From scheduling mental breaks to making your to-do list a video game, these apps will boost your productivity in no time.
As a society, we’re always looking for ways to unlock the secrets of productivity. Even the world’s most successful companies, including Facebook, strive to make the workday more efficient. Thanks to modern technology there are more apps, tools, and programs to help people stay organized and productive than ever before. Although there are no apps with the ability to add hours to your day, there are many that will help you get more done in the ones you have. Here are four essential tips—and apps—that can help you better reach your goals.
Make the big stuff fun
Productivity expert Charlie Gilkey advises that in order to really up your productivity, you should prioritize High-Value Activities (HVAs) in your daily routine. These are the things that either have a direct impact on your goal or clear the way for the tasks that will. For example, if you are working to launch a product-based startup, your High-Value Activities might be processing orders, but could also be committing time to social media outreach, which will help bring attention to your project.
Unfortunately, most people’s workdays are filled with more than just addressing HVAs. Answering emails and crossing off the menial tasks on our to-do lists will always be a fact of life. But by prioritizing at least one High-Value Activity per day, you’re putting yourself in a better position to succeed.
Habitica can help you keep these HVAs at the top of your priorities by rewarding you for doing them. Following in the footsteps of many mobile games, Habitica allows you to “gamify” your to-do list, turning it into a dynamically visual, enjoyable experience. You can choose which of your daily tasks is most important, and then earn points and incentives as you achieve them—much like a video game. Not only is the app fun to use, but it’s intuitive, too: you can customize your setup to offer reinforcements that work with your personality, keeping you engaged for the long haul.
Take a break to recharge
Studies have shown that taking a 15-minute break can improve productivity and help with goal reactivation, which can help you regain your motivation for the task at hand. Short, frequent, breaks are proven to reinvigorate the mind and improve stamina, because the physical movement away from your desk elevates the heart rate.
Taking a quick walk or coffee break can help clear your head and allow you to reset, but for those looking to unwind at their desks, there is Ambiance. Available in desktop, iOS, and Android platforms, Ambiance allows you to create timed, customized playlists, providing you with an endless loop of relaxing, ambient sounds—perfect for setting the tone for your scheduled break. The app can also be used to help stimulate focus by helping to drown out the noise of your workspace, giving you more focus for the tasks in front of you.
Declutter your digital life
Books like Marie Kondo’s recent bestseller The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and startups like Box Butler and Declutter Me, shows how simplifying your life can often make it better. The act of decluttering is simple enough: by removing that which is unnecessary, you’re creating a clean and easy-to-navigate space. By eliminating the mental burden of being surrounded by stuff you can pave the way to a more productive process.
We go through much of our day hastily jotting down important notes or bookmarking interesting articles to be read later. For keeping track of all of the necessary things in your digital life, there is Evernote. The popular workspace app helps you keep things organized and easy to find, and works across multiple platforms, meaning you can always keep your digital must-haves close by. But there is a lesser-known real-world benefit, too. Thanks to Evernote’s helpful archiving tools, you can import all of those handwritten Post-it notes or receipts you keep lying around for expense reports, leaving you free to toss the excess clutter from your desk as well.
Stop the social media cycle
Whether it’s keeping in touch with friends and family or reaching your online audience in a clear and direct way, social media can be an incredible technological tool. And for many, spending time throughout the workday browsing online can be a good thing, improving your mood and giving your brain a much-needed break. But like everything else in excess, it can distract you from getting things done in a very real way. One recent survey of employers revealed that browsing the Internet and using social media are two of the biggest hindrances to productivity in the workplace and have been estimated to cost billions in lost revenue.
Focus Lock removes the welcome distractions of social media by locking down specific apps on your phone for a set amount of time. Find yourself impulsively checking Twitter instead of working? You can lock it away without impacting any of the other apps on your phone you may need. Ready to take a time out after working hard? Use Focus Lock’s break option, which allows you to open your apps for a quick skim before they’re locked away again.
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