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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

                                                 

                                                More by this author

                                                Brian Lee

                                                Chief of Product Management at Lifehack

                                                How to Set Ambitious Career Goals (With Examples) 7 Best Project Management Apps to Boost Productivity How to Answer Behavioral Based Interview Questions Smartly 100 Incredible Life Hacks That Make Life So Much Easier 10 Best New Products That People Don’t Know About

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                                                Last Updated on September 28, 2020

                                                How to Create an Action Plan and Achieve Your Personal Goals

                                                How to Create an Action Plan and Achieve Your Personal Goals

                                                There’s no denying that goals are necessary. After all, they give life meaning and purpose. However, goals don’t simply achieve themselves—you need to write an action plan to help you reach your goals.

                                                With an action plan, you’ll have a clear idea of how to get where you want to go, what it will take to get there, and how you’ll find the motivation to keep driving forward. Without creating a plan, things have a way of not working out as you waver and get distracted.

                                                With that in mind, here’s how you can set goals and action plans that will help you achieve any personal goal you’ve set.

                                                1. Determine Your “Why”

                                                Here’s a quick experiment for you to try right now: Reflect on the goals you’ve set before. Now, think about the goals you reached and those you didn’t. Hopefully, you’ll notice a common theme here.

                                                The goals you were successful in achieving had a purpose. Those goals you failed to accomplish did not. In other words, you knew why you put these goals in place, which motivated you to follow through.

                                                Simon Sinek, author of Find Your Why: A Practical Guide for Finding Purpose for You and Your Team, explains:

                                                “Once you understand your WHY, you’ll be able to clearly articulate what makes you feel fulfilled and to better understand what drives your behavior when you’re at your natural best. When you can do that, you’ll have a point of reference for everything you do going forward.”

                                                That, in turn, enables better decision-making and clearer choices.

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                                                I’ll share with you a recent example of this in my life. Earlier this year, I decided to make my health a bigger priority, specifically losing weight. I set this goal because it gave me more energy at work, improved my sleep, and helped me be a better father—I really didn’t care for all that wheezing every time I played with my kids.

                                                Those factors all gave me a long-term purpose, not a superficial short-term goal like wanting to look good for an event.

                                                Before you start creating an action plan, think about why you’re setting a new goal. Doing so will guide you forward on this journey and give you a North Star to point to when things get hard (and they inevitably will).

                                                2. Write Down Your Goal

                                                If you really want to know how to create an action plan for goals, it’s time to get your goals out of your head and onto a piece of paper. While you can also do this electronically through an app, research has found that you’re 42% more likely to achieve your goal if it’s written down[1].

                                                This is especially true for business owners. If they don’t schedule their time, it’ll be scheduled for them.[2]

                                                When you physically write down a goal, you’re accessing the left side of the brain, which is the literal, logical side. As a result, this communicates to your brain that this is something you seriously want to do.

                                                3. Set a SMART Goal

                                                A SMART goal pulls on a popular system in business management[3]. That’s because it ensures the goal you’ve set is both realistic and achievable. It can also be used as a reference to guide you through your action plan.

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                                                Use SMART goals to create a goal action plan.

                                                   

                                                  By establishing a SMART goal, you can begin to brainstorm the steps, tasks, and tools you’ll need to make your actions effective.

                                                  • Specific: You need to have specific ideas about what you want to accomplish. To get started, answer the “W” questions: who, what, where, when, and why.
                                                  • Measurable: To make sure you’re meeting the goal, establish tangible metrics to measure your progress. Identify how you’ll collect the data.
                                                  • Attainable: Think about the tools or skills needed to reach your goal. If you don’t possess them, figure out how you can attain them.
                                                  • Relevant: Why does the goal matter to you? Does it align with other goals? These types of questions can help you determine the goal’s true objective — and whether it’s worth pursuing.
                                                  • Time-bound: Whether it’s a daily, weekly, or monthly target, deadlines can motivate us to take action sooner than later.

                                                  Learn more about setting a SMRT goal here: How to Set SMART Goal to Make Lasting Changes in Life

                                                  4. Take One Step at a Time

                                                  Have you ever taken a road trip? You most likely had to use a map to navigate from Point A to Point B. The same idea can be applied to an action plan.

                                                  Like a map, your action plan needs to include step-by-step instructions on how you’ll reach your goal. In other words, these are mini goals that help you get where you need to go.

                                                  For example, if you wanted to lose weight, you’d consider smaller factors like calories consumed and burned, minutes exercised, number of steps walked, and quality of sleep. Each plays a role in weight loss.

                                                  This may seem like a lot of work upfront, but it makes your action plan seem less overwhelming and more manageable. Most importantly, it helps you determine the specific actions you need to take at each stage.

                                                  5. Order Your Tasks by Priority

                                                  With your action steps figured out, you’ll next want to review your list and place your tasks in the order that makes the most sense. This way, you’re kicking things off with the most important step to make the biggest impact, which will ultimately save time.

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                                                  For example, if you have a sedentary job and want to lose weight, the first step should be becoming even a little more active. From there, you can add more time to your workout plan.

                                                  The next step could be changing your diet, like having a salad before dinner to avoid overeating, or replacing soda with sparkling water.

                                                  Learn these tips to prioritize better: How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

                                                  6. Schedule Your Tasks

                                                  Setting a deadline for your goal is a must; it prevents you from delaying the start of your action plan. The key, however, is to be realistic. It’s highly unlikely, for example, that you’ll lose 20 pounds within two weeks. It’s even less likely that you’ll keep it off.

                                                  What’s more, you should also assign tasks a start and end date for each action step you’ve created, as well as a timeline for when you’ll complete specific tasks. Adding them to your schedule ensures that you stay focused on these tasks when they need to happen, not letting anything else distract you.

                                                  For example, if you schedule gym time, you won’t plan anything else during that time frame.

                                                  Beware the temptation to double-book yourself—some activities truly can be combined, like a run while talking to a friend, but some can’t. Don’t trick yourself into thinking you can both write and catch up on Netflix simultaneously.

                                                  While you can use a paper calendar or planner, an online calendar may be a better option. You can use it to set deadlines or reminders for when each step needs to be taken, and it can be shared with other people who need to be in the know (like your running buddy or your mentor).

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                                                  7. Stay on Track With Healthy Habits

                                                  Without healthy habits, it’s going to be even more challenging to reach your goal. You could hit the gym five days a week, but if you’re grabbing burgers for lunch every day, you’re undoing all your hard work.

                                                  Let’s say your goal is more career-oriented, like becoming a better public speaker. If you practice your speeches at Toastmasters meetings but avoid situations where you’ll need to be unrehearsed—like networking gatherings or community meetings—you’re not helping yourself.

                                                  You have to think about what will help transform you into the person you want to be, not just what’s easiest or most comfortable.

                                                  8. Check off Items as You Go

                                                  You may think you’ve spent a lot of time creating lists. Not only do they help make your goals a reality, but lists also keep your action plan organized, create urgency, and help track your progress. Because lists provide structure, they reduce anxiety.

                                                  There’s something else special about lists of tasks completed. When you cross off a task in your action plan, your brain releases dopamine[4]. This reward makes you feel good, and you’ll want to repeat this feeling.

                                                  If you crossed out on your calendar the days you went to the gym, you’d want to keep experiencing the satisfaction of each bold “X.” That means more motivation to go the gym consistently.

                                                  9. Review and Reset as Necessary

                                                  Achieving any personal goal is a process. Although it would be great if you could reach a goal overnight, it takes time. Along the way, you may experience setbacks. Instead of getting frustrated and giving up, schedule frequent reviews—daily, weekly, or monthly—to see how you’re progressing.

                                                  If you aren’t where you’d hoped to be, you may need to alter your action plan. Rework it so you’re able to reach the goal you’ve set.

                                                  The Bottom Line

                                                  When you want to learn how to set goals and action plans—whether you want to lose weight, learn a new skill, or make more money—you need to create a realistic plan to get you there. It will guide you in establishing realistic steps and time frames to achieve your goal. Best of all, it will keep you on track when you stumble, and we all do.

                                                  More on Goal Action Plans

                                                  Featured photo credit: Estée Janssens via unsplash.com

                                                  Reference

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