Actual Apps For Increasing Your Productivity
Tired of sitting at your desk and feeling unproductive? Everyone goes through slumps when they feel like they’re not doing enough, especially during slow weeks at work. It happens even to the best of us. Eventually, something will happen to make work exciting again, but what do you do in the meantime to keep your productivity going?
Productivity is an important part of any business, which is why we spend so much time discussing it in our blog posts. While there are many things you can do to increase your productivity, and the productivity of others in your office, productivity itself isn’t a skill you can practice and hone. It’s something made up of a number of other traits and skills. Luckily, these skills can be practiced, and there are number of tools available that can help.
1. Time Management
You don’t need to be an octopus to manage your time wisely – you just need good a good organizer and some careful planning!
For some people, managing their time efficiently comes naturally, and they seem to finish all their tasks effortlessly and without much planning. For the rest of us, time management is a skill we need to work on and learn. There are many gadgets and apps out there designed to help with time management skills, such as toggl, which tracks how much time is spent on a project, and the Google app, G Queues, which enables you to track tasks, assignments, and their due dates.
Planning out your day early is one of the best ways to get yourself started right, but keeping to it can be difficult. One way to mitigate the damage distractions can do is to allow time for them in your schedule, especially if you work in an office full of people who may need your attention. It’s also important to schedule breaks – and to take them! Working through a break may be tempting, especially when deadlines start looming, but breaks help your brain recharge, and you often return refreshed and full of new ideas after taking one.
2. Organization and Prioritization
In order to come up with an effective schedule, you need to have good organization skills, and know how to budget and prioritize your time. Not all tasks need to be done right away, and some can be put off for a little longer than others. Being productive means getting the right things done, not doing as much as possible in a small time frame. Knowing what’s important, and being able to put it before other, sometimes more enjoyable, tasks. G Queues, as mentioned above, or the iOS Priorities app can help you prioritize by showing you which deadlines are looming, and which ones you can take a little longer on.
Likewise, being organized allows you to spend more time on important tasks, and less time on trivial tasks like searching for a phone number or looking up a piece of information. Like with time management tools, there are a myriad of organizational apps on the market, and they’re not just geared towards scheduling. Some, like FullContact Card Reader for the iOS and Android, will help you manage and organize your contact information! Figuring out which app is right one for what you want to accomplish may seem like a trivial task, but once it’s taken care of, you’ll be able to save yourself a lot of time in the future.
3. Problem Solving
How do you feel when you notice that you’ve been wasting time instead of being productive? Do you immediately start beating yourself up over it, or do you stop and take the time to figure out why you’ve been so distracted, and find ways to improve the situation? If the second example sounds like you, then congratulations! You’re a natural born problem solver! Luckily for the rest of us, problem solving starts with having a positive attitude and becomes easier the more you practice.
Many problem solving apps are geared towards solving puzzles or playing games to improve your brain power. Lumosity, for example, is a great app designed to train your brain to solve problem by giving you a set of three games at a time. Fit Brains Trainer is another app full of challenging puzzles that only get harder the more you improve.
You can also practice your problem solving skills by solving mundane problems, like what you’re going to have for dinner. The trick with problem solving skills isn’t to learn the best way to handle one each individual problem you come across, but to learn how to handle being presented with a problem. The more you do it, the more problem solving becomes something of a habit, so that when major problems do arise, you feel confident in your ability to handle them.
Mastering the process for solving problems takes practice before it becomes habit. Image courtesy of mit.edu
In a world filled with social media, coworkers, emails and phone calls, finding the focus needed to get things done can be difficult. In our discussing of time management, we mentioned allowing time for distractions over the course of your work day, but sometimes, that’s just not enough. A quick glance at Facebook while your screen is loading can easily become five, ten minutes wasted, especially if someone’s been posting adorable cat videos (don’t worry, we won’t link to any here).
Like with all the other skills listed here, having good focusing skills comes with time and practice, and sometimes with the help of apps. Social media especially is addicting, which is why a number of distraction reducing apps exist to help break the habit. Keeping your cell phone turned off and out of sight will minimize its siren call, and if you still feel like you can’t resist making a grab for it, you can always pick up a timed cell phone locker, and Android has a Priority mode that will only allow certain functions to be used.
For office workers who use browser based applications for work, making sure work related tabs are the ONLY tabs up will help keep you on task. Anti-Social will help by blocking out tempting sites, or you can use Concentrate, which will bring up everything you need to complete one specific task and block out everything else. Finally, if you just can’t get your brain in gear, taking one of those very important breaks and going for a walk outside can help clear out the clutter.
5. Positive Attitude!
This cat has been hanging in there since the 70s.
Having a can-do attitude is not just important for when you encounter problems, it can help keep your productivity up all across the board. One of the reasons that someone may find their attention drifting is if a task is boring and understimulating. Approaching tasks with an upbeat mindset and being to find a way to make even the most tedious of chores interesting will keep your productivity levels maximized. Ways to do this involve things like listening to upbeat music (especially video game and electronic music), switching up your tasks, or pretending you’re working for Starfleet.
Having trouble being a positive thinker? Take a deep breath, hold it for three seconds, then let it out again slowly. Take a walk and get some fresh air. Like with all the other skills, being positive is a trainable skill, even if it comes easier to some people than others. One way to do this is to surround yourself with positive imagery, like that Hang In There, Baby! poster, pictures of people who support you, or just pictures of things that you like. Happify can also help you train your brain to be positive with quizzes, polls, and journaling. Need a boost in the mornings to help you get out of bed and motivated for the day? The Rock Clock for the iOs and Android has got you covered.
During slow periods, browsing Facebook and playing Solitaire may seem like the only thing you can do to get through the day, but you don’t have to struggle with an unproductive slump. Using these apps can help you get your game back faster than simply waiting around for something to happen.
Looking for more brain sharpening apps? A post by Nancy Salim at YourHearing includes even more apps to keep your brain engaged.