending in Productivity

1 8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More 2 How Exercising Makes You More Productive 3 10 Practical Ways to Drastically Improve Your Time Management Skills 4 15 Highly Successful People Who Failed On Their Way To Success 5 How to Memorize More and Faster Than Other People

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on September 20, 2018

8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

You go to the gym to train your muscles. You run outside or go for hikes to train your endurance. Or, maybe you do neither of those, but still wish you exercised more.

Well, here is how to train one of the most important parts of your body: your brain.

When you train your brain, you will:

  • Avoid embarrassing situations. You remember his face, but what was his name?
  • Be a faster learner in all sorts of different skills. No problem for you to pick up a new language or new management skill.
  • Avoid diseases that hit as you get older. Alzheimer’s will not be affecting you.

So how to train your brain and improve your cognitive skills?

1. Work your memory

Twyla Tharp, a NYC-based renowned choreographer has come up with the following memory workout:

When she watches one of her performances, she tries to remember the first twelve to fourteen corrections she wants to discuss with her cast without writing them down.

If you think this is anything less than a feat, then think again. In her book The Creative Habit she says that most people cannot remember more than three.

The practice of both remembering events or things and then discussing them with others has actually been supported by brain fitness studies.

Memory activities that engage all levels of brain operation—receiving, remembering and thinking—help to improve the function of the brain.

Advertising

Now, you may not have dancers to correct, but you may be required to give feedback on a presentation, or your friends may ask you what interesting things you saw at the museum. These are great opportunities to practically train your brain by flexing your memory muscles.

What is the simplest way to help yourself remember what you see? Repetition.

For example, say you just met someone new:

“Hi, my name is George”

Don’t just respond with, “Nice to meet you”. Instead, say, “Nice to meet you George.”

Got it? Good.

2. Do something different repeatedly

By actually doing something new over and over again, your brain wires new pathways that help you do this new thing better and faster.

Think back to when you were three years old. You surely were strong enough to hold a knife and a fork just fine. Yet, when you were eating all by yourself, you were creating a mess.

It was not a matter of strength, you see. It was a matter of cultivating more and better neural pathways that would help you eat by yourself just like an adult does.

Advertising

And guess what? With enough repetition you made that happen!

But how does this apply to your life right now?

Say you are a procrastinator. The more you don’t procrastinate, the more you teach your brain not to wait for the last minute to make things happen.

Now, you might be thinking “Duh, if only not procrastinating could be that easy!”

Well, it can be. By doing something really small, that you wouldn’t normally do, but is in the direction of getting that task done, you will start creating those new precious neural pathways.

So if you have been postponing organizing your desk, just take one paper and put in its right place. Or, you can go even smaller. Look at one piece of paper and decide where to put it: Trash? Right cabinet? Another room? Give it to someone?

You don’t actually need to clean up that paper; you only need to decide what you need to do with it.

That’s how small you can start. And yet, those neural pathways are still being built. Gradually, you will transform yourself from a procrastinator to an in-the-moment action taker.

3. Learn something new

It might sound obvious, but the more you use your brain, the better its going to perform for you.

Advertising

For example, learning a new instrument improves your skill of translating something you see (sheet music) to something you actually do (playing the instrument).

Learning a new language exposes your brain to a different way of thinking, a different way of expressing yourself.

You can even literally take it a step further, and learn how to dance. Studies indicate that learning to dance helps seniors avoid Alzheimer’s. Not bad, huh?

4. Follow a brain training program

The Internet world can help you improve your brain function while lazily sitting on your couch. A clinically proven program like BrainHQ can help you improve your memory, or think faster, by just following their brain training exercises.

5. Work your body

You knew this one was coming didn’t you? Yes indeed, exercise does not just work your body; it also improves the fitness of your brain.

Even briefly exercising for 20 minutes facilitates information processing and memory functions. But it’s not just that–exercise actually helps your brain create those new neural connections faster. You will learn faster, your alertness level will increase, and you get all that by moving your body.

Now, if you are not already a regular exerciser, and already feel guilty that you are not helping your brain by exercising more, try a brain training exercise program like Exercise Bliss.

Remember, just like we discussed in #2, by training your brain to do something new repeatedly, you are actually changing yourself permanently.

6. Spend time with your loved ones

If you want optimal cognitive abilities, then you’ve got to have meaningful relationships in your life.  Talking with others and engaging with your loved ones helps you think more clearly, and it can also lift your mood.

Advertising

If you are an extrovert, this holds even more weight for you. At a class at Stanford University, I learned that extroverts actually use talking to other people as a way to understand and process their own thoughts.

I remember that the teacher told us that after a personality test said she was an extrovert, she was surprised. She had always thought of herself as an introvert. But then, she realized how much talking to others helped her frame her own thoughts, so she accepted her new-found status as an extrovert.

7. Avoid crossword puzzles

Many of us, when we think of brain fitness, think of crossword puzzles. And it’s true–crossword puzzles do improve our fluency, yet studies show they are not enough by themselves.

Are they fun? Yes. Do they sharpen your brain? Not really.

Of course, if you are doing this for fun, then by all means go ahead. If you are doing it for brain fitness, then you might want to choose another activity

8. Eat right – and make sure dark chocolate is included

Foods like fish, fruits, and vegetables help your brain perform optimally. Yet, you might not know that dark chocolate gives your brain a good boost as well.

When you eat chocolate, your brain produces dopamine. And dopamine helps you learn faster and remember better. Not to mention, chocolate contains flavonols, antioxidants, which also improve your brain functions.

So next time you have something difficult to do, make sure you grab a bite or two of dark chocolate!

The bottom line

Now that you know how to train your brain, it’s actually time to start doing.

Don’t just consume this content and then go on with your life as if nothing has changed. Put this knowledge into action and become smarter than ever!

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Read Next