“Productivity is being able to do things that you were never able to do before.” - Franz Kafka
That, my friends, is a far cry from how we tend to look at productivity in this day and age.
For most modern companies (and employees), boosting productivity has become more focused on squishing an elephant of a to-do list into an ever shrinking room. That means seeking out every opportunity to get more done in less time. Hacks! Multi-tasking!
But juggling 67 productivity tips can easily end up distracting you from the important stuff. Like accomplishing goals and recouping mental energy. You know, all the good stuff we're after when we say we want to be more productive. Kafka may have been onto something...
We've collected 7 of our favorite productivity tools (the kind that give your brain a breather) for your perusing pleasure.
Think of WorkFlowy as the most organized rabbit hole in the history of all humankind. Scared? Don’t be. The interface offers simple nesting to-do lists for your desktop or your phone. You can use WorkFlowy to manage small tasks (like a grocery list) and large projects (like a family reunion) alike.
Other cool features include the option to share your list(s) with others and assign due dates to tasks.
Bottomline: Less complicated than some to-do list apps and more robust than a pad of paper, WorkFlowy is task and project management at its finest.
2. Timer Tab
Ever been tasked with a project so big it made you feel like you want to throw up your hands and eat a pizza instead? Me too. But most of the time, it's the scope of the project that keeps you paralyzed rather than the actual difficulty of the individual tasks at hand. Timer Tab helps set your productivity light to green (aaaand Go!) if you’re procrastinating or pushing off a project or to-do list item. What is it? Simply put: a timer.
Breaking your goal down into small, timed tasks (and taking breaks in-between) is an excellent way to manage your time and break up big hulking projects into more manageable chunks. Knocking out 10 minutes of work at a time can seem a little easier than fretting over the hours of work ahead.
Bottomline: For anyone who’s experimented with the Pomodoro Technique, Timer Tab is a quick and easy option for timing tasks.
Limitless is a Chrome extension that logs where you've spent your time online. It's a little like having an accountability buddy for your online time. Beyond keeping you honest about your Reddit browsing hours, the tool also offers features like a notepad to tally ideas and a section to set goals for the day (and year). Bonus: Limitless tracks your info on an appealing browser background. It's a simple yet effective way to manage your time and your tasks without opening a separate application.
Bottomline: For anyone who’s ever used the Momentum Chrome App, Limitless offers a similar experience with a few more features.
Open offices are becoming the norm for startups and companies, but sometimes you just need a little rain and thunder to drown out the sound of all the creative ideas being thrown around. Noizio provides basic ambient sounds to transport your mind to a land far removed from the office chatter.
*Warning* Empty your bladder before turning on. There are many rain cloud sounds.
Honorable mention: Coffitivity, a sound app for ambient cafe noise.
Pocket is an easy bookmarking app that integrates easily into Chrome.
Pocket’s a little like a security blanket for the curious link clicker in us all. Instead of falling prey to the link bait, you can save links to your pocket account and organize links for later reading. The real beauty of Pocket is the wealth of reads you build up for your commute home.
Bottomline: When you don’t really have time to go through all your new finds, Pocket them. When you feel the call of yet another WSJ article, resist the link sinkhole... Pocket it.
Tabs. Oh, those tabs.
I’ve had enough tabs open to freak my computer out to the point of digital revolt. I also have a very real fear of closing tabs that “I’ll eventually read.” People, eventually never comes.
OneTab is a Chrome app that funnels your tabs into a single list of links. 20 tabs open and you need to exit all? Breathe easy - click OneTab button and all your tabs are saved into your OneTab account. You can even lock and save tab lists for later browsing.
Bottomline: Every time I close a tab-laden browser it feels like I’ve defeated the Loch Ness monster of unproductivity – multi-tasking. Take that, tab hoarding habit. You lose.
7. Hemingway App
Sometimes you have too little to say. Sometimes, you have a little too much. Hemingway App keeps writers honest (and direct) by scouting for passive voice and overly complicated sentences. Adverbs don’t stand a chance.
Bottomline: It’s not the end all be all for editing content, but Hemingway App can help guide any content creators who want to tighten up copy quickly and get moving onto other projects. It can also keep you clear and direct when crafting for company content and the likes.
8. BONUS (kind of)
We showed up with 7 contenders, but the standout winner of the bunch is the productivity tool(s) you actually use.
We all have different (beautiful) brains! That means no one tool will work for everyone and no single tool can solve all productivity woes. Give each tool a trial period (the very best apps come with the opportunity to play around with the service), but keep Kafka in mind when making your productivity app decisions. You want to stick with the apps that help open up opportunities rather than distract from the tasks at hand.
So go forth - produce! And use online tools to keep your wits (and your sanity) about you while you’re at it.