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25 Apps to Help You Hack Productivity & Willpower

25 Apps to Help You Hack Productivity & Willpower


    Here’s the scene:

    It’s the middle of a typical workday in busy technology startup. Everyone is busy working and scouring the web for important resources — everyone except me. Instead of busily writing emails or tending to administrative tasks, I’m completely off the Internet and focused 100% on brainstorming new projects.

    It’s freeing and absolutely joyful.

    Despite all the time I spend online, (it adds up to more than I want to admit) I’m constantly reminded of all the precious time a few online tools save me every day. They reduce the time I spend on things like convincing myself to work out, searching for important information, and drilling down my to-do list. Not only do I spend less time doing the menial and brain-numbing tasks we all hate, but I reapply that time to more enjoyable pursuits — like coming up with new ways to grow my business or brainstorming new book ideas.

    Both web and mobile apps have been incredibly useful in these three areas. Let me share my favorites in the hopes that you can free up some of your time and mind space, too.

    Hacking Willpower

    1. Freedom — The ultimate tool to disconnect (for Mac). There’s something about willpower that sometimes we just can’t beat. In times like these, apps like Freedom help you completely disconnect from the online, allowing you to double down on work. I use this app when I really need to get offline things done in peace.

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    2. SelfControl — This app is just like Freedom, except limited to a set list of websites you’d like to block (also for Mac). I use this to block social networking sites (and especially Quora!) when I truly need to get work down. This means I can still use the web to find important information, but I’m blocked from the sites that steal my time.

    3. Batch Reply for Gmail — Lots of tools will help you manage email, but this free tool is awesome for dealing with mass amounts of email at once. Just select which emails you want to reply to, and compose your reply to all of them at once. Many emails dealt with all at once — awesome. (This version is for Chrome.)

    4. FancyHands — The one tool that makes “virtual assistants” easy to grasp and problem-free. This US-based service makes reminders harder to ignore. For example, have a hard time calling your grandmother? Easy — have an assistant at FancyHands email you every Thursday with a reminder to give her a call, along with a picture of you two on Christmas. Try deleting that email.

    5. Gratitude Journal — This iPhone app (and many others that are just like it) focus on reminding you to jot down what you are grateful for. The best part? It will give you a pop-up reminder to jot down your daily list. I love not having to worry about remembering this. When the app asks, I input my list.

    6. Google Calendar — Getting to the gym is harder than you think. In my experience, it’s even harder when you have to figure out which day to go. We spend so much mental power bargaining with ourselves over “Today or tomorrow? Today is busy, I’ll just hit it tomorrow instead, right?” Instead of depleting batteries on those decisions and evaluations, skip it by putting exercise on your calendar at the beginning of each week. Try setting up repeating fitness appointments for an even easier set up. (I work out four times a week at 6:30AM. If the calendar says it, I do it. No mental power necessary.)

    7. GymPact If putting exercise in your calendar doesn’t work, try betting on it. This website allows you to bet your exercise habits against a friend’s. You’ll both put cash into an account, and you’ll be reimbursed a portion of the pool every time you work out. Using money to hack willpower has helped lots of gym-goers over the years. I dare you to try it.

    Downloading Your Memory

    8. Evernote — One of the best tools to store data, Evernote is also a great place to capture creativity on the go. Whether you are on the treadmill, at a meeting, or just in a hurry, use Evernote on your phone to make sure you jot down whatever idea or new thought crossed your mind. Take the stress off trying to remember it later!

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    9. Dropbox — By now, most everyone reading this article is using or has heard of Dropbox. There are a ton of ways to use Dropbox, but downloading your memory onto it is a great way to start. My favorite way to do this is by using the iPhone app or web app (when I’m on other computers) to find important information from my computer. Why store things in my mind when it’s on every tech device I have?

    10. Google Drive — The new Google Docs is useful for collaboration, but also to keep old projects archived away when you don’t want them in your face. Also, super ultra searchable. I recently found a free template for keeping a cash flow calendar — absolute gold and absolutely free.

    11. Brewster — This awesome iPhone app is one of the few that replaces a native iOS app for me. What it does is bring together all of your contacts into one place — albeit from your phone, from Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and more. The best part? It reminds you who you haven’t connected with in a while! Thanks, Brewster, for downloading my networking abilities.

    12. Pocket — Time is hard to come by, but awesome content is not. Everywhere I look, there is great content out on the web. Pocket lets me save it for reading or viewing later when I have some more time. One click and I no longer have to worry about remembering that link I saw on that blog that one time…

    13. Instapaper — What I love most about Instapaper isn’t just the fact that you can save links for saving later. What I love most is the fact that it lets you strip down each screen to an advertising-free reading experience. Nothing else to focus on but text — talk about a rest.

    14. Dropbox again — This time, for phone photos. Dropbox on your computer now allows you to create a folder for photos that automatically updates each time you plug your phone into the computer’s USB drive. No thinking, just saving memories — awesome.

    Automate Tasks

    15. TeuxDeux — A no-frills app that will help you keep track of your to-do list. My favorite thing about this app is that, if you don’t get something done today, it’ll automatically just slide over to tomorrow.

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    16. Things — A super simple but super strong to-do app. With Things, I set up plenty of recurring reminders and tasks — mostly so I never have to worry about keeping track of what to do when. Things reminds me to pay rent, pay staff, prune my client list, check up on Google Analytics, and much more.

    17. Manilla — Imagine being notified of when your bills are due. No more taking note of which days to pay electricity and which days to pay cable. Manilla will handle it for you, and let you know if you are about to be late.

    18. Meeteor — Networking takes a lot of effort, and I love Meeteor for automating the introduction process every single day. Each day that I log in, Meeteor matches me up with relevant contacts who are willing to connect. Networking without the hassle — awesome.

    19. FancyHands again — This time, to outsource important tasks. If you don’t have time to book a hotel or find a restaurant, let FancyHands take care of it for you. This also works for doing research, if that isn’t really your favorite activity.

    20. Asana — This awesome tool for managing team tasks will help you spend less time on managing and more time getting things done. Also, it’s free for smaller teams, and the interface is beautiful.

    21. Trello — For the more visual people out there, Trello allows you to move task cards around from list to list. It helps me view all of my projects and tasks on one dashboard according to their status. It also helps me visualize my cashflow! Highly recommend this free tool.

    20. IfThisThenThat — The best way to automate mundane and detailed tasks that don’t add much value. For example, why spend time saving or keep track of your photos on Facebook, Instagram or Foursquare? Let IFTTT take care of it for you, saving all your photos into a Dropbox folder automatically. How about checking the weather? It’s an annoying search each morning, so get notified if it’s going to rain in your area or if it will cold/hot, etc. Set your recipes and forget the rest.

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    21. Zapier — This is just like IFTTT but more oriented to business users. There are very powerful recipes like Paypal sale notifications, creating tasks in Trello, moving users around Aweber, and more. Check it out for automating your business life.

    22. Buffer — Managing social profiles can be a difficult thing to remember. Buffer is especially powerful if you sync it up with IFTTT, by the way. My favorite “recipe” is sending my Google Reader starred posts to Buffer for my Twitter followers to read. Sharing articles is awesome, and automating the actual sharing part is even better.

    23. Dragon Dictate — Sometimes, there’s no time to sit down and write. Speaking is just that much faster. With this app, you can talk into your phone and use it for writing long documents or even email. Imagine how quickly you can get things done if you don’t have to type it out!? Genius.

    24. UsingMiles — This awesome website lets you manage your entire database on awards and miles in one dashboard. You can also search for flights using those very miles! I don’t know about you, but, if there’s an app that can help me remember what I’ve earned and where, I’m down to use it — especially if it helps me travel for free!

    25. F.lux — Meddling with the computer’s brightness is annoying but necessary. We spend a lot of time staring at the screen, and this app focuses on making sure the brightness is at the best possible brightness for your eyes to feel awesome for longer. Don’t you love it when apps automate making your life better? (I do.)

    I hope this list helps you get your willpower, tasks, and memory all in order using the latest technology. These are the tools I use to keep my brainpower free of the mundane and more focused on what really matters to me and my business.

    With that taken care of…what will you spend your extra time on?

    (Photo credit: Robotic Arms Building “Done” via Shutterstock)

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    Published on November 9, 2018

    How to Improve Your Computer Skills to Get Ahead in Your Career

    How to Improve Your Computer Skills to Get Ahead in Your Career

    Technology has taken the business world by storm. People and businesses are progressively reliant on technology world these days. As a result, the people with impressive knowledge and experience with a computer are in demand.

    Considering this growing market trend, if you too wish to bag a profitable job, this article is apt for you. Here, we will dig deeper into the business and technology world to look into what are the best computer skills one should invest in and what resources to get help from.

    So, are you ready? Here we begin.

    6 Most-In Demand Computer Skills This Year (and Beyond)

    When talking about computer skills, following are the 6 computer skills that can fill your mailbox with endless job opportunities (besides, having an English and Hindi typing speed of 40+ WPM):-

    1. Spreadsheets and Databases

    Considering the treasure trove of data companies are handling these days, Spreadsheet and Database management skill tops the list. It is considered the most wanted job skill in the market, with a salary of around $53,129/yr for an entry-level position. However, the spreadsheet skill does not confine to auditing data from cells.

    To get hired based on this computer skill, you need to become a Spreadsheet ninja. From storing data to organizing them, applying complex mathematics formulas, and creating complex macros, you need to be an expert at all.

    In other words, you need to have an expertise at working with:

    • Microsoft Excel
    • Microsoft Access
    • Statistics
    • Data Analytics
    • Adobe Campaign
    • Quickbooks
    • XML Database management system
    • Filemaker Pro
    • MATLAB
    • Hive
    • FORTRAN
    • RDBMS (Relational Database Management System)
    • SAS

    2. Social Media, Email, and Blogging

    Though people are socially active, not everyone knows how to use the social media tools on the professional front. In such a scenario, having an expertise at writing engaging yet professional emails, writing blogs, and managing social media activities is a ticket to entry in reputed organizations.

    Some of the skills related to social media, email and blogging that will have a leg up in the hiring process are:

    • Content Management System (CMS)
    • Google Analytics
    • Cascading Style Sheets (CSS)
    • Email Marketing
    • Web Page Design
    • WordPress
    • Digital Media
    • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
    • Campaign Management Software

    3. Graphic Design and Word Processing

    A solid grasp of skills to present the gained information in the much readable form is another market need. When considering this computer skill category, you need to enhance your skills at:

    • Adobe Photoshop
    • Adobe InDesign
    • Adobe Illustrator
    • AutoCAD
    • CorelDRAW
    • Microsoft Visual Studio
    • Maya
    • Microsoft Word
    • Microsoft Publisher
    • Operating Digital Cameras

    4. Software and Hardware Design and Development

    The Software and Hardware development, in simpler language, means designing, implementing, and testing the computer software/hardware applications. It is the most profitable computer skill, with a different job opening, including Software Architect, Software Analyst, Software programmer, Hardware configuration, etc.

    To be capable of developing and testing the software and hardware, you need to peruse your users’ needs and build an application that hits their pain points. You need to work with different web and mobile app coding languages for gaining the attention of your audience, some of which are:

    • HTML
    • C/C++
    • Java
    • Python
    • XML
    • UI/UX
    • LINUX
    • CISC and RISC architecture
    • Embedded Processor Hardware Design
    • Memory Management
    • PCB Layout
    • SQL

    5. IT Troubleshooting

    Working on computers is one thing and having a knack of looking into the associated issues and resolving them in real-time is another. There are various employees and graduates who work with computer systems in their daily lives, but get confused when it comes to dealing with frozen programs and performing routine maintenance.

    So, if you are familiar with the basic anatomy of computers and machines and know the tricks to perform such tasks to streamline the working process, enter the IT support arena. The prime IT troubleshooting skills one needs to work upon are:

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    • Backup management
    • Diagnostics
    • End User support
    • Client-Server management
    • Installation and configuration
    • Issue tracking system (ITS)
    • System administration
    • Tech support

    6. Enterprise Systems

    Many Enterprises have their own enterprise solutions like PeopleSoft for managing their data and operations.

    Becoming a master at using the enterprise solutions mentioned in their ‘Requirements’ area can also lessen the barrier to get a job.

    The Roadmap to Excel Your Computer Skills

    Now that you know the 6 most popular computer skills in the market, the first decision, you need to take is which computer skill you want to work upon. All the skills are equally considerable for making a career ahead. So, choose one as per your interest.

    Once done, look forward to the following resources for boosting your computer skills and getting a reputed, handsome job.

    Depending on the computer skill you opt, here are the online courses you can turn to for elevating your career opportunities:

    1. Become a Spreadsheet and Database Ninja

    a. Microsoft Excel Training Online Course – Basic & Advanced

    Whether you are a beginner, intermediate or expert at working with spreadsheets, this online course has something new for everyone to become excel efficient users.

    Divided into 48 interesting lessons, the course empowers you to learn the technique of using mathematical, statistical, logical and text functions, sorting and filtering the data, creating Pivot Tables, building macros, finding a value with VLOOKUp, and much more.

    b. Excel- Online Courses, Classes, Training, Tutorials on Lynda

    This is another impressive course to unlock the power of Excel. Designed for people from all walks of life and familiarity with Excel tools. This course helps you gain in-depth knowledge from the experts about this data-analyzing tool and make the magic in spreadsheet creation and management process.

    c. SQL & Database Design A-Z™: Learn MS SQL Server + PostgreSQL

    Build a successful career in the data analytics world with this online course.

    Revolving around the two top databases, MS SQL and PostgreSQL, this course will give you a comprehensive knowledge of the working of the databases and understanding of all the related elements, including how to create, update, organize, and safeguard the data.

    2. Rule the Social Media World

    a. Free Social Media Course by HubSpot

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    Introduced by the top experienced inbound professors from Hubspot, here you will get a comprehensive knowledge of Social media marketing.

    From understanding how to build relationships on different social media platforms to creating a perfect strategy to engage them, leveraging the benefits of social advertising, and analyzing your social media ROI, this course will bring out the best out of you.

    b. Write Professional Emails in English by Coursera

    This online course will be the right weapon to look into the differences and similarities between different email styles, improve your English writing skills, write effective subject lines, maintain the formality tone in emails, and more to make a powerful impact on the receivers with your email.

    c. Ninja Writing: The Four Levels of Writing Mastery

    Founded by Udemy, this online course will excel your skills to build a masterpiece everytime you write.

    Here, you will get the guidance from the editors of the top newspapers and websites, and understand what kind of words and tone to use for leaving a spellbinding impact on the readers.

    3. Launch Your Own Software or Hardware Equipment

    a. Hardware and Software Courses by Coursera

    From Big Data to IoT, Sensor Circuit Design, Embedded Software and Hardware Architecture, and Motor Control Circuit, this course will give you a glimpse of all the hardware devices, equipment, and programming languages to build wonders.

    b. Free Software and Web Development Certifications Online by Alison

    Become the software developer market demands with Alison’s Java, C#, Python, R, PHP, or MySQL database course. From backend to frontend development and software testing.

    The course helps you to learn how to design, develop and test software and working in a team while contributing to the team success.

    c. Free Online Software Development and MOOCs Course by Class Central

    The Class Central online course will make you a master of software development. Here, you will learn the basic concepts of development like Agile, Design Patterns, and Version Control with Git, along with gaining experience of working with the top programming languages.

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    4. Live and Breathe Creativity

    a. Udemy: Introduction to Graphic Design

    It is a top-rated program for the new learners and designers to explore the Graphic Design world.

    From the history of communication to the design principles, the course will help the students to learn everything specifically and implement in the real world.

    b. Canva Design School

    From a beginner to advanced level, this course will provide you with an elaborated and comprehensive knowledge of graphic design. In the form of 4 modules, this course will help the interested graphic designers to try out their skills at Graphics, ranging from fonts to colors, backgrounds, images, shapes, and layouts.

    c. Microsoft Word – Basic & Advanced

    62 personalized lessons, premium video tutorials, and unlimited tests and quizzes – this certified course has everything that will make your entry to the business world easier.

    d. Microsoft Office: Word, Excel and Access Productivity Bundle

    The course will make you productive in Word, Excel, and Access through video lectures, articles, and various other supplemental resources.

    Besides, it will offer you exclusive tips and tricks to enhance your skills at using Microsoft office.

    5. Raise Your Reflexes to IT Troubleshooting

    a. IT Troubleshooting Skill Training by Udemy

    IT Troubleshooting Skill Training will upgrade your logical concepts over technical components to find and repair faults.

    It will provide you with a methodological approach to learn the basics of troubleshooting, practice them via exercises and drills, and enhance your IT troubleshooting intelligence.

    b. IT Help Desk Online Course on Lynda

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    The Lynda’s IT troubleshooting online course will train you how to respond to the issues related to Windows 10, Office 365, JIRA software, and more, from a local as well as a remote location.

    Mobile Apps and Websites to Enhance Computer Skills

    The aforementioned online courses will undoubtedly train you for a successful career ahead. But, in case you want a long-term support, turn towards the following websites and mobile apps:

    • Duolingo – Duolingo app will improve your spoken and written communication skills in different languages. With the magic of gamification added to the study, the app will make learning a fun and addictive task.
    • Hemingway – Hemingway app defines the length, complexity, and common errors associated with the sentences. In this way, it helps you to write effectively and go ahead in the career.
    • Udemy – The Udemy, with its 2000+ courses, is a great platform to master new skills, advance your career and explore the newer technologies and programming languages. Enrol a course as per your budget and make a brighter future.
    • eDX – eDX is yet another commendable platform you can look forward to. The platform offers you the best of the tutorials prepared by the business professionals and technology experts, ensuring a great boost in your computer skills.
    • Excel Easy – Excel Easy, as the name depicts, will make working with Excel easier for you via their detailed tutorials and 300+ real-life examples.
    • GCF LearnFree.org – It is a one-stop platform for accelerating your future in the computer world. From graphic design to Microsoft Office, resume writing, enhancing adaptability, and much more, the top experts will guide you with everything on this platform.
    • QuarkXPress – The QuarkXPress will aid you to add soul to your design with its unparalleled collection of font style, size, and typography. The best part is that it is avails all the options in different languages, including English, Spanish, German, French, and Italian to name a few.

    Bonus: Tips to Accelerate Your Approach For a Better Career Ahead

    Though these resources will make you stand out from the crowd and get hired at once, you need to focus on various other things, such as:

    1. Practice, Practice, Practice

    It is common to forget what we learn. To ensure that you do not miss any opportunity just because you forgot, keep practising.

    Make it your routine. Polish your computer skills and you will surely end up getting an offer letter from a recognized firm.

    2. Work on Your Efficiency

    Remembering what you learned is not enough; practice to enhance those skills to do better.

    For example, if you take around 50 minutes to create a design, target for 40 minutes.

    3. Look for Shortcuts

    Smart work rules over hard work more often. So, look forward to learning shortcuts to do any task. This will increase your chances to crack an interview and get selected.

    4. Apply for an Internship

    Last but not the least, apply for an internship to see what’s trending in the market and how much you are ready for it. While doing an internship, pay attention to your weak points and work on them. This will ensure a success when you apply for your dream job.

    By the late, it’s never too late to be an intern or grab whatever opportunity to learn something new! Here’s how:

    How to Start Over and Reboot Your Life When It Seems Too Late

    The Bottom Line

    Seeing the current market scenario, it is evident that having computer skills is a boon for a better career ahead.

    So, rather than struggling with thousands of other things and trying to crack interviews, focus on the computer skills mentioned in this article. Utilize the resources and experts’ tips shared and look forward to having a successful and prosperous future.

    Featured photo credit: Glenn Carstens-Peters via unsplash.com

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