4 Productivity Tools That Will Give You Back Your Sanity

4 Productivity Tools That Will Give You Back Your Sanity

Whether you’re working from home or the office, distractions happen, and they can be a productivity killer. Nearly everyone has an example of weeks that you look back on and wonder “What happened? I know I was busy . . . ” while still feeling as though you’ve accomplished nothing. With deadlines crashing down on your head and the constant demands of family and work, it’s important to be as productive as possible to maintain your sanity. These productivity tools are vetted by experts to help bring balance back to your life — while still getting things done. 

1. Time Trackers

Even if you’re not a fan of tracking every task that comes across your desk, a time tracker can provide a valuable way to give yourself mental freedom from specific tasks. For instance, what if instead of tracking the time you’re doing something, you track the time when you’re not doing something — like checking email? Set a timer for three hours and (gasp!) close your email client completely. Turn your phone over on your desk, and turn off the ringer. For three hours, allow yourself to focus on something other than responding to others. You will be pleasantly surprised at how productive you’re able to be without the constant distractions caused by emails, text messages, and social media without feeling like you’ve been out of the loop for too long. Of course, you can always use time trackers in the traditional way, by setting estimates for time and tracking how long specific tasks will take. Either usage will help bring your productivity back into focus!

2. Take it to the Cloud

Cloud-based document and data storage platforms allow you to be productive regardless of your physical location — a critical need in today’s always-on business world. Google Drive, Dropbox, and Box are a few of the options that offer low-cost ways to sync your information between tablets, mobile phones, and laptops or desktops, so you’re never truly away from the office. More corporations are utilizing these cloud alternatives to traditional enterprise data storage due to the relatively inexpensive cost and ease of use for employees. 

3. Expense Management

Mobile apps such as Expensify allow you to take a quick snap of receipts and classify them by project, something that is invaluable for today’s busy professional. Keeping track of receipts and ensuring that they get assigned to the right account is yet another of those small yet nagging tasks that can reduce your available mental space without a single return. Clear out the clutter mentally and physically when you use a digital expense management tool. 

4. Email Productivity

Professional emails can be a hassle, from trying to remember to send something at just the right time to getting off the myriad of email lists that tend to stack up in your inbox. Tools such as Unroll.me will quickly unsubscribe you from a wide range of email lists in a few short seconds, while tools such as Boomerang allow you to schedule messages for delivery at a later date. This keeps your email from hiding at the bottom of an inbox that is stuffed full overnight. 

Ultimately, these productivity tools will help you squeeze a few extra moments into your day by automating simple tasks such as unsubscribing from email lists and having the information at your fingertips when you need it. When you’re able to take these actions when you think of them, you’re clearing your mind for additional productivity — instead of having to maintain a mental database of open tasks to be completed. Take back your sanity by becoming more productive and regaining some of your focus! 

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Boost Happiness Without Stress: How to Stop Multitasking

Boost Happiness Without Stress: How to Stop Multitasking

Have you ever felt as though you’re not as productive as you’d like to be, even when it seems as though you’re working all the time? Perhaps the problem is not the number of hours that you’re working, but instead, the focus that you’re bringing to each particular task. Studies have shown that multitasking can be incredibly bad for our brains, and is truly a way of doing more things incompetently instead of getting more done! If you’re always checking Facebook, waiting for your email inbox to ding like one of Pavlov’s dogs, or getting interrupted by physical visitors at your desk, you’re not going to be as effective and efficient as you’d like to be. The outcome? More stress — and that’s something we can all do without! 

Your Brain on Multitasking

Did you know that your brain is incapable of multitasking? It’s true, and what your brain is doing when you think you’re ultra-productive is pinging back and forth between tasks at a high rate of speed. The problem is that things often get lost in translation or fall between the cracks of our mental map, making it tough to figure out where we were in a task we abandoned a few minutes before. This “epidemic of distraction” (as some researchers label multitasking) is incredibly prevalent in modern society and starts at a very young age. The cognitive overload that we suffer as a result of multitasking can cause headaches, poor sleep, a feeling of being overwhelmed, and even depression. 

Dangers of Multitasking

It’s not too strong of a word to say that multitasking is dangerous to our brain because it is. This negative practice has been shown to decrease creativity and cognitive control, and lead to serious memory problems. The more you include multitasking in your daily work, the more likely you are to become distracted easily over a longer period. Think about it: if you’re training your brain to be looking for the next distraction constantly, then are you likely to be able to focus well on one task? Probably not. Even something as seemingly simple as glancing at your phone as you’re stepping off a curb can be dangerous to your health for a variety of reasons. If you’re fortunate enough to be out of the way of oncoming traffic, your gait may be affected by your distraction causing a serious fall on the unstable or uneven ground. 

Practicing Mindfulness

One of the best ways to overcome a tendency to multitask is to create mental space for yourself to focus on one task at a time, also known as mindfulness. Try stopping yourself when you start to become distracted. Put away everything else on your desk or computer, close programs (don’t minimize them!), and create a space for yourself to think and to breathe. 

Don’t let yourself fall into the trap of feeling like you need to work at double speed — and multitask — to get everything done. Instead, take a break and focus on getting the most out of each busy day. When you’re able to concentrate on one task at a time, you’ll find that you’re getting a lot more done and staying calmer in the long run. 

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Wish You Were More Productive? Try These 3 Tips!

Wish You Were More Productive? Try These 3 Tips!

Being productive means making room for the things you really want and uncovering new and innovative ways to work smarter, not harder. Thankfully, it’s a lot easier than you probably think it is. If you want to become more productive, here are a few key traits you should focus on.

Take Frequent Breaks to Recharge Yourself

Although this may seem a bit on the counterintuitive side, studies have shown that taking frequent breaks throughout the day help to recharge yourself. Our “biological clock” has two basic forms that are dictated by our natural twenty-four (circadian) rhythms and our shorter than a day, but longer than an hour (ultradian) rhythms. Our ultradian rhythms essentially function in 90-minute intervals. This is why it’s so easy to go from “firing all cylinders” to “boy I need a nap” and back again throughout the course of your work day.

Remember that managing your time and managing your energy are not mutually exclusive. Taking breaks will help get you over the hump and allow you to come back better and stronger than ever. 

The Results Are All That Matters

In a piece originally published by Forbes on how to be a more productive manager, it stated how one of the key traits to focus on is leaning into the results, not the process. One of the reasons why we often feel overwhelmed at work is because we’re just not getting the results we’re after with a particular task. This causes our productivity (and as a result, our morale) to take a nosedive.

Because of this, it’s important to make your number one priority a high-quality, consistent, and reliable output, rather than simply trying to do as many things at the same time as possible.

Discipline, Discipline, Discipline

According to the experts at PsychCentral.com, one of the essential things that you can do to become more productive at work is to maintain a strict sense of self-discipline at all times. Highly productive people aren’t just able to eliminate tasks that are ultimately time-wasters – they also have a high degree of personal responsibility and are constantly looking for ways to improve themselves, both of which fall back under the distinct umbrella of discipline.

Hitting goals, meeting deadlines, fulfilling promises – these are the true goals behind that task you’re trying to find the time to accomplish. Maintaining focus on these through strict self-discipline is the perfect way to suddenly find more time in each day. 

These are just a few of the key traits that you can focus on to instantly become more productive at work. This was the good news – the better news is that gains like these in your professional life will undoubtedly have a ripple effect on your personal life, too. You’ll be happier at home, and you’ll have more time to spend with your loved ones. It really is a win-win situation. 

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Moving Beyond Just Increasing Productivity

Moving Beyond Just Increasing Productivity

Thanks largely to the fact that there is a lot of work to be done and only so many hours in a day to do it, many business owners tend to think of raising productivity as their primary objective at any given time. Unfortunately, this isn’t really the case – it only appears to be on the surface.

Consider the fact that “productivity” as a metric is not something that you can improve indefinitely. You can only find new and innovative ways to raise the amount of work you’re able to do so far before you hit a period of diminishing returns. People WILL get overworked, at which point you’re farther away from your ultimate goal of “do the best work possible, no exceptions” than you were when you started.

Increasing productivity is a means to an end: it is not the end in and of itself. Instead, there are far more important things for running a successful business that you should be focusing on.

Don’t Focus on Outcomes. Focus on Processes

When people place all of their emphasis on increasing productivity, “work harder” tends to become the mantra of the day. However, the old phrase of “work smarter, not harder” still very much applies – or at least it should for the best results.

Focus less on what your employees can do and more on how they’re able to do it. Does your management style create unnecessary waste in the daily workflows of your staff? Do what you can to eliminate it wherever possible. Would giving your employees the ability to work remotely make their lives easier, thus increasing the QUALITY of the work they’re able to offer? It’s something you should consider.

Instead of looking at work as an issue of quantity, look to quality wherever possible. Do whatever it takes to improve HOW your employees are working and rest assured, WHAT they’re able to do will improve as a result.

Keep Everyone on the Same Page

As time goes on, one of the biggest challenges that business leaders face tends to be one of communication. Remember that every department or team in your business isn’t acting in a vacuum – they’re all essentially working together to form the single cohesive whole that is your business in the first place. A vacuum is exactly what is created when you don’t take the time to periodically redefine exactly what a person or team’s purpose is, what they’re doing and (most importantly) why that matters.

Giving people a mission that is unclear or that lacks focus is an excellent way to lower engagement at the same time. Always take the time to make sure that everyone has their “eye on the prize,” so to speak, regarding why they should care and what the prize is they should be eyeing.

These are just a few of the factors that are far more important than the blanket concept of “increased productivity” in the world of business. In fact, you’ll often find that when you take the time to focus on other areas of your business to help create the well-oiled machine you always wanted to be running, productivity tends to increase on its own as a result. Workflows become easier to sustain, and communication becomes clearer, paving the way for the high volume of quality, timely production you were after in the first place.

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5 Ways to Make More Money Simply by Using Your Time Well

5 Ways to Make More Money Simply by Using Your Time Well

We entrepreneurs want to do everything personally. This often includes menial tasks that can cost us money. Sure, we get the satisfaction of doing it ourselves, but that satisfaction comes at the cost of profit. Broken faucet? We’re on the job! But the time spent fixing that plumbing is time we didn’t spend on the business, and that lost time could have earned us far more than what we saved by doing the job ourselves.

Making money is rarely about saving it. It’s largely about getting more out of every second of every day. When people talk about the richest people in the world, they don’t just talk about their net worth. Instead, they talk about how much money they make per second or per hour. That’s because deep down, we all know that life is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s about making proper use of our time so we make more money per hour.

So how can we accomplish more in less time? Here are five ideas to get you started.

1. Focus on the Jobs That Make the Most Money

There are plenty of things an entrepreneur has to get done, and not all of them are business-related. Marketing, house cleaning, link building, and customer service are just some examples. Which of these isn’t like the others? Which one won’t make you money? If you answered house cleaning, you’re right. Time is money, and if you spend your time on the little things, you’ll end up sacrificing the big things — the jobs that can pay for your food, rent, and car.

Time management isn’t just about finding time to do everything. It’s about prioritizing and finding the time to do the right things.

2. Relax

Many of us wrongly associate relaxation with lethargy or laziness. Nothing could be further from the truth. While most people would find it unthinkable to relax when they have a business to run, that’s not true for those who make hundreds of dollars per hour.

Relaxation allows a person to create space between their work and themselves. It gives them the time to rest, and with that time the ability to see the forest for the trees. Bury your nose in your work, and you’ll start to lose perspective. Time off helps to maintain that edge.

Taking some time to relax also lets you recharge. Most entrepreneurs handle multiple aspects of the business every day — juggling numbers, thoughts, ideas, and who knows what else. Even in short bursts, such activity can be extremely tiring and can rob a person of their energy in record time. An entrepreneur low on energy is more likely to miss out on an important detail or two, and that can spell disaster down the road.

3. Get a Personal Assistant

A personal assistant is there to make life easier for you and to sort out the little things, which is great since it lets you focus on the big issues instead. For as little as eight dollars per hour, you can hire someone who will perform basic tasks, such as making sure your bills get paid on time or doing your grocery shopping for you. If you develop a good relationship with your assistant and they prove trustworthy, you could even end up using them to sort through your email, so only important messages get your attention.

Depending on your situation, you might not even need your assistant to be in the same country. Virtual assistants can work well as researchers and email handlers from anywhere in the world.

4. Find Out When You Do Your Best Work, and Work Then

Each person has a different rhythm. Stephen King works in the morning and until noon. So did Henry Miller, who would work from morning till afternoon, spending evenings with friends. They understood they had a rhythm. Instead of fighting it, they embraced it fully.

You should do the same. Figure out when you do your best work. Make a chart if it helps. Once you figure out when the best ideas come and when you feel in the zone, work out your schedule so it coincides with your ideal work time.

5. Get a Maid

A clean workspace is a usable workspace. It’s relatively easy to find people who can clean your house, wash your dishes, and cook. Those chores take time you could be spending on marketing a new product. Focus on making enough to afford to pay someone to clean your floors, while you ensure your financial independence and future.

When it’s all said and done, it really boils down to this: You need to figure out which aspects of your life make the most money and which ones can be delegated. If it isn’t worth your time, don’t do it. It’s as simple as that.

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Four Tips to STOP Wasting Time

Four Tips to STOP Wasting Time

Productivity and time management go hand in hand. If you’re feeling inefficient, STOP and give this quick four-step method a try.

  • See your objectives clearly. If you don’t know where you’re going, how can you possibly know the best way to get there? Take a few minutes to identify your goal and the steps you must take to reach it.
  • Target the issues you’re facing and the reasons behind what you’re doing. Analyze your current course of action to determine if it’s the most efficient and effective way to reach your goal.
  • Organize your options. Ask yourself if there are any faster but equally effective ways you could be doing what you’re doing. Even seemingly small things can make a big impact on your efficiency.
  • Plan your work — and work your plan. Start to put the things you uncovered in the previous steps into action. You might be surprised just how much more productive — and happy — you feel.
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