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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

                                                100 Incredible Life Hacks That Make Life So Much Easier 10 Best New Products That People Don’t Know About Book Summary: The Power of Habit in 2 Minutes 1 Minute Book Summary: How To Make People Like You in 90 Seconds or Less 2 Minutes Book Summary: Thinking Fast and Slow

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                                                Published on January 16, 2019

                                                How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work

                                                How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work

                                                We’re all busy, but sometimes we go through periods where the work piles up and it seems like it might never end.

                                                You might have such a heavy workload that it feels too intimidating to even start.

                                                You may have said yes to some or too many projects, and now you’re afraid you won’t be able to deliver.

                                                That’s when you need to take a step back, take a deep breath, and start looking at what’s working and what’s not working.

                                                Here’re 13 strategies you can use to get out from under your overwhelming workload:

                                                1. Acknowledge You Can’t Do It All

                                                Many of us have a tendency to think we can do more than we actually can. We take on more and more projects and responsibility and wear numerous hats.

                                                We all have the opportunity to have and take on more work than we can reasonably expect to get done. Unfortunately, our workload is not static. Even now, while you are reading this article, I’m guessing that your inbox is filling up with fresh new tasks.

                                                To make real, effective progress, you have to have both the courage and resourcefulness to say, “This is not working”. Acknowledge that you can’t do it all and look for better solutions.

                                                At any given time in your life, there are likely many things that aren’t going according to plan. You have to be willing to be honest with yourself and those around you about what’s not working for you, both personally and professionally.

                                                The more you exercise your ability to tell the truth about what’s working and what’s not working, the faster you’ll make progress.

                                                2. Focus on Your Unique Strengths

                                                Whether you’re an entrepreneur, a leader or working as part of a team, every individual has unique strengths they can bring to the table.

                                                The challenge is that many people end up doing things that they’re simply not very good at.

                                                In the pursuit of reaching your goals or delivering a project, people end up doing everything themselves or taking on things that don’t play to their unique strengths. This can result in frustration, overwhelm and overwork.

                                                It can mean projects taking a lot longer to complete because of knowledge gaps, or simply not utilizing the unique strengths of other people you work with.

                                                It is often not about how to complete this project more effectively but who can help deliver this project.

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                                                So, what are your unique strengths that will ensure your workload is delivered more effectively? Here’re some questions to help you reflect:

                                                • Are you a great strategist?
                                                • Are you an effective planner?
                                                • Is Project Management your strength?
                                                • Is communication and bringing people together your strength?
                                                • Are you the ideas person?
                                                • Is Implementation your strength?

                                                Think about how you can bring the biggest value to your work and the projects you undertake.

                                                3. Use the Strengths of Your Team

                                                One of the simplest ways to manage your workload effectively is to free up your time so you bring your highest level of energy, focus and strengths to each project.

                                                Delegation or better teamwork is the solution.

                                                Everyone has unique strengths. It’s essential to think teamwork rather than working in isolation to ensure projects can be completed effectively. Besides, every time you give away a task or project that doesn’t play to your unique strengths, you open up an opportunity to do something you’re more talented at. This will empower both yourself and those around you.

                                                Rather than taking on all the responsibilities yourself, look at who you can work with to deliver the best results possible.

                                                4. Take Time for Planning

                                                “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe”. – Abraham Lincoln

                                                One hour of effective planning could save hours of time. Rather than just rushing in and getting started on projects, take the time to map everything in.

                                                You can take the time to think about:

                                                • What’s the purpose of the project?
                                                • How Important is it?
                                                • When does it need to be delivered by?
                                                • What is the best result and worst result for this project?
                                                • What are the KPIs?
                                                • What does the project plan and key milestones look like?
                                                • Who is working on this project?
                                                • What is everyone’s responsibilities?
                                                • What tolerances can I add in?
                                                • What are the review stages?
                                                • What are the challenges we may face and the solutions for these challenges?

                                                Having absolute clarity on the project, the project deliverables and the result you want can save a lot of time. It also gets you clear on the priorities and timelines, so you can block out the required amount of time to focus and concentrate.

                                                5. Focus on Priorities

                                                Not everything is a priority, although it can often feel, in the moment, that it is.

                                                Whatever you’re working on, there is always the Most Urgent, Important or Most Valuable projects or tasks.

                                                One tool you can use to maximize your productivity and focus on your biggest priorities is to use the Eisenhower Matrix. This strategic tool for taking action on the things that matter most is simple. You separate your actions based on four possibilities:

                                                1. Urgent and important (tasks you will do immediately).
                                                2. Important, but not urgent (tasks you will schedule to do later).
                                                3. Urgent, but not important (tasks you will delegate to someone else).
                                                4. Neither urgent nor important (tasks that you will eliminate).

                                                James Clear has a great description on how to use the Eisenhower Matrix: How to be More Productive By Using the Eisenhower Box

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                                                  The method I use with my coaching clients is to ask them to lay out their Top Five priorities for the day. Then to start with the most important priority first. At the end of the day, you review performance against these priorities.

                                                  If you didn’t get everything accomplished, start the next day with your number one priority.

                                                  If you are given additional task/projects during the day, then you will need to gauge their importance V the other priorities.

                                                  6. Take Time Out

                                                  To stay on top of a heavy workload, it’s important to take time out to rest and recuperate.

                                                  If your energy levels are high and your mind and body is refreshed and alert, you are in more of a peak state to handle a heavy workload.

                                                  Take time out of your day to go for a walk or get some exercise in. Leave early when possible and spend time with people who give you a lot of energy.

                                                  In the background, it’s essential to get a good night’s sleep and eat healthily to sharpen the mind.

                                                  Take a look at this article learn about The Importance of Scheduling Downtime.

                                                  7. Maintain a Healthy Work-Life Balance

                                                  Maintaining a healthy work-life balance can be tough. The balance we all crave is very different from one another.

                                                  I’ve written before about 13 Work Life Balance Tips for a Happy and Productive Life. Working longer and harder doesn’t mean achieving more, especially if you have no time to spend with the people that matter most. The quality of who you are as a person, the relationships you have, the time you spend in work, deciding on what matters most is completely within your control.

                                                  Work-life balance is about finding peace within yourself to be fully present, wherever you are, whether that be in the office or at home, right now. It’s about choosing what matters most and creating your own balanced life.

                                                  If you feel there is not enough balance, then it may be time to make a change.

                                                  8. Stop Multitasking

                                                  Multi-tasking is a myth. Your brain simply can’t work effectively by doing more than one thing at a time—at least more than one thing that requires focused attention.

                                                  So get your list of priorities (see earlier point), do the most important thing first, then move to the next item and work down your list.

                                                  When you split your focus over a multitude of different areas, you can’t consistently deliver a high performance. You won’t be fully present on the one task or project at hand.

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                                                  If you allocate blocked time and create firm boundaries for specific activities and commitments, you won’t feel so overwhelmed or overworked with everything you have to do.

                                                  9. Work in Blocks of Time

                                                  To keep your energy up to produce your best results it’s essential to take regular breaks.

                                                  I use the 60-60-30 method myself and teach it to my coaching clients.

                                                  Work on a project for a sustained period of 50 minutes.

                                                  Then take a 10-minute break. This could be taking a walk, having a healthy snack or just having a conversation with someone.

                                                  Then continue to work on the project for a further 50 minutes.

                                                  Then take another 10-minute break.

                                                  Then take a complete 30-minute break to unplug from the work. This could be time for a proper lunch, a quick bit of exercise, reading or having a walk.

                                                  By simply taking some time out, your energy levels stay up, the quality of your work improves and you reduce the risk of becoming burned out.

                                                  10. Get Rid of Distractions

                                                  Make an estimation on how many times you are distracted during an average working day. Now take that number and multiply it by 25. According to Gloria Mark in her study on The Cost of Interrupted Work, it takes us an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to return to the original task after interruption.[1]

                                                  “Our research has shown that attention distraction can lead to higher stress, a bad mood and lower productivity.”

                                                  Distractions don’t just take up your time during the distraction, they can derail your mental progress and focus for almost 25 minutes. So, if you are distracted 5 times per day, you could be losing almost 2 hours every day of productive work and almost 10 hours every week.

                                                  If you have an important project to work on, find a space where you won’t be distracted, or try doing this.

                                                  11. Commit Focused Time to Smaller Tasks

                                                  You know sometimes, you need to simply tackle these tasks and take action on them. But there’s always something more pressing.

                                                  Small tasks can often get in the way of your most important projects. They sit there on your daily To Do list but are often forgotten about because of more important priorities or because they hold no interest for you. But they take up mental energy. They clutter your mind.

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                                                  Commit to spending a specific period of time completing all the small tasks you have on your To Do list. It will give you peace of mind and the space to focus more on your bigger priorities.

                                                  12. Take a Time Audit

                                                  Do you know exactly where your time is going each day? Are you spending too long on certain projects and tasks to the detriment of bigger opportunities?

                                                  Spend a bit of time to analyze where you are spending your time. This insight will amaze you and give you the clarity to start adjusting where you focus your time and on what projects.

                                                  You can start by taking a piece of paper and creating three columns:

                                                  Column A is Priority Work. Column B is Good Work. Column C is low value work or stuff.

                                                  Each day, write down the project or task and the time spent on each. Allocate that time to one of the columns.

                                                  At the end of the week, record the total time spent in each column.

                                                  If you are spending far too much time on certain types of work, look to change things so your focused time is in Column B and C.

                                                  13. Protect Your Confidence

                                                  It is essential to protect our confidence to ensure we don’t get overwhelmed, stressed and lose belief.

                                                  When you have confidence as a daily resource, you are in a better position to problem solve, learn quicker, respond to anything, adjust to anything, and achieve your biggest opportunities.

                                                  Confidence gives you the ability to transform fear into focused and relaxed thinking, communication, and action. This is key to put your mind into a productive state.

                                                  When confidence is high, you can clearly see the possibilities at hand and create strategies to take advantage of them, or to solve the challenges you face each day.

                                                  Final Words

                                                  A heavy workload can be tough to deal with and can cause stress, burnout and ongoing frustration.

                                                  The key is to tackle it head on, rather than let it go on and compound the long-term effects. Hopefully, you can take action on at least one of these tips.

                                                  If it gets too much, and negatively affects your physical and mental health, it may be time to talk to someone. Instead of dealing with it alone and staying unhappier, resentful and getting to a point where you simply can’t cope, you have to make a change for your own sanity.

                                                  Featured photo credit: Hannah Wei via unsplash.com

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