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The Ultimate Productivity Tools for Saving Time

The Ultimate Productivity Tools for Saving Time

Every good “productivitist” has a toolkit. Inside these toolkits, they have a number of tools and tricks that help them to get things done as quickly and effortlessly as possible.

Inside my toolkit is a program called ActiveWords, a really cool tool for reducing the time you spend doing almost everything on your computer.

I came across ActiveWords last year, and to be honest, my first impression was, “Yeah, cool, BUT I’m too lazy to take the time to set it up.” I didn’t use it. A couple of weeks later I came across an article about the program on The Clutter Diet Blog that convinced me to give it another go.

This time I did it the right way and read The ActiveWords Quick Start guide. With that information under my belt, reaping the benefits was pretty much instantaneous.

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ActiveWords allows you to substitute shortcuts or short keys for pieces of text — very useful — but you have probably come across many programs that do the same thing. However, have you come across a program that substitutes text and also launches programs, websites, folders, and files with a shortcut?

Some of the Ways I Use ActiveWords

  • If I write the words mailhubby anywhere on my screen, Outlook will automatically open up and populate a new email with my husband’s email address.

thehubby
    • When I want to write the title of my book, Chaos to Control, A Practical Guide to Getting Things Done, regardless of what program I am working in, I simply type chaos2.

    chaos
      • I often write emails to new clients and want to include a short bio. If I type bio, three sentences about me appear in the email.
      • I have shortcuts for my address, telephone number, ID number, and anything else I may type frequently.

      You can set the program to trigger automatically when you type words, like mailhubby or chaos2, or you can use a trigger key, like F8 or double spacebar, to achieve a specific task.

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      Other Ways You Can Use ActiveWords

      ActiveWords has Addins for Outlook, for Outlook and GTD, or for Lotus Notes and GTD. It also has Addins for Salesforce and Windows commands, such as minimizing a window. It appears that the makers of ActiveWords thought of everything!

      productivity

        It allows you to create your own scripts, so with a couple of clicks, you could go to your favorite website, copy and paste the latest feed, and email it to your sister.

        Well, I’m sure it could do that if you wanted it to.

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        As you can imagine, using a tool like ActiveWords will vastly cut down on the amount of time wasted on repetitive tasks. You can even check to see how much time you are saving by looking at the productivity section of the tool. You can see the amount of keystrokes you have saved and how that translates into hours and money saved.

        I was very happy with my hours saved and my frustration reduced by removing repetitive tasks. What I didn’t realize was that my life was about to get even better — Enter Evernote.

        ActiveWords for Evernote

        evernote

          If you are an Evernote User, you will already be familiar with how your life can be transformed by a small piece of software. Combine that with the functionality of ActiveWords and you now have a powerhouse of productivity. From anywhere on your PC you can do things like open a new note, clip a selection as a new note, or paste a selection into a new note. Plus, from inside Evernote you can do things like email the current note or share it on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter.

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          Spending a short amount of time setting up a program like this will save you hours of work and frustration monthly. Well worth giving it a go!

          What indispensable productivity tools do you have in your toolkit?

          More by this author

          Ciara Conlon

          Productivity coach, speaker, blogger and author of Chaos to Control, a Practical Guide to Getting Things Done

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          Last Updated on April 6, 2020

          15 Best Productivity Hacks for Procrastinators

          15 Best Productivity Hacks for Procrastinators

          Let me guess.

          You should be doing something else rather than reading this article. But due to some unknown force of nature, you decided to procrastinate by reading an article about how to hack procrastination. You deserve a pat on the back.

          Fortunately, procrastination is not a disease. It’s just a mindset that can be changed, however, here are some productivity tips you need to start getting work done:

          First, you need to acknowledge that procrastinating is an unhealthy habit. Not only you’re prioritizing unimportant things, basically, nothing gets done. Still unsure if you’re a procrastinator? Check out this article: Types of Procrastination (And How To Fix Procrastination And Start Doing)

          Second, your commitment to change is very important. You should be physically, emotionally, and mentally determined to change this habit. If not, then you’ll just succumb to the tempting lure of doing other things rather than your tasks or chores.

          Here are sthe best productivity hacks to improve productivity and keep yourself from procrastinating at work:

          1. Give (10+2)*5 a Try

          Let’s start with a classic but very effective hack called (10+2)*5 created by Merlin Mann,[1] author of 43Folders.com. Don’t worry. This is not a complicated Mathematical formula you need to solve.

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          The (10+2)*5 simply means 10 minutes work + 2 minutes break multiplied by 5, completing 1 hour. It is crucial to stick with the time limits and not skipping work and break schedules. The point of this is for you to create a jam-packed routine of work and break schedules. The result? You will eventually skip your break schedules.

          2. Use Red and Blue More Often

          Clean your desk and remove things that might distract you. According to a Science Daily study[2] about which colors improve brain performance, red was found out to increase attention to details while blue sparks creativity. Surrounding your workplace with these colors not only benefits your brain, it’s also pleasing to the eye.

          3. Create a Break Agenda

          List all the things you want to do on your break, be it surfing the web, checking your emails, snack time, taking selfies, Facebook/Twitter—everything.

          Like the (10+2)*5 hack, squeeze these in between work time but the difference is you schedule these activities for ONLY 20 minutes. Eventually, you’ll take your break minutes wisely. You’re finishing tasks while sidetracking to doing the things you enjoy.

          4. Set a Timetable for Your Tasks

          Like any other habits, procrastinating is a tough wall to break. Replace this habit with another habit. When you’re assigned a task, set a timetable for each step. Let’s say you have a big research task. Here’s a sample timetable:

          9:00 – 9:10 am – Set up all your tools, browser tabs, emails, coffee, etc..
          9:10 – 10:00 am – Internet research
          10:00 – 10:45 am – Look through existing files
          10:45 – 11:00 am – Break time!
          11:00 – 12:00 pm – Outline the research report

          Deadlines are the best hack for getting things done. Setting a specific time to finish a task creates time pressure even if the deadline has passed.

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          5. Take It Outside!

          Do yourself a favor and don’t ruin the comfy vibe of your home. If you need to work on a stressful project, do it in a library or coffee shop. You’ll never finish it anyway. Your cozy sofa and toasty bed will just lure you into napping yourself to doom.

          6. Become Productively Lazy

          Instead of finding all sorts of ways to unproductively procrastinate, use your habit to look for shortcuts and new ways to finish your tasks. Staple multiple papers at a time or master the 3-second t-shirt folding technique. A strong drive combined with laziness sometimes bring out the productive and creative side you never knew you have!

          7. Assign a ‘Task Deputy’

          It could be your colleague, your supervisor, or your significant other, anyone who has the unforgiving guts to reprimand you when you procrastinate. You could go the extra mile by paying up unfinished tasks or times you open your Facebook or watch a funny cat video on YouTube. Let’s see how five bucks every time you procrastinate will change you.

          8. Consider a Gadget-Free Desk

          According to a study by Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers, average users check on their phones 150 times per day and having your phone just an elbow away just creates sizzle to this habit.[3]

          Removing mobile devices and gadgets allows you to focus on your work without the constant interruption from notifications, calls, and text messages. It eliminates the very distracting ambiance and the urge to unlock your phone just because.

          9. Prepping the Night

          Before hitting the sack to oblivion, prepare everything you’ll need the next day. This will probably take you 15 minutes tops, saving you more time for coffee in the morning.

          Spin class at am? Pack up your gym clothes, shoes, socks, etc. or better, create a checklist so you don’t miss anything. You can also prep your food into containers and just grab one before leaving.

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          10. Do a 7-Minute Workout in the Morning

          Exercising is proven to increase productivity and stimulate release of endorphin or “Happy Hormones”.

          Take a jog outdoors and get warmed up for the day. Don’t feel like running outside? Hop on a treadmilli. It’s a great investment and there are a lot of ways you can use a treadmill like endurance running and metabolism training. On a budget? Here’s a 7 minute, no-equipment needed workout you can do at home:

          11. Set-up Mini Tasks

          If you’re given a big project, break it down into mini tasks. Create a checklist and start with the easy ones until you finish. Got an article to write? Just start with the title and the first sentence. Or perhaps you have a visual presentation to make?

          Spend 15 minutes on your outline, take five minutes coffee break, then finish the first two slides. Accomplishing something, no matter how tiny, still gives you that sense of fulfillment.

          12. Create an Inspirational Board or Reminder

          I found these mini desk chalkboards from Etsy you can use to write motivating quotes.

          Or you know what? Simply write “Do it now!” and stare at it for 10 seconds every time you feel like dropping by on Reddit.

          13. Redecorate Your Room

          Redecorating my room motivates me to maintain that ‘new’ look for some time until I get use to it and eventually stop. So I redecorate again and again, it became a monthly habit really. Here are some DIY ideas you can do to any room without spending much.

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          14. Ready Your Nibbles

          You know that trip to the pantry? It’s just seconds away but it took you several minutes just to get your fruit snacks in the fridge. Before starting a task, prepare your nibbles on your desk to avoid zoning out and losing yourself on the way to the pantry.

          Bonus productivity hacks you can do at home:

          15. Schedule Your Chores

          Write down your chores in a weekly basis with matching day and time when you should be doing these.

          For the artsy folks, you can create fun chore charts like these or simply stick the list somewhere visibly annoying e.g. mirrors, doors, TV. The trick is listing as many chores as you can for the week and including unfinished chores the following week. Who likes seeing a long list of chores first thing in the morning?

          More Tips to Overcome Procrastination

          Featured photo credit: Glenn Carstens-Peters via unsplash.com

          Reference

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