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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

          7 Characteristics of Procrastination (And How to Fight Them) This Is Why Taking Action Creates Success Less Is More: How to Become Productive with Less 40 Simple Ways To Practice Gratitude Why Failure Can Take You One Step Closer to Success

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          1 The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness 2 How to Stop Being Passive and Start Getting What You Want 3 How to Prevent Decision Fatigue From Clouding Your Judgement 4 5 Less-Known Reasons Why Less is More 5 10 Smart Productivity Software to Boost Work Performance

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          Last Updated on July 10, 2020

          The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

          The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

          Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

          Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

          The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

          Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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          Program Your Own Algorithms

          Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

          Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

          By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

          How to Form a Ritual

          I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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          Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

          1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
          2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
          3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
          4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

          Ways to Use a Ritual

          Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

          1. Waking Up

          Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

          2. Web Usage

          How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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          3. Reading

          How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

          4. Friendliness

          Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

          5. Working

          One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

          6. Going to the gym

          If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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          7. Exercise

          Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

          8. Sleeping

          Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

          8. Weekly Reviews

          The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

          Final Thoughts

          We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

          More Tips to Conquer Time Wasters and Procrastination

           

          Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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