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12 FREE TOOLS TO HELP YOU BE MORE PRODUCTIVE IN 2017
Lea Sharp - on May 19, 2017
Work smarter, not harder.
I put forward my strongest procrastination game when writing this blog post #truth… It just goes to show that all the tools in the world can’t help you if you don’t get your hustle on, but being productive doesn’t mean killing yourself to work harder – being productive is all about leveraging your time and resources to be more efficient.
Did you know that one of the top recommendations to increase productivity and stop procrastination is to take more breaks? Specifically 17 minute breaks – Yep, I’m not kidding.
“The reason the most productive 10% of our users are able to get the most done during the comparatively short periods of working time is that their working times are treated as sprints. They make the most of those 52 minutes by working with intense purpose, but then rest up to be ready for the next burst. In other words, they work with purpose. Working with purpose can also be called the 100% dedication theory—the notion that whatever you do, you do it full-on.”
Along with taking regular breaks, top tips to increase productivity include keeping hydrated, exercising daily, going to bed early and eating a balanced diet. Following these practices will help you to achieve more by keeping your energy and concentration levels at their peak.
But if you’re time-poor like most of us are in recent years, all the energy in the world won’t help you to work through that to-do list… that’s where organisation and automation come into play.
Organising your tasks can decrease your mental and emotional loads – getting all those little reminders and thoughts out of your head and onto paper (or electronic device) frees up your mind for the more important things (like what to eat!). Next, automate everything you possibly can – If it doesn’t need to be done by you personally, delegate and automate.
I use a few systems in my house to keep things running smoothly including paper and electronic systems (I’m still figuring out how to automate the cleaning though!). The 12 productivity tools I’ve included in this list have been personally tried and tested by yours truly, and I love them. Anything that gives you that sense of achievement and makes ‘working’ fun is a win in my book.
IFTTT stands for If This Then That and is used to create automatic actions caused by certain triggers. This tool connects 2 ‘channels’ (apps or programs) using what’s referred to as a ‘recipe’ so that when there is a trigger from the primary app, it causes an action from the second. With IFTTT you can automate your home triggering lights to turn on when you arrive, automate your social media by integrating platforms and keep track of important tasks by adding information from Gmail and Evernote to your daily to-do list.
Evernote is one of my favourite apps, I use it on a daily basis to keep track of pretty much everything. Evernote is a digital note taking platform available on your smart phone and computer meaning that you can type up your shopping list at home and pull it up on your phone while you’re at the shops, easily ticking off each item as you go. I personally use it as a blog content calendar, shopping list, weekly planner, task manager and to quickly jot down my ideas and goals before I forget them.
Evernote allows you to keep all your notes and documents in one place, easily accessible from any device. You can also integrate it with IFTTT for a more streamlined work process. If you’re new to the app you’ll find this article for Evernote beginners useful.
With Google Calendar you can plan your days well in advance, setting yourself goals with reminders and deadlines for better time management. Google Calendar is also available on your smart phone and desktop device making it easy to access from anywhere.
With the ability to create multiple calendars for different areas of your life you can also share your calendar with co-workers or clients to show your available times and easily schedule meetings or keep your spouse on track sharing weekly routines.
Hubspot hit the nail on the head with this article ‘16 Little-Known Google Calendar Features That’ll Make You More Productive’.
4. Time Doctor
Time Doctor is a time tracking & productivity app that enables employees to track their time on various tasks, apps and websites. It helps them stay organized and up-to-date in managing their time. The reports and time sheets generated help the employer to monitor the employee productivity when they are located far apart. Time Doctor is compatible with all devices like Mac, Windows, iPhone and iPad. It also provides integration with 32 top apps for extended functionality.
E.ggtimer is a simple and easy to use app to be used similar to the old fashioned egg-timer your Mum might have used in her kitchen. Use the apps pre-set timers for your general 5/10/30 minute intervals or browse their special timers for specific tasks such as the Pomodoro timer for improved concentration during work and study, brushing teeth mode for – you guessed it, brushing your teeth. E.ggtimer even has an option for a tabata timer to get your blood pumping with a fierce workout.
How much of your memory is taken up by trying to remember a thousand and one passwords? Or are you one of those irresponsible people who just use the same password for everything? 😉
This is where LastPass comes in – Don’t sacrifice security by saving your passwords in a WordDoc or risk losing them among the pile of post-its, LastPass encrypts and stores all your sensitive information and with the handy browser extension you have the ability to set the app to automatically save your data as you enter it into online forms.
Alright, you might be wondering about this one but I swear I Pinterest is great for increasing productivity, even LifeHack agrees with me! (although it can be good for time wasting too). I use Pinterest to store all our meal ideas from the weekly meal planner instead of printing out individual recipes to store (I HATE clutter). It’s fantastic for motivation, getting ideas for organising the home and all that jazz.
Take a page from the muse’s book and try out DeskTime to track your productivity. I was hesitant on this one, I didn’t doubt that it was a good app but I didn’t really want to know how much time I was wasting checking my emails and social media, but if we don’t review we can’t improve.
DeskTime is easy to use and available on whatever device you wish to use it on – It’s best used in an office or business setting for multiple users so you can see how much time your employees are spending looking up cat memes.
If you’re anything like me you might have the best of intentions but sometimes that 15 minutes of extra sleep in the morning sounds a whole lot better than that quick yoga session you know would be good for you. The Momentum Habit Tracker helps you maintain motivation for these types of tasks by setting goals and encouraging you to keep the ‘chain’ going.
Mindbloom almost sounds too good to be true, offering you the option to ‘Grow the life you want’. Using the metaphor of the growing tree Mindbloom gives you the option to choose which areas of life you would like to focus on and helps you to set goals and gather inspirational quotes, slides and music for each. As you complete each task you are awarded a certain amount of water, inspiration gives you a percentage of sun and these are used to help your little tree of life grow giving you an immediate reward for your hard work.
Moodnotes is your own electronic Cognitive Behaviour journal. Using Moodnotes you are able to track your mood throughout the day and analyse what causes certain changes in mood or thinking patterns. This gives you the ability to reflect on your thought patterns and habits and learn how to improve on them and avoid the thinking ‘traps’. Moodnotes boasts an increase in self-awareness and reduced distress for its users. It’s one of my personal favourites for sure.
If you’re poor like me and can’t justify hiring a personal assistant (hah!) FocusList is going to be your new best friend, it’s super simple to use which benefits people like me who have 24/7 brain fog.
FocusList uses the Pomodoro method to help you plan your day and work through your daily tasks. Add your to-do list to your app, select the task which you wish to complete and FocusList will help you to focus on the task at hand for 25 minutes, alerting you when it’s time to take a 5 minute break ensuring you minimise distractions and maximise efficiency.
Unfortunately I haven’t come across any apps that actually DO the work for you, but where would the fun and sense of achievement be in that anyway.
Leave a comment below and let me know what your secrets are for staying motivated and increasing productivity, I’d love to hear them.
‘Organic Coconut is an online health food store and healthy living blog based in Queensland, Australia. Specialising in Virgin Coconut Oil, Organic Coconut Foods and Natural Body Products, the team behind Organic Coconut aim to help you improve your mood, heal your body and enhance your life through an integrative approach.’