October 27, 2016
When it comes to productivity hacks, there’s certainly no shortage of available tools out there. While some are in the making to be the next big thing, others have been around for quite some time for users to enjoy widespread usage.
As someone who works in front of the computer all the time, I can attest to the endless number of distractions that pull us away from our to-do lists. Considering the onslaught of new blog posts, articles, images, and social media updates popping into our workday—it’s becoming increasingly difficult to stay focused and motivated.
That said, here are some productivity tools you can use to increase efficiency and help with your concentration to accomplish more on your personal computers. You’re welcome.
We all know the importance of managing our time wisely — it’s not a finite resource and yet many of us are unaware of how much of it is frittered away doing nonsense activities in the course of a single workday.
For some, however, it’s not a question of unawareness, rather more of weakened resolve. Take the case of a writer who decides to take five minutes to browse his Facebook page, only to realize that two hours have already passed without an article to show for it.
RescueTime is an app that tracks how much time you usually spend on your computer. It also shows useful details like which programs you use and what sites you visit. You define which categories certain sites fall under, and the app quietly files it all away until you see your weekly report. You’ll also get a monthly productivity summary to see where your precious hours go. Once you become fully aware of where your time goes, you can adjust your screen time and increase your productivity hours.
Most of us may have heard of the Pomodoro technique, which is a productivity method suggesting that working uninterrupted for 25 minutes at a time and taking five-minute breaks in between can help us accomplish more without burning out.
One tomato is equivalent to 25 minutes. With the Pomodoro technique, which derives its name from a tomato-shaped timer, you estimate how many “tomatoes” you’ll require finishing a task, all while taking those five-minute breaks in between.
StrictWorkflow is a good timer app in Chrome to help you figure out those tomato timers you’ll need to accomplish your project.
The ease of using cloud storage has made saving files on computers almost obsolete, but the problem of choosing which cloud facilities to use is becoming more common.
With CloudHQ, you don’t have to go with just one, as you can use them all. Whether it’s Dropbox, Box.net, Google Drive, or something else, you can now store your files, documents, images, music and more in any of these and sync them so that you can access, share, and make updates across various platforms seamlessly.
If you struggle with keeping distracting sites out of your workspace, then this app is for you. StayFocused helps you stay well-focused by blocking sites that will distract you from work.
Here, you get to set the times you want. So, if you’d rather not get sucked into reading your Facebook feed for hours at a time, you can tweak the app to limit your usage to say, 30 minutes a day. Tell the app which sites tempt you the most, then put in the time you’ll spend there, and it’ll do the rest.
Evernote is a very popular app for many years running — and for good reason. With a vision to let its users “remember everything,” the Evernote team has diligently updated its version several times since inception.
As an extension of your brain, it stores everything you need and synchs with numerous apps to allow you to access or create new files anywhere you are. Type notes, do a voice recording, clip websites, and do whatever you need to help you remember all relevant information.
If most of your day is taken up by administrative writing tasks like typing in contact information, addresses, canned e-mails, and the like, then you might need this app.
PhaseExpress is a text expansion product that allows you to do all these with just a few keystrokes. You can be free of mind-numbing texts that take you away from doing more creative and less mundane tasks, which maximizes your day’s most productive hours
When it comes to making and keeping to-do lists, most of us prefer it to be as simple as possible.
Wunderlist is like the old style of note-taking (aka writing it down manually), but what makes this app worth using is that it that syncs to the cloud and is accessible to almost any device, whether mobile or on the PC. Since most of us use our devices for accomplishing projects, Wunderlist allows us to move between tasks and add to the list, without taking up so much of our day.
Most of us have been held hostage by our inboxes, responding to “urgent” messages, and reading numerous newsletters that you need to see “right this instant.”
If you struggle with staying focused amidst a sea of incoming e-mails, pulling away your attention from a project, then this app can definitely help. Aside from keeping new e-mails from hijacking your limited attention span, it also has the option of allowing you to set an auto-response to let people know that you’re open for business, but you’ll only see your e-mail after a set hour.
As a final note, resist the urge to over-schedule your workday whenever possible and take the time to have short and frequent breaks. Productivity entails not just doing more, but accomplishing tasks efficiently while delivering promising results.
When we feel physically and mentally depleted, performance suffers. So, listen to your body before plunging head-on into an especially challenging workday.
James Patterson, head of business development, global corporate clients, joined Merlin in 2007. He oversees business development and sales and marketing initiatives throughout the EMEA and APAC regions for Merlin’s IT and customer support services, managing a team of sales professionals and consultants in these territories. Previous to Merlin, James was a regional sales manager in the health and leisure industry winning many awards for exceeding sales targets and being innovative.