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How to Stop Fiddling With Productivity Tools To Get More Done

How to Stop Fiddling With Productivity Tools To Get More Done

    It’s a constant battle for us geeks. We read the tech, productivity, and “guru” sites out on the web looking for the next best way to get things done.

    We purchase shiny new tools that promise us more, better, and faster in anything that we can conceive. The newest software vendors claim their tools are the missing piece of the puzzle and with them you can get more done with less effort. And if you don’t subscribe to a certain productivity methodology, you will be a lost soul in the see of knowledge work.

    Is this something that you think about or battle on a regular basis?

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    Why we fiddle and look for productivity tools

    I’ve been around the block when it comes to todo list apps, GTD apps, notetaking software, document management, and data management applications. I have tried countless pieces of sofware on Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, webOS, and even Linux that claim they will make me more productive and keep me “organized”.

    The market for these types of apps is huge and it isn’t necessarily because people need more apps that can organize them better than any other one. It comes down to the fact the many people don’t use the tools that they have. Instead they fiddle, get used by the tool, and then look for something else because the tool that just used them “wasn’t good enough”.

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    Let’s get down to brass tacks.

    You get you organized. You get you productive. A tool doesn’t “get” you productive or “make” you more productive. A tool doesn’t create productivity. A set of tools augments and enhances your productivity.

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    This is the reason why we productivity nuts obsess with tools and “fiddle” rather than work and be productive with what we have. We easily forget that it isn’t the tool that makes us productive. When we forget this and we start to try and “tweak” and “hack” the tool to fit our perceived needs. When it doesn’t fit these perceived needs we believe that the tool isn’t good enough and we start looking for something “better”.

    It’s an endless circle of productivity pr0n that gets you nowhere fast. But there are some things that you can do to get yourself back on track.

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    How to stop and get more done

    Here are seven things that you can practice to stop tweaking your tools and trying to find the best productivity tool in the world before you can get any work done.

    1. If you are an obsessive digital tool seeker, especially the GTD type, you may want to switch to paper for a while to go on a tool diet. The best way to describe this is to get “primal” with your system. Grab some crappy paper and a pen and get back to the basics of managing your life. Mike talks about the benefits of paper over at GTD Times.
    2. Take a productivity break. Stop reading articles on how to be more productive for a while. Don’t obsessively check productivity sites for a good week. Concentrate on your own system and make it work for you.
    3. Create a personal project for trying out a bunch of tools. Make the outcome of that project to pick a set of tools and stick to them for a year. I did this about 4 months ago and have stuck with OmniFocus (even during work at a Windows shop), Notesy, Outliner for iOS, text files, BBEdit, and a big ass Cahier Squared Moleskine Notebook.
    4. Do weekly reviews and purge stuff that you don’t need. “Cruft” is anything in your systems that just sits around, stagnating. This happens a lot with digital tools. Make sure to clean things up once a week. This will help you not have the perceived notion that your tools are failing you.
    5. If you subscribe to a certain productivity system like GTD, Master Your Workday Now!, ZTD, GSD, Getting Results the Agile Way, etc. take a step back and reread or revisit the literature about the system. Get back down to the basics and understand how the system can enhance your productivity. From this view, choosing a set of tools should be more clear.
    6. If you don’t know which tools to start with pick some from this list to check out. Don’t get too obsessive, kids:
      OmniFocus
      Toodledo
      Remember The Milk
      Evernote
      Google Docs
      OneNote
      plain text files
      SimpleNote
      Gmail
    7. Refine your system to make your tools work for you. Not the other way around. Paraphrased from Mr. Einstein:
      “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler.”

    Remember, the only reason you can’t find yourself productivity tools is because you aren’t making your current ones work for you. Don’t ever sacrifice your productivity at the whim of some tool that should be helping you. Always make sure that you are the one using the productivity tools, not the other way around.

    Anyone else struggling with keeping their tool selection on an even keel?

    More by this author

    CM Smith

    A technologist and writer who shares advice on personal productivity, creativity and how to use technology to get things done.

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    Published on September 17, 2020

    10 Best Monitors for Your PC Under $100

    10 Best Monitors for Your PC Under $100

    Are you looking for the best monitor under $100?

    Whether you want it for your home office, editing photography, or gaming, you don’t need to spend big bucks on a display screen because a low budget one will certainly do the trick.[1]

    We can almost hear you having second thoughts about the picture quality, but you don’t have to worry at all.[2]

    Our list of the best monitors under $100 will be more than enough to cover you. Just go through it now, and you’ll find yourself a bargain.

    Why You Should Trust Us

    Our list incorporates some of the best low-budget monitors available in the market. Their efficiency and distinctive traits enable them to stand out from others.[3] The hand-picked ones below are incredibly slick and have a high refresh rate, fast response time, high resolution, and built-in speakers.

    1. Acer Ultra Thin Frame Monitor

      Our first affordable computer screen is Acer’s 21.5-inch ultra-thin frame monitor. It has a refresh rate of 75Hz using an HDMI port and offers a full HD widescreen display.

      Its brightness can be maxed out at 250 nits. It has a slight tilt angle ranging from -5 to 15, as well as Radeon free sync technology.

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      Buy this computer monitor.

      2. Sceptre Ultra-Thin Display

        Sceptre is another company that provides excellent displays for your CPU. The screen size is a little smaller at 20 inches, but it’s made up for the slightly lower price than Acer. It also comes with two HDMI ports and built-in speakers and is wall mount ready.

        Buy this computer monitor.

        3. ViewSonic LED Monitor

        best monitor

          If you want the best monitor to set up in your office or around the house, ViewSonic’s LED screen is another good option to buy. The resolution is full HD and has a broader tilt ranging from -5 to 23 degrees.

          On top of that, the product comes with a 3-year warranty. Included in the bundle are a VGA cable, monitor, power cable, and audio cable.

          Buy this computer monitor.

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          4. ViewSonic Gaming Screen

            While we just covered a ViewSonic monitor, this one is specifically built for gaming in mind.

            Overall, this computer screen provides the same specs as the previously mentioned item. The key differences are that this one is slightly longer, comes with pre-set customizable visual modes, and offers a maxed out contrast, delivering a dynamic contrast ratio for sharp and crisp images. It also comes with a DVI cable.

            Buy this computer monitor.

            5. Asus Back Lit Monitor

            best monitor

              If you don’t mind spending a little more money, you can get an Asus Back Lit Monitor for your PC. A lot of the focus is on image quality, particularly having a strong contrast ratio and smart video technology for straight viewing. That feature also helps in reducing blue light since you’ll have more flexibility with the colors and brightness.

              Buy this computer monitor.

              6. Asus Back Lit Display

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                Another alternative to the previous Asus monitor is this one. It has a smaller contrast ratio, though it still delivers a smooth video display. You also have aspect controls, so you can adjust its display.

                Buy this computer monitor.

                7. Dell Ultrasharp Panel Monitor

                best monitor

                  If you’re looking for the basic features, look no further than Dell. There’s nothing particularly fancy about this panel screen, but it does the job well for any computer.

                  Its response time is 8ms, which is typical for a monitor. It can come in either silver or black.

                  Buy this computer monitor.

                  8. ViewSonic Frameless Monitor

                    If you liked ViewSonic’s LED monitor but wanted a little more features, we suggest looking at their frameless display. While it boasts similar specs as the brand’s other monitors, it offers color correction and dual built-in speakers, making it ideal for office and home use. It’s also 22 inches long.

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                    Buy this computer monitor.

                    9. Dell Mountable LED-Lit Monitor

                      For a dependable display with a good frame rate, Dell has a mountable, LED-lit monitor in the market. It measures 18.5 inches, has an adjustable arm, and has been through rigorous testing for long-lasting reliability. You can’t go wrong with this best monitor either.

                      Buy this computer monitor.

                      10. Sceptre Monitor

                        The final screen to cover comes from Sceptre. Compared to the ultra-thin version mentioned above, this one is available in 22 inches. Beyond that, it’s your standard display that provides decent tilting at -5 to 15 degrees, wall-mounted capabilities, 5ms response time, and built-in speakers.

                        Buy this computer monitor.

                        Final Thoughts

                        Finding one of the best monitors around can be tricky. If you’re looking for an affordable one that can last for years, consider picking a computer screen from this list.

                        Featured photo credit: Sebastian Bednarek via unsplash.com

                        Reference

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