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This List of 15 Free Productivity Apps Will Give You Your Time Back

This List of 15 Free Productivity Apps Will Give You Your Time Back

As I’m sure any of us can attest, there are many distractions that take away from our productivity and occupy time that would be better spent elsewhere. There are plenty of ways to help you save time and increase efficiency. These 15 free apps will make day-to-day tasks a breeze and give you back your focus for where it really belongs.

Self Control

This app for Mac gives you laser focus by taking away that which distracts you the very most on your computer. Rather than blocking out absolutely everything, Self Control lets you specify a blacklist of websites. Just set your list and a period of time, and crank through your to-do list. But be warned: once you’ve specified an amount of time, you will not have access to your blacklisted sites until time is up.

SelfControlApp-Lifehack

    Remember the Milk

    Available for Android and iOS, Remember the Milk is an easy way to stay on top of your tasks without employing a single post-it or back-of-your-hand-note ever again. The app syncs seamlessly with apps like Evernote and even commands you give to Siri so nothing falls through the cracks. New releases are rare with this app – but the feature set is already so great, this is hardly a big complaint.

    RemembertheMilk-Lifehack

      Dashlane

      Available for Android, iOS and desktop, this password manager gives you an easy-to-use password management app. Securely store your data and use the free form filler to quickly log into different accounts and rapidly fill out forms.  The app also tracks your online shopping, and has emergency password retrieval. There are a few login pages that Dashlane doesn’t cover, but the peace of mind more than makes up for it.

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      Dashlane-Lifehack

        Day One

        Currently only available on iPhone, iPad & Mac, Day One gives you a place to journal. Automatically include details like the date/time, weather, photos, music you’re playing, location and more to remember for years to come. Only con: for the more sentimental people out there, you won’t have a journal you can hold in your hand later on down the line.

        DayOne-Lifehack

          Pocket

          Keep track of relevant and interesting webpages – everything from articles and recipes to videos – and take a look later when you have the time to really digest it. Pocket will highlight the best information for you to focus on. Just make sure you go in and sort through what you’ve saved regularly or you might accumulate a backup and end up reading for hours, with no actual productivity saved. Available on Android & iOS.

          Pocket-Lifehack

            Sunrise

            Available on both Android & iOS, Sunrise is a calendar app with a clean and beautiful interface. Keep track of everything you’ve got going on with reminders, sync with iCloud and Google Calendar, weather updates and more. If you’re frequently on the road like me, don’t worry – you’ve got automatic time zone adjustment. It’s set to only show you three days at a time, which could be a pro or a con depending on how you look at it.

            Sunrise-Lifehack

              Slack

              This app is available on Android, iOS and your desktop and gives you a platform for team communication. My own team and I have found it minimizes email deluge and provides a great place to collaborate. Create different channels for sub-teams within your larger team and archive conversations when they’re no longer relevant. Slack also has a powerful search function that helps you locate conversations from weeks before.

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                Shyp

                Never experience another interminable wait in line at the post office. Shyp’s tagline – “the easiest way to ship anything” – is no joke. The app’s got a simple and clean UI and all you have to do is fill out your recipient’s info, snap a picture of the item you’re sending and request a ‘hero’ to fulfill your request. So far, our team in San Francisco hasn’t waited more than 10 minutes for a pickup. The only drawback is a lack of transparency on what the exact shipping costs will be, but you can’t deny the simplicity of the entire process – as well as the fact that it’s only available in San Francisco for now. Available on iOS & Android.

                Shyp-Lifehack

                  Evernote

                  Long hailed as one of the best apps for productivity, Evernote lives up to every bit of the hype. A beautiful app that lets you, literally, remember everything. Document your brainstorm, collect webpages, pictures and more in one place, and collaborate on all of this with those that need to be in the loop. Some of the other great features come at a cost, but definitely worth considering the investment! Available on both Android and iOS.

                  Evernote-Lifehack

                    Venmo

                    No more difficulty sharing the bill – Venmo lets you quickly and securely send or receive payments. From rent to splitting dinner, making a payment is done in a matter of taps and less than 30 seconds. You can set these payments to private or share them more widely with those in your network. Be aware: using a credit card in the app comes with transaction fees, while a debit card is free. Available on both Android and iOS.

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                      Contacts+ 

                      A simple and well-designed UI to keep all of your contacts in one place. Contacts+ pulls in information from other services you use, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, among others. Merge your contacts to save time, and use the smart search to quickly find exactly who you’re looking for. Available on both Android and iOS.

                      Contacts

                        Google Drive

                        This one’s an obvious choice – but one that my team uses every single day to collaborate on docs and stay on the same page (no pun intended, I promise). I’m a particular fan of the feature that lets you “suggest” edits to the doc, rather than just leave comments or completely edit without the owner’s approval. Available for Android and iOS.

                        GoogleDrive-Lifehack

                          RescueTime

                          RescueTime gives you weekly reports of how you’re spending your time online – which sites you’re on and how long you’re spending on them. This helps you understand your daily behaviors and which behaviors are the ones making you the most productive. You can set goals for yourself and see how you’re measuring up over time. The only drawback is that for the app to be truly accurate, you have to properly and sometimes painstakingly categorize your behaviors. This takes a while, but you’ll get this time back in no time. Available on Android.

                          RescueTime-Lifehack

                            Lift

                            This community-driven app gives you a way to set goals for yourself and keep track of them. Watch your progress, and turn to the community – which includes expert guidance – when you need support. There are options for peer coaching, bringing your friends on board and helping others with their own goals. One con is that the app crashes fairly regularly. Available on both Android and iOS.

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                            Lift-Lifehack

                              Concur

                              Never confront masses of mangled and torn receipts ever again! As someone who finds himself on the road regularly for work, managing and submitting expense reports on a timely basis can be difficult. With Concur, all you have to do is snap a picture of the receipt (and then throw it away – you don’t need it anymore!), fill out necessary details and instantly add it to your existing report. Managers can quickly approve or deny reports as well. The UI leaves a bit to be desired, but that’s a purely cosmetic complaint. Available on both Android and iOS.

                              Concur-Lifehack

                                Save even more time by swapping out your default keyboard for a third party keyboard (whether you’re on Android or iOS!) that you can use in all of your apps for fast, easy typing.  What are your tech tips for staying productive? Share them in the comments!

                                Featured photo credit: Top Free Productivity Apps via picjumbo.com

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                                Last Updated on October 14, 2020

                                Delegation of Authority: The Complete Guide for Effective Leaders

                                Delegation of Authority: The Complete Guide for Effective Leaders

                                Do you absolutely hate failing? You’re in luck because, today, you’ll learn the art of how to tackle failure in your work life. The magic trick is called delegation of authority.

                                Failure is often a result of excess burden. When you take on more than you can handle, you are unable to perform well, even if you have the expertise to do it perfectly. It’s demotivating, a waste of time, and extremely annoying.

                                Let’s take a deep look into the delegation of authority to figure out how to make the most of it.

                                What Does It Mean to Delegate Authority?

                                Delegating authority is neither magic nor rocket science. It is exactly what it means: division of workload and distribution of power.

                                Now, this is where most superiors get worried. They misunderstand the idea and believe that distribution will take away their authority.

                                However, the division and distribution of authority are like giving the entire team autonomy over their own job, but their control is limited to just that.

                                The superior still has supremacy over all the employees.

                                Authority delegation minimizes the workload of the superior. This work is broken down into smaller tasks and spread out into a team so that every member works simultaneously to finish the project in a shorter time.

                                3 Elements of Delegating Authority

                                The delegation of authority has three elements:

                                1. Assigning Responsibility

                                This is the first step in the process. A person who is in charge, such as a manager or a team leader, assigns other team members certain tasks that have to be completed in a given period. Of course, this is only possible if the superior has more control and authority in the work environment than the subordinates.

                                2. Granting Authority

                                The next step is to give the subordinates enough authority and responsibility for them to complete the task and act independently.

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                                So, let’s say you are a supervisor who allocated one person in your team to do a certain task. This assignment will be useless to you if the subordinate has to come to you every step of the way to get permission and signatures required to fulfill the allocated job.

                                Unless you’re giving authority, you aren’t delegating. Instead, you’re only assigning a task, and that won’t bring you any benefits.

                                Also, granting authority puts the subordinate in charge. This person is now responsible for doing what they’re assigned, however they like. It’s up to them how they tackle obstacles. All that you as the supervisor should be concerned about are the final results.

                                3. Maintaining Accountability

                                There’s always a risk that some team members may not act responsibly, especially when they have been given authority over the assigned task. This is why you have to make every employee or team member accountable through some rules and regulations.

                                The superior must always have the right to ask the responsible person about their task[1]. Creating an accountability culture in a company is important, and accountability goes upwards in the hierarchy of a work environment. Never offer any leniency in this regard if you want to ensure quality outputs.

                                This step of giving and receiving feedback helps improve the future work ethic immensely.[2]

                                Effective delegation of authority

                                  Why Is It Important to Delegate Authority?

                                  Many times, superiors take on all the duties because they have a hard time trusting someone else to do the job as well as they would do themselves.

                                  That’s a valid concern, and it may keep you from getting the most out of authority delegation.

                                  But, with this risk comes a long list of benefits. It is actually important to delegate authority for the betterment of your organization and team.

                                  Superiors Can Perform Better

                                  The most important benefit of delegating authority is that the manager divides authority and gets the time to do their actual job.

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                                  As a supervisor, your first duty is to maintain the flow of your team. With your workload minimized and more time at hand, you can pay attention to the minor details.

                                  It gives supervisors the time to look at the more important stuff. Simultaneously, they get a chance to test which team members are most efficient. In case of any problem, the delegator has enough room in their schedule to sit down to figure out a solution.

                                  All in all, it leads to a more efficient performance from the supervisor’s side.

                                  Subordinates Learn With the Flow

                                  With a degree of authority in their hands, the subordinates begin to feel useful and important. This feeling is the most important route to improvement.

                                  As your subordinates work independently, they not only improve their existing skills, but they also perform better. Since they are ones in control, they are the only ones accountable for everything they put on the table. This sense of responsibility provides the mandatory boost of motivation[3].

                                  Moreover, with the delegation of authority, the superiors and subordinates work on the same level to a certain extent. This allows the team members to learn from their supervisors while also polishing their knowledge practically.

                                  Leads to Better Relationships

                                  If you’re in charge of any team, work as a manager, or own an organization that you run, you already know why employee-employer relationships are vital.

                                  The same applies to every workgroup.

                                  So, even if you’re just one small group of 5 people in a multinational organization, the rules are coherent.

                                  By letting go of some responsibilities and giving individuals a chance to grow, you’re spreading positive work vibes. It all works in a cycle where you give the team some authority, they feel important and outperform, your trust in them strengthens, and you continue to delegate authority moving forward.

                                  5 Tips to Delegate Authority Effectively

                                  There is a whole mechanism that supports the delegation of authority.

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                                  If done right, this concept has numerous advantages. However, the key is that it’s done right.

                                  1. Choose the Best Person

                                  It’s not easy to trust another person to do something that you would have preferred to do yourself. That is why it is crucial that you only delegate a task to someone that you have full faith in.

                                  The easiest way to do this is to pre-asses every team member’s skills and qualities. In your mind, have a clear idea of who does what best. So, if there is one particular individual who excels at technology, you will know where to go every time there’s a job related to that skill.

                                  Once you’re satisfied with who is in control, more than half of the issue is resolved and things will most likely go smoothly.

                                  2. Offer Enough Autonomy

                                  One huge mistake you may make is to break down tasks too much.

                                  Let’s say your team of 10 people has to arrange an office party for 100 people. You have to manage the location, decorations, food, and furniture.

                                  You can either assign 4 individuals each of the 4 main jobs, or you can divide each component further into small tasks.

                                  In the case of the latter, tasks will overlap, things will get confusing, and none of your team members will have full control over their assigned task.

                                  This generally leads to a final result that is extremely non-coherent.

                                  3. Clear Communication

                                  A major aspect of delegation is the availability of clear instructions. From details of the task to deadlines, the person who has to fulfill the job should be clear on every single detail.

                                  Unless they know what’s expected from them, they will never be able to satisfy the delegator.

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                                  You can learn more about effective communication in this article.

                                  4. Avoid Unnecessary Pressure

                                  Yes, diamonds only form after the charcoal is put under immense pressure. But, honestly, you don’t need to implement that strategy in your work environment when implementing delegation of authority.

                                  Offer plenty of time and flexibility for each individual to be able to offer their best performance.

                                  Some people may work better under pressure. In that case, let the individual make that decision for themselves.

                                  5. Offer a Helping Hand

                                  Just because you’ve given someone else the task and power does not mean you have to back off completely.

                                  In fact, you should try to be a part of the process, but only from outside a defined boundary. This is something you’ll have to figure out practically as per the needs of your work environment. However, it will ultimately lead to you being a more respected leader:

                                  The important point is that if someone is facing an issue with the delegated task, do not refuse to help. Offer advice and support readily so that your team can learn from you. It will end up benefiting your organization.

                                  Final Thoughts

                                  Conclusively, it is safe to say that the delegation of authority is a very helpful technique to adopt in workplaces. It allows for a positive working environment as well as fruitful results.

                                  It’s something that all leaders should implement to achieve a time-efficient and productive workspace!

                                  More on the Importance of Delegation

                                  Featured photo credit: Dylan Gillis via unsplash.com

                                  Reference

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