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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

                                                Trending in Productivity

                                                1 The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain) 2 What to Do When Bored at Work (And Why You Feel Bored Actually) 3 6 Effective Ways to Enhance Your Problem Solving Skills 4 How to Concentrate and Focus Better to Boost Productivity 5 15 Productive Things to Do When Bored (So Time Is Not Wasted)

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                                                Last Updated on July 17, 2019

                                                The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

                                                The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

                                                What happens in our heads when we set goals?

                                                Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

                                                Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

                                                According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

                                                Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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                                                Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

                                                Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

                                                The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

                                                Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

                                                So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

                                                Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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                                                One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

                                                Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

                                                Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

                                                The Neurology of Ownership

                                                Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

                                                In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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                                                But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

                                                This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

                                                Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

                                                The Upshot for Goal-Setters

                                                So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

                                                On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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                                                It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

                                                On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

                                                But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

                                                More About Goals Setting

                                                Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

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