Tag Archives: best productivity apps

5 Productivity Hacks You Should Be Using Now

When things are really hitting the fan you don’t just need one productivity hack – you need an arsenal.


By Suzanne Tucker / Shutterstock

The panic is real. So many things to do, all of equal value and all due yesterday! How do you cut through the noise? Here are my proven hacks for achieving the impossible.

Mindset

The most important place to begin is your mind. Often in high pressure situations you begin to worry. You worry about the volume of tasks you need to do, the timeframes, the pressures put on you to deliver and the number of project responsibilities.

Within this context (the brow furrowing worry), the brain becomes overwhelmed. Research has proven that ability of working memory to direct attention to what’s relevant is incredibly compromised, the brain is effectively running lots of programmes at once and everything slows down. In terms of how the brain processes information, we know that the brain dedicates capacity to verbal information and some capacity to spatial information. When people are worried it is common that they talk to themselves in their head – worries tend to be verbal and therefore compete for the limited pool of capacity.

Psychologist Sian Beilock found that when students are presented with a mathematical problem presented horizontally “32 – 17 = x” it demands more of the brain’s verbal resources than when the same problem is presented vertically.

The brain processes vertical information visually and therefore accesses the spatial capacity which has less demand for its resources.

This is often why making lists can feel better!

Taking back control

Understanding how the brain works is one thing but if things are really hitting the fan then don’t just need one productivity hack – you need an arsenal! Here are my top five productivity hacks to help you take back control.

1. Eisenhower Matrix

President Eisenhower was on to something when he shared this technique of decision making and prioritisation. It is a four box quadrant that helps you organise tasks in order of urgency and importance. My on-the-ground approach is to draw up four large boxes in my notebook and head them up according to what I need e.g. Urgent / Do now, Do next, Monitor, Delegate then I simply put each task under these headings and focus on one thing at a time.

2. Find an organisational app like Trello

Once you have identified the individual tasks and organised them into an Eisenhower, it can be helpful to transfer them to an electronic platform where you can easily access and update them. I am a huge fan of Trello, it is a free “to do list” app that I use for all of my projects. Having your to do list in an electronic platform gives you the opportunity to share your to do list and collaborate with other people as well as update things when you’re on the go.

3. Pomodoro Technique

This is a time management technique that dates back to the 1980’s, it was created by Francesco Cirillo and is based on the principle of short, sharp, concentrated bursts of activity. If you’re curious, the technique is named after the Pomodoro (tomato) timer that Cirillo used when he was at university.

Once you have your Eisenhower Matrix completed and your life uploaded into Trello, take the most urgent tasks and block out your calendar accordingly. You may need to play with the time period that suits you, some people can do a full hour but I prefer no more than 30 minutes – that’s a long time concentrating on one task!

4. Technology lock down

It’s so simple to do and yet most people do not apply this last trick, shut down the emails! Close your emails and any other system that can notify or distract you.  Do not assume that you are superior to the temptation of technology and distractions. If you see an email pop up, you will be tempted to answer it. Just say no!

5. Change your environment

If possible, work away from your usual spot. Either work from home, a different desk, a café, a meeting room. It can be anywhere just as long as you can concentrate. Breaking away from your usual work spot should reinforce the objective you are trying to achieve, and most importantly it can keep you from being interrupted.

If you implement all of these tools and combine them into a new way of working, you will be sure to come out the other side winning. What are your proven hacks? Share in the comments, I’d love to hear about them.

4 of the best productivity apps and websites

No matter how motivated we think we are, we all experience that productivity-lull – and it doesn’t just happen on Friday’s…

Thankfully we’re dosed-up on caffeine, and have ploughed headlong into the world of productivity apps and useful websites so you don’t have too.

Here are a smattering of our current favourites:

Best productivity tools: Slack messaging app

Slack

We’ve crushed on Slack hard here at Procurious HQ… We’ve had to tell Jack (Product Manager) off for making googly eyes at his screen, and the idea was to boost productivity!

Tony Conrad (founder of About.me) says the following: “I am basically in love with Slack. It took us less than 24 hours to get everyone on board (as you know, people are resistant to change), and it is amazing.” But this could come from any number of fresh Slack converts…

Slack brings all of your communication together in one place. It takes all the best bits from your MSN Messenger’s, Skype’s, and Lync’s, while leaving all the needless bloat behind. Its clean and uncluttered interface means nothing gets in the way of the meat and potatoes of

The best bit? Slack is completely free to use (for as long as you want), and with an unlimited number of people too. Go team go!
Yo app gets new features

Yo

Today we’re revisiting Yo – the simplistic, throwaway app has graduated to big-boy pants and somewhat surprisingly has attracted even more funding…

Remind yourself what we said about it first-time round. 

The #firstmovers among you may still have Yo installed – and if so you might like to know that its just received its first considerable update. But with it comes an extra layer of complexity, one we’re not entirely sure is needed.

Yo Link adds the ability to chaperone your ‘Yo’ with a URL – Or Arbel (Yo Founder) says this of the functionality: “News websites can now offer not only getting instant Yo notifications when a story breaks, but also attach the story itself and readers can open it in a frictionless and convenient way.”

Hashtags are also now supported.

The beauty (or madness, depending on who you asked) of Yo, was its purposefully limited offering. Has Yo’s visionary over-egged the pudding?

Best productivity tools: Timeful app

Timeful

Are you an iPhone user, and suffer from poor time-management? As luck would have it, we have the very app for you…  Timeful aims to take the weight off your heavy shoulders by helping you to get things scheduled and completed more effectively.

Timeful arrives in an already crowded market, but because it syncs with your calendars (Google, Microsoft Exchange, Apple iCal, etc.) it can use its intelligent time management system to help you make the best use of your time by suggesting things for you. The app also allows the user to add specific to-do items and ’habits’ they would like to turn into recurring activities.

What’s more, the more you use it, the better it gets. Over time, our algorithms will learn what you like to do and when you like to do it, which will help generate more accurate suggestions.

Android users fear not – a version is reportedly in the works, as is a web-based edition. So soon you’ll all have so much free time you won’t know what to do with it… Spend it on Procurious yeah?

Best productivity tools: Buffer app for iOS and Android Buffer

While we’re not playing around with the excellent IFTTT or Friends+Me services – we’re turning our eye to the equally-awesome Buffer app. It’s definitely worth a go if you find yourself juggling posts across multiple social networks…

By making Buffer part of your daily routine you don’t need to worry about lumping all of your social media updates together in one period. Just bash some posts out, save and schedule them to be pushed out throughout the day (or week).

Buffer will play quite happily with your Internet browser (Chrome, Safari, and Firefox are all supported), just install one of the browser extensions, then click the Buffer icon whenever you spot something shareable.

There’s integration with Twitter, Facebook, Google+ (and more) under the hood, plus it offers both web and mobile access so you can post and schedule updates even if away from the computer.