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What is Your Favorite Productivity Tool?

What is Your Favorite Productivity Tool?

Today, the Lifehack Expert team has shared their favorite productivity tools that increased their efficiency and made their life better. Look through their recommendations, try them out and comment with your experience and recommendations below.

 

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    Kirstin O’Donovan
    Rescue Time.

    This amazing tool tracks your activity on the computer and sends you a summary of how you have spent your time with the hours you did the past week. This is an excellent tool to identify your time thieves and improve your productivity because you are able to see where you are spending too much time and where you need to cut down. It also gives you a percentage of how productive you are. When we want to be more productive, the first step is improving the areas you are not so productive and this tool does all the hard work for you. A weekly summary is sent directly to your email.

     

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      Piotr Nabielec
      FreeMind.

      At work, it stores all my tasks in graphical and hierarchical form – projects with nested tasks, tasks delegated to others and allows prioritizing and summarizing very easily. Drag and drop, multiple colors, links and icons make things visual and quick to navigate through.

      With just one look I have a great summary of what I am doing, why I am doing it, what is critical and urgent, what is the best thing to do going forward, all delegated tasks and how much I already accomplished this week.

      I’ve been using it for years and it has proven its value!

       

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        Victoria Crawcour
        Wunderlist.

        It’s an online to do list that comes in both desktop and mobile versions, meaning I can access my lists at work, at home and on the go. As well as being much more efficient than paper lists that I more often than not misplace, you can invite other team members (making it great for collaborative working), assign tasks to them, include due dates on your tasks to stay on target, add subtasks and even important notes. You also receive notifications when each task is ticked off, meaning you never lose track of a projects progress! I don’t know how I’d cope without it; it could organise even the most scatter-brained among us!

         

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          Kavetha Sundaramoorthy
          10 minute rule.

          It’s super simple. Every morning, I set aside just 10 minutes to start an activity. Lets say I want to write a book, I will set a timer for just 10 minutes and focus intensely on writing until it rings.

          This technique is especially helpful for things you find hard or overwhelming to start. Like getting in shape. Just run in place for 10 minutes every morning until timer goes off.

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          The two benefits:

          One, you only have to do it for 10 minutes, so your mind is less likely to make up distractions and excuses.

          Two, if you do this without a break every day for a few weeks, JUST 10 minutes a day, you have established a new pathway in your brain. Now it’s a habit, something your brain will help you do without thinking or debating (like brushing teeth)

           

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            Trent Hand
            EMClient.

            I use it to organize both of my email accounts in one section, keep track of all my calendars, and generally function better at getting back to people. It’s like Outlook, but free.

             

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              Andy Small
              OneNote.

              I use OneNote in my professional and personal life to keep myself organised. It comes with the Office suite of tools but it’s often overshadowed by other productivity apps. While it has no OS X app it does have a web interface you can use in OS X.

               

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                  Robbie Williford
                  Buffer.

                  It is my favorite tool for my social media productivity. I use it to post on my social media outlets in a smart way. I can maximize my reach and really hack into my social media potential in a simple and effective way.

                   

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                    Melody M. Austin
                    HootSuite.

                    It really is the best for social media productivity. I can watch popular topics in the industry and plan post days in advance. It’s great when I have projects for managing client profiles and my own profiles as well.

                     

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                      Josh Medeski
                      Doit.im.

                      It is a lesser known GTD app. I use it to empty my brain, sort my projects, and set reminders for the furutre. It syncs across all of my devices, and the Doit.im team is constantly making the product better!

                       

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                        Ann Smarty
                        Firefox “pinned” tabes feature.

                        I save any task as a pinned tab and I won’t remove it until it’s done.

                         

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                          Rob Toledo
                          Trello.

                          It’s by far my favorite way to stay organized on projects for both time management as well as outlining the project as a whole. It’s free to use and is definitely worth a shot. You can share boards with friends, coworkers, clients and bosses. Definitely changed the way I organize my days.

                           

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                            Aaron Morton
                            Get it done.

                            I have started using ‘Get it done’ task app, a task management software that allows me to easily see what i need to do for each project.

                            I find myself more creative when I have multiple projects running simultaneously. In order to make this work I have to Be very organised. This app helps me do that.

                             

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                              Bojan Djordjevic
                              Byword.

                              It would definitively be Byword. As a writer I spend most of my productive time in the writing app. The less time I spend in a task manager thinking, and the more time I spend in the writing app working, the more productive I am.

                              Byword is helping me move away from all the distractions that could potentially distract me, and keeps me in the writing mode.

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                              Your favorite productivity tool should be the one that delivers you the most results. Pick one that lets you complete your primary task in the least possible amount of time.

                               

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                                Hannah Braime
                                Things.

                                Things by Cultured Code for Mac and iOS has changed the way I manage my life. It uses David Allen’s “Getting Things Done” system to manage task lists, projects and areas of responsibility. I can schedule tasks, differentiate between work-related and personal to dos, and assign different tags to tasks to provide context, such as ‘errands’ and ‘offline’. It’s a great way of getting everything out of my head and into the cloud, leaving me with the mental space to focus on more exciting things!

                                 

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                                  Jason Havner
                                  Feedly.

                                  I can minimize the time it takes to sift through useless news and get the stuff that matters to me most all in one spot. Its easy to see all my favorite new content daily without wasting time browsing through hundreds of articles.

                                   

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                                    Rob Boirun
                                    Bible+.

                                    I’m not a preachy type person and don’t want to tells others what they should do. But for me, I just started with a few preset reading plans on Proverbs and this has really made my focus on things much clearer and with purpose. It’s really set my daily planning with a meaning that I have not found before using my own agenda.

                                     

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                                      Maria Brilaki
                                      SelfControl

                                      My latest “no more distractions” discovery: The “SelfControl” app for my Mac. Once I enable it I can no longer access websites renowned for their distraction effect…like Facebook. SelfControl actually allows you to choose which websites you want to block, so anything can go in the list – from Gmail to CNN.

                                      I usually set it for 2 hours at a time. SelfControl has a countdown timer that is visible on my screen.

                                      The (expected) benefit? Less Distractions + Increased Productivity. I avoid mindless browsing that just happens out of habit.

                                      The (unexpected) benefit? Focus. Seeing the timer countdown makes me feel in “work mode”. For the next 2 hours, I’M WORKING!

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                                        Mike Bundrant
                                        BusyCal.

                                        I am a Mac user and was not satisfied with the calendar app that comes standard, so I began my search. I am an NLP trainer and life coach, so it is critical for me to keep appointments clear and straight as well as manage multiple other projects involved with marketing my business.

                                        BusyCal is a paid app, but well worth it. I color code my projects and deadlines right in the app. It syncs wherever I want to sync it. BusyCal also allows easy tracking of tasks, all in a simple, intuitive interface.

                                        After trying a dozen or more apps, including interfaces that allow the client to choose their own dates for appointments, I have opted for the easy and simplicity of BusyCal to keep my appointments and tasks organized.

                                         

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                                          Ohad Frankfurt
                                          Any.Do

                                          Without a doubt, the BEST to-do list app out there, but for me – its more than that. this app is my personal assistent, and helps me be more productive in my daily tasks, and because of its slick interface and fantastic user experience, it makes the process of geting things done – fun.

                                           

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                                              Robbie Williford
                                              Lift.

                                              My favorite tool is Lift, which is a habit-tracking app that allows me to have a daily checklist of things that I need to accomplish. It allows me to push myself in order to form the habits that are going to make me a better person. It holds me accountable every single day and honestly, I like that.

                                               

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                                                Zoe B
                                                STING.

                                                I use the STING method to increase my productivity. Research has shown that interruptions waste 28% of a person’s day and this simple method allows you to minimise interruptions by improving your ability to focus on one task at a time.

                                                The STING method entails the following steps:

                                                • Select one task
                                                • Time yourself
                                                • Ignore everything else
                                                • No breaks
                                                • Give yourself a reward

                                                 

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                                                Brian Lee

                                                Chief of Product Management at Lifehack

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                                                The Productivity Paradox: What Is It And How Can We Move Beyond It?

                                                The Productivity Paradox: What Is It And How Can We Move Beyond It?

                                                It’s a depressing adage we’ve all heard time and time again: An increase in technology does not necessarily translate to an increase in productivity.

                                                Put another way by Robert Solow, a Nobel laureate in economics,

                                                “You can see the computer age everywhere but in the productivity statistics.”

                                                In other words, just because our computers are getting faster, that doesn’t mean that that we will have an equivalent leap in productivity. In fact, the opposite may be true!

                                                New York Times writer Matt Richel wrote in an article for the paper back in 2008 that stated, “Statistical and anecdotal evidence mounts that the same technology tools that have led to improvements in productivity can be counterproductive if overused.”

                                                There’s a strange paradox when it comes to productivity. Rather than an exponential curve, our productivity will eventually reach a plateau, even with advances in technology.

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                                                So what does that mean for our personal levels of productivity? And what does this mean for our economy as a whole? Here’s what you should know about the productivity paradox, its causes, and what possible solutions we may have to combat it.

                                                What is the productivity paradox?

                                                There is a discrepancy between the investment in IT growth and the national level of productivity and productive output. The term “productivity paradox” became popularized after being used in the title of a 1993 paper by MIT’s Erik Brynjolfsson, a Professor of Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management, and the Director of the MIT Center for Digital Business.

                                                In his paper, Brynjolfsson argued that while there doesn’t seem to be a direct, measurable correlation between improvements in IT and improvements in output, this might be more of a reflection on how productive output is measured and tracked.[1]

                                                He wrote in his conclusion:

                                                “Intangibles such as better responsiveness to customers and increased coordination with suppliers do not always increase the amount or even intrinsic quality of output, but they do help make sure it arrives at the right time, at the right place, with the right attributes for each customer.

                                                Just as managers look beyond “productivity” for some of the benefits of IT, so must researchers be prepared to look beyond conventional productivity measurement techniques.”

                                                How do we measure productivity anyway?

                                                And this brings up a good point. How exactly is productivity measured?

                                                In the case of the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, productivity gain is measured as the percentage change in gross domestic product per hour of labor.

                                                But other publications such as US Today, argue that this is not the best way to track productivity, and instead use something called Total Factor Productivity (TFP). According to US Today, TFP “examines revenue per employee after subtracting productivity improvements that result from increases in capital assets, under the assumption that an investment in modern plants, equipment and technology automatically improves productivity.”[2]

                                                In other words, this method weighs productivity changes by how much improvement there is since the last time productivity stats were gathered.

                                                But if we can’t even agree on the best way to track productivity, then how can we know for certain if we’ve entered the productivity paradox?

                                                Possible causes of the productivity paradox

                                                Brynjolfsson argued that there are four probable causes for the paradox:

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                                                • Mis-measurement – The gains are real but our current measures miss them.
                                                • Redistribution – There are private gains, but they come at the expense of other firms and individuals, leaving little net gain.
                                                • Time lags – The gains take a long time to show up.
                                                • Mismanagement – There are no gains because of the unusual difficulties in managing IT or information itself.

                                                There seems to be some evidence to support the mis-measurement theory as shown above. Another promising candidate is the time lag, which is supported by the work of Paul David, an economist at Oxford University.

                                                According to an article in The Economist, his research has shown that productivity growth did not accelerate until 40 years after the introduction of electric power in the early 1880s.[3] This was partly because it took until 1920 for at least half of American industrial machinery to be powered by electricity.”

                                                Therefore, he argues, we won’t see major leaps in productivity until both the US and major global powers have all reached at least a 50% penetration rate for computer use. The US only hit that mark a decade ago, and many other countries are far behind that level of growth.

                                                The paradox and the recession

                                                The productivity paradox has another effect on the recession economy. According to Neil Irwin,[4]

                                                “Sky-high productivity has meant that business output has barely declined, making it less necessary to hire back laid-off workers…businesses are producing only 3 percent fewer goods and services than they were at the end of 2007, yet Americans are working nearly 10 percent fewer hours because of a mix of layoffs and cutbacks in the workweek.”

                                                This means that more and more companies are trying to do less with more, and that means squeezing two or three people’s worth of work from a single employee in some cases.

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                                                According to Irwin, “workers, frightened for their job security, squeezed more productivity out of every hour [in 2010].”

                                                Looking forward

                                                A recent article on Slate puts it all into perspective with one succinct observation:

                                                “Perhaps the Internet is just not as revolutionary as we think it is. Sure, people might derive endless pleasure from it—its tendency to improve people’s quality of life is undeniable. And sure, it might have revolutionized how we find, buy, and sell goods and services. But that still does not necessarily mean it is as transformative of an economy as, say, railroads were.”

                                                Still, Brynjolfsson argues that mismeasurement of productivity can really skew the results of people studying the paradox, perhaps more than any other factor.

                                                “Because you and I stopped buying CDs, the music industry has shrunk, according to revenues and GDP. But we’re not listening to less music. There’s more music consumed than before.

                                                On paper, the way GDP is calculated, the music industry is disappearing, but in reality it’s not disappearing. It is disappearing in revenue. It is not disappearing in terms of what you should care about, which is music.”

                                                Perhaps the paradox isn’t a death sentence for our productivity after all. Only time (and perhaps improved measuring techniques) will tell.

                                                Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

                                                Reference

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