Tech Tools and Software: What Motivates Change

Tech Tools and Software: What Motivates Change

    Technology has clearly changed how we work. Mobile devices, for example, have allowed for a more flexible work environment, making it easier to work from anywhere on almost any device.

    Whatever changes we adopt, the bottom line remains the same; we want to get our jobs done and done well. And when the technology we’re accustomed to using works, we don’t want to take the time to learn something new. Email is the perfect example. The tech community continues to argue whether email is a dying form of online communication. While tools such as IM have helped us communicate faster, we still use email as our core content management system because we have not yet found another platform that’s better.


    My previous post asked whether our digital work habits were helping or hindering productivity. Today, the question is what if something could make doing our jobs significantly better than the status quo? Would we change?

    What merits technological change?

    I may be going out on a limb, but I think a new solution needs to be at least 10 times better than the current solution if a company or individual is going to make the switch. But what makes something at least 10 times better? Think of it this way. How much time have I spent on learning? How much does it change my work habits? Are there are tangible benefits? Going back to the email example and how IM has replaced email in places; IM is simple to use, easy to understand, and it provides an immediate response where email could take days for a reply. This is what makes IM at least 10 times better than email in certain instances.

    The experience vs. features phenomenon

    One of the best examples of this phenomenon I’ve seen is one software company’s testing of the next version of its flagship software. The company invested heavily in a simplified user experience, designed to enable users to more easily discover the features they needed as well as expose them to other tools that might be helpful. The company’s development teams took the existing features from the previous product and put them into this new user interface. They then got a wide variety of users – from new to very experienced – to use the new product. The most remarkable comments came from experienced users, who could not believe how much had been added to the new version, even though the only difference was a new user experience.


    Tipping point?

    Every company or individual can tell you exactly when they decided to switch their processes to something better. For an individual, it might be the realization of how much time is being wasted in a particular effort. For companies, it tends to be something that impacts the bottom line. These decisions often have additional, unforeseen benefits as well.

    One of my favorite examples comes from a major accounting firm. Their “tipping point” was in their financials. They realized they were spending 25 percent more in software costs than needed. A change was in order, and for them it was standardizing their tools.

    The results? They not only were able to reduce costs, but they also reduced software management time by 98 percent, improved productivity and collaboration among their employees, and kept ahead of the competition.


    Today’s expectations

    With new tools and software, it used to be that “powerful” meant complicated. If you were prepared to take a class, read a book and invest significant time in learning, then that software or tool was more credible and capable of getting the job done. However, in the past few years, the web, mobile apps and the consumerization of software have all contributed to creating a new paradigm; the easier and more intuitive the tool, the better and more likely it is adopted.

    Yet we all suffer from some level of risk aversion and fall to “the old way of working.” I am guilty of this sometimes, and I suspect most people are as well. We know what it takes to get things done today, however old-fashioned. If we sit back and critically evaluate from a technological perspective how we work as individuals, teams and as a company, the red flags will emerge and change will follow.


    Has your company experienced a technological “tipping point” recently? Or have you personally switched to something you consider at least 10 times better? Please share in the comments.


    (Photo credit: hand holding the world and email via Shutterstock)

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    11 Brain Training Apps to Train Your Mind and Improve Memory

    11 Brain Training Apps to Train Your Mind and Improve Memory

    Whether at work or at school, people these days are under tremendous pressure to perform, perform and perform! Stress and pressure can have adverse affects on the well-being of a person, and need to be controlled.

    Now, this doesn’t mean you make a dash to your nearest therapist. There are a number of wonderful and smart apps that you can use on your phone. These brain training apps have been scientifically designed to target specific areas of the human mind and control harmful emotions such as anxiety, as well as to improve memory and sharpness of the brain.

    Here are 11 iPhone apps that you will not only enjoy but also find useful in keeping your mental health balanced at all times.

    1. Lumosity

    This app consists of games that focus on improving the user’s memory, problem-solving capability, attention span, and thinking. There are three games in each session, and they challenge the brain by changing every time. The user has to complete the games while playing against a clock.

    Free of trial. $15 per month for the full version.


    Luminosity Mind training apps-Lifehack

      2. Fit Brains Trainer

      This brain training app has 10 sets of games that work on different areas of the brain and improve memory as well as concentration. A user is required to finish a particular task from each category on a daily basis and the app tracks the progress by a color coded graph.


      Fit Brains Trainer Mind training apps-Lifehack

        3. CogniFit Brain Fitness

        Developed with the help of neuroscientists, this fun app improves a person’s cognitive abilities, which includes memory and concentration. The progress made by the user over a period of time can be tracked. Users can also play challenge rounds with their friends. The app also modifies the difficulty level to suit the profile of the user and provide recommendations based on the results. Spending 20–30 minutes a few times every week can give measurable improvement in the performance of a user.

        First four games free, then $13 a month.

        cognifit-Mind Training Apps-Lifehack

          4. Brain Fitness Pro

          The makers of this app claim that it can improve the IQ of a user, and improve intelligence and memory. The app is fun and is user friendly, and 30 minutes a day can fetch you results in less than three weeks.


          Buy for $3.99.

          5. Happify

          If nothing else makes you happy in life, this app will. Well, this is what the developers claim at least. This app comes loaded with lots of quizzes, polls and gratitude journals, which work on the fundamentals of positive psychology. The app also helps to control stress and emotions to make you feel better.

          Free to use.

          Happify-Mind Training Apps-Lifehack

            6. Clockwork Brain

            You will like the little gold robot that comes in every time to explain the next game you are going to play. While the games are not much different to those offered in apps such as Luminosity, the look and feel reminds me of a workshop from old times.



            Clockwork Trsin-Mind Training Apps-Lifehack

              7. ReliefLink

              Initially created as an app for suicide prevention, it has found its use as a great app for tracking the mood of the user by taking measure of all things relevant to the user’s mental health. In case the user experiences high emotional stress, the app has a coping mechanism that includes voice-recorded mindfulness, exercises and music for relaxation. There is also a map that informs the user of the nearest therapist and medical facilities for mental health treatment.

              Relief Link - Mind Training Apps - Lifehack

                8. Eidetic

                Eidetic is a memory enhancement app and uses a ‘spaced repetition’ technique to help users memorize information such as important phone numbers, words, credit card details or passwords. It also notifies you when it’s time to take a test to see what you remember, so that you retain information in your long-term memory.

                Eidetic - Mind Training Apps - Lifehack

                  9. Braingle

                  Braingle helps to maintain the sharpness of the brain and improve the reasoning ability of a person through riddles and optical illusions. It is different from other brain training apps that employ memory and reaction based tests. You can also compete with your friends and family members in figuring out the fun riddles.


                  Briangle- Mind Training Apps-LIfehack

                    10. Not The Hole Story

                    If you have a penchant for solving hard riddles, then this app is a must-have for you. Filled with exclusive riddles along with a simple-to-use interface, the app gives you riddles that you have to solve through a book. You will be given hints along the way, and when you give up, the answers will be revealed. This app will encourage you to broaden your thinking and put your mind to a challenging test.



                    Not the hole story - Mind Training Apps - Lifehack

                      11. Personal Zen

                      This fun brain training app follows the journey of two animated characters who travel through a field of grass. Personal Zen is a nice app meant for reducing anxiety and trains the brain to focus on the positive aspects. The developer’s advice is to use the app for 10 minutes a day to see the best results.


                      personal zen- mind training apps - lifehack

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