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5 Tools to Kickstart your Productivity for 2016

7 January 2016

It’s a brand new year, and you’ve set yourself specific goals for 2016. You’ve reflected on another year past, and compiled a list of resolutions to improve yourself – both personally and professionally. But trying to implement too many new ideas could lead to you not having the time to successfully follow through.

But what if we merely fine-tuned our processes, instead of completely overhauling them. We look at a selection of amazing tools and simple techniques to get more done with the little time you have.

1) Wunderlist

Rated by The Verge as the best to-do list app in 2014, Wunderlist is a great tool for organising your personal or professional life. Whether you need to track progress on multiple projects at work, or collaborate on a home shopping list (my memory is lacking sometimes), this app will suit your needs.

Not only can you share your lists, you can set reminders and due dates, add notes, leave comments

It’s accessible via your desktop, and just about any mobile device. Adding tasks via the mobile or desktop app is incredibly easy, and you can even add tasks via e-mail. If you upgrade to the Pro subscription, you gain the ability to collaborate with unlimited team members on tasks, delegate tasks to each member, and more.

Wunderlist was acquired by Microsoft earlier this year.

2) Sunrise

A calendar app that integrates with Google Calendar, Exchange and iCloud. You can link events from your favourite applications such as Facebook, Evernote, Wunderlist and LinkedIn and make sure you’re aware of all your meetings and other scheduled events. Again this app allows you to synch all information across all of your devices.

A great feature that was launched in May 2015 is Meet, a means of scheduling meetings (or personal events like parties or dinners) in available time slots. All you need to do is select a time slot, and send any of your contacts a message from within the app.

Microsoft purchased Sunrise Atelier Inc, the developers of Sunrise, in February 2015. In October 2015 they announced that Sunrise would soon be integrated into Outlook Mobile.

3) Google Keep

A note-taking app that was initially released on Android in 2013, but finally made it to iOS in late 2015. What sets this apart from other similar apps is how it pairs with various other Google apps. For example:

  • Location-based reminders (Google Maps) – Examples: When you arrive at the location of your next meeting, you receive a reminder regarding specific questions you wanted to ask that group. Or maybe your shopping list notification pops up when entering your local grocery store.
  • Search and filtering options (Google Search)
  • The ability to share your notes with anybody that has a Google account, which means over 900 million users.

Other features include the ability to record audio notes, creating Google Docs from your notes, and converting text in images to pure text.

4) KanbanFlow

KanbanFlow - Overview

If you’re like me , then everything seems to make more sense when it’s all laid out in front of you. A Kanban board  is a means of visualising your projects, giving you an overview of everything that needs to be done. Team members must also focus on completing fewer tasks at once, thus allowing you to finish your work faster, and avoid unnecessary stress.

All work is sorted into four different colums:

  1.  To-do
  2. Do today
  3. In progress
  4. Done

Any work that is completed is updated in real-time so you are always aware of the status of your projects. KanbanFlow was built with speed in mind, so each action can be done with a minimal amount of effort. There is also a mobile site if you’re working on the move.

This app has an even better effect if you pair it with the Pomodoro Technique.

Pomodoro

… the Pomodoro technique, a different way of managing your time spent on work. You simple decide which task you need to finish, and wholly focus on that for 25 minutes. Thereafter you take a short break (anything from 3 – 5 minutes). That cycle continues 4 times, and then you take a longer break, between 15 – 30 minutes.

This allows you to fully focus on single tasks for limited periods of time, instead of trying to do too much at the same time, and getting distracted inbetween. The application records all of your statistics – time worked – interruptions – and scores you. You can even compare scores with your friends if you’re feeling competitive.

5) Pocket

Using Pocket to save some social media articles

Catching up on social media articles

The world wide web forces a mass amount of content at us, but not much time to absorb it all in. Enter Pocket, a handy app to save or bookmark content to read later. The app first appeared in 2007 as paid-for Read it Later, but underwent an overhaul and a rebranding in 2012 to Pocket, and also became 100% free.

For mobile, the Pocket app supports hundreds of apps, and syncs your content across all your devices. Also your content can still be viewed when offline. For desktop there is an Chrome extension to quickly add articles or videos to be viewed at a later stage. Whenever you’re on a page you wish to read / view later, simply click the icon and it will be saved.

A new addition to Pocket last year was Recommendations. Pocket provides a list of suggested people you can follow for recommended content based on what you have saved. Users can also recommend articles that will then be displayed on their profile, to be seen by others.

TIME Magazine listed Pocket as one of their top 50 Android apps of 2013, with millions of articles being saved via the app on a daily basis.

Bonus: Productivity Tips

  • There are more distractions than social media or the internet in general. Your colleagues and dealing with queries can take up a lot of your time. You could try getting to work before anybody else. 30 minutes or more without any distractions will help you get a great headstart to your working day.
  • You’ve got a heavy day ahead. If you complete your hardest tasks first, the rest of the day will be an easier ride.
  • Lessen the use of your personal phone at your workplace. In a 2014 survey by CareerBuilder, it was found that cellphones were the biggest distractions for employees – 50% off people surveyed admitted to regularly accessing their phone to text chat or access the internet.
  • Eliminate unnecessary meetings. If something can be quickly discussed and taken care of, rather do that as too many meetings can become disruptive.

We wish you success for the new year ahead.