Everyone wants to be productive. In fact, most people are looking for ways to become more productive than they already are. Just this morning, we posted about ways to be productive even during your down time and I have to say, having tried the Pomodoro Technique myself, I can vouch for the efficacy of that method.
The basic premise is that you can get yourself to focus on even the most strenuous or boring task for 25 minutes at a stretch. If you’re interested, here’s a free Pomodoro timer so you can give it a try.
So what are some other easy and approachable tools that pack a punch for increasing your productivity? We gave it some thought, and found some of the more innovative and effective tools you can start using right away to get more done in less time.
The Almighty To Do Lists
To do lists have always been the number one way for me to maximize productivity, and today there are more apps and programs then ever for you to select the one that best suits your needs. Here are three different but equally effective options.
This was a suggestion from one of our guest authors, Belle Beth Cooper. She described it as a “a really powerful task manager that can keep up with pretty much anything you throw at it.” That’s a great bid of confidence if you ask me.
I personally use Wunderlist and find its extremely straightforward and clean interface to be exactly what I need in a to do list app. Make lists, assign dates, choose a nice, soothing background image and check things off. If you need to, you can set reminders that will pop up on your mobile device as well. I use it on my Macbook and my iPhone.
Workflowy takes a slightly different approach in that it’s the barest of bare bones. Black and white and stark, it’s centered around the idea of lists with many subsets you can zoom into and out of as needed, for more detailed breakdowns of various tasks.
When You Need to Write, and Only Write
Those of us that write a lot, be we content marketers, bloggers, or students, we’ve all hit a wall at some point where the distractions of our environments just get in the way of good writing. For those times when you just need to tune out and drill down into a writing project, these are some great options.
4. Good old fashioned pen and paper
Seemingly the most “in the box” option around town these days, actually writing on paper with a pen is something our copyeditor here at Bplans, Briana, swears by. One clear advantage with this is that it’s low cost, basically always available, and eliminates distractions from technology.
And when pen and paper just won’t cut it:
WriteMonkey is a full-screen, no distractions text editor for Windows.
I love two things about Ommwriter (for Mac users): it’s pretty, based on the idea that zen imagery and minimalist interfaces lead to more productivity (this definitely works for me) and it’s donationware, meaning that you can pick how much you pay for it.
Saving Yourself, From Yourself
We can all use a little a rescue from ourselves now and again. When the tendency arises to procrastinate, give in to distractions, or eat yet another cookie, sometimes you need a helping hand or an accessible alternative to keep you on your game. Here are some suggestions.
Unstuck aims to get you back on the productive track again when you’ve become—you guessed it—stuck. It’s free, you can get started in less than 30 seconds (I know, I did it) and it jumps in right away asking a series of questions about why you’re stuck, how you’re stuck, and what’s involved. It then “diagnoses” your stuckness and provides you with tips, examples, and resources on how to solve your problem and become productive once more.
8. A Life of Productivity Blog
Are you wondering about the latest fad or trend in productivity? Maybe you’re thinking of taking up meditation, or drinking soylent as means to be more productive. Instead of spending the time to jump on a bunch of different bandwagons yourself, check out the multitude of experiments and data that Chris Bailey has created on his blog.
This blog is full of useful information and reviews on a wide variety of productivity-increasing techniques. You’ll save time and be more productive in the long run by being able to gauge what’s right for you based off of someone else’s actual first-hand experiences.
This Chrome extension is basically the definition of saving yourself from yourself: it blocks time wasting sites for the rest of the day after a set amount of time. Straight forward, effective, and free. You’ll be managing your time better (and becoming more productive) almost by default.
10. Eating Brain-Healthy Foods
The research is in—there are certain things that you can start eating today that will improve your brain health and functioning, so you can stay sharp and productive. It can be tempting to reach for things we know aren’t healthy, but the good news is that healthier options are actually easy-to-find things; you probably have some of them within reach right now!
- Dark chocolate
- Nuts and seeds
- Green tea
- Whole grains
- Green leafy vegetables
These have all been shown to have positive effects on brain health, and protect against cognitive decline as you age. A healthy mind is a productive mind, and there’s no time like the present to start eating your way there.
What have you found that keeps you productive? Have you tried any of these tools? I’d love to hear about your experiences!