How To Increase Your Productivity By Using One Word

how to increase your productivity

Everyone strives to increase productivity and be more successful in their careers pursuits.

Along this journey, you may seek out helpful tools that range from time-managing strategies to expensive business and motivation seminars.

Ultimately, you will be able to find a few strategies that work and a few that do not.

However, finding simple, costless ways to increase your productivity are a much better investment of your time.

One effective and costless way to increase your productivity is through your vocabulary. Sometimes we neglect to realize that even something as simple as the words we use when accomplishing tasks can make a huge difference.

According to psychologist Leslie Sherlin, there is one word in particular, which can transform your productivity in miraculous ways; that word is “done.”

We associate accomplishment with the word done, and we associate accomplishment with feeling productive and successful. Simply saying the word after you have completed a task can allow your brain to release small amounts of serotonin that will keep you motivated and hyped for the tasks that lie ahead. Also known as the brain’s “feel-good chemical,” serotonin helps you relax in a way that will benefit the efficiency and quality of your next assignment.

For those who have demanding jobs that sometimes require hours upon hours to complete one task, this strategy may seem largely irrelevant. Fortunately, there are many strategies you can implement to help break those tasks into smaller mental segments. This will help you keep focused without becoming worn out and will give you many more opportunities to utter the magic word, “done.”

Several strategies can be taken to reach this breaking up of large tasks, but there are three that are particularly useful: taking micro-breaks, working in smaller segments and creating a visual breakdown of the overall task.

  1. With micro-breaks, you are allowing your brain the proper resting time it needs in order to work long hours. Try saying “done” before and after every micro-break to give your mind that small serotonin boost it craves.
  2. Working in smaller segments allows you to place more immediate focus on individual aspects of your tasks. This will make you more detail oriented and give you just the right amount of opportunities to say “done.”
  3. Finally, creating a visual breakdown of your overall tasks will alleviate the stress of forgetting about a crucial element. Check off each task as it is completed and give yourself a well-deserved “done.”

Add this strategy to your toolkit on how to increase productivity and give yourself that boost in productivity you’ve been craving while simultaneously saving your wallet any damage.

5 Ways to Stay Motivated at Work

stay motivated at work

A lack of employee motivation is something that most employers have to deal with on some level. However, a company can only offer so many opportunities and a limited amount of attention to its employees.

It is up to you to find ways to stay motivated at work and to make the most of what you have. Here are a few tips to help with that.

Take A Break

If your job involves mundane or repetitive tasks, then schedule short breaks at regular intervals to break up the monotony.

Taking a break can also help you sustain momentum when you are working on something that interests you. If you run into a wall with ideas on a project you enjoy, then take a break and come back to the assignment after a bit. You will develop a renewed perspective and develop ways to get past your creative block.

Maintain Your Focus

The Fast Track is a career blog from Quickbooks that reminds us that multi-tasking is not the best way to stay motivated.

People who take on several goals each day find themselves spread too thin and are often unable to achieve any level of success. After a while, trying to do too many things makes you feel like you are accomplishing nothing at all.

Instead narrow your focus and among other things, develop one significant goal each day and concentrate on reaching that goal. You can stay motivated when you feel like you are getting significant tasks done each day.

Utilize What You Do Best

Fox Business suggests that utilizing your strongest skills to get your job done can help you feel more involved in your work. Take the time to write down a few skills that you have and then find ways to integrate those skills into your work. If you’re great at being organized, then work on a way to better organize your (or your team’s) daily work and you will find that it inspires you to succeed.

Remember Why You Are There

The Business 2 Community website points out that every job has a purpose and you can enhance your motivation by remembering why you are being asked to do your job in the first place.

Your daily tasks may not seem significant to you because you engage in them every day, but they are important to making sure that the company generates revenue and also for delivering products/services to customers.

Put your job into perspective and it will help you to remain motivated.

Take The Time To Appreciate A Job Well Done

Each day you undertake many small tasks. For example, you could be preparing a stack of invoices to be processed, but have you ever stopped to realize how important that is?

No matter how big or small the task, your company relies on you to prepare those invoices and you have developed a track record for completing your work accurately and on time. At the end of each day, remind yourself of the job you have done and make sure that you give yourself a little pat on the back for putting in yet another valuable day for your department/company.

Best of the Web: Become Outstanding, Multi-task Properly, Setup an Ideal Workspace, Dare to Disagree and Sleep Better

outstanding leadership and management

This Million-Dollar Advice Will Make You an Outstanding Leader

“Earlier this month I was with a group of global experts who regularly consult with the most successful entrepreneurs and leaders both in small growing businesses and Fortune 500 companies. We were preparing for the Million Dollar Consulting Convention, hosted by the rockstar of consulting himself, Alan Weiss, and I realized I had to ask everyone for their No. 1 piece of advice so that I could share it here.”

Dare to disagree

Most people instinctively avoid conflict, but as Margaret Heffernan shows us, good disagreement is central to progress. She illustrates (sometimes counterintuitively) how the best partners aren’t echo chambers — and how great research teams, relationships and businesses allow people to deeply disagree.

When Multitasking Makes You Happy and When It Doesn’t

Would you be happier if you spent an hour juggling emails, meetings, and data analysis, or if you spent that hour focused only on data analysis? Which would you enjoy more: a Saturday spent bouncing from running errands, to cooking an elaborate dinner, to playing with the kids, or a Saturday dedicated solely to playing with the kids? In short, how does variety among one’s activities influence happiness? Our research tackles this fundamental question.

How A 15-Year-Old CEO Is Bringing Eyesight To Those In Need

Lillian Pravda is the CEO of Vision for and from Children, which helps people without access to vision care. Pravda is also just 15 years old, and her organization has already provided eye care to more than 24,000 people.


9 Ways To Turn Your Desk Into The Ideal Workspace

“Your workstation should fit you like a tailored shirt,” says University of California ergonomist David Rempel. “If I come to your workstation and you’re six inches taller than me, it shouldn’t fit me.”

Better Sleep, Naturally

The world looks very different at 3 a.m. when you’re lying in bed staring at the ceiling or the clock. “How will I make it through tomorrow without any sleep?” you worry.

Why Listening to Music at Work Makes You More Productive

listen music productive work

If you’re like me, sometimes you put on your headphones to drown out your neighbor’s chatter. But now research is showing that music is not only good for staying focused, it also increases your productivity and decreases stress levels.

Unfortunately, not every workplace is supportive of having their employees wearing headphones. But now that a study shows that 65% of business workers were more productive while listening to music, maybe your boss can be swayed by its value.

Music is Good for Business

A study for Psychology of Music led by Teresa Lesiuk focused on a group of computer information system developers. In order to gather data, Lesiuk measured how listening to music affected an employee’s time on a task and the quality of work. Not only do the results on productivity speak for themselves, employees also reported more creative thinking and lower stress levels.

In today’s open office environments, there are endless distractions to keep you from producing high quality work. So with research showing that 73% of warehouse workers and 65% of business workers could be more productive when listening to music, perhaps headphones should be more common at the workplace.

But if your workplace is not music friendly or you don’t know how to get started, these 5 tips will help you increase your productivity by listening to music.

  1. Can I Listen?

Because wearing headphones at work may have an image of laziness or distraction, make sure it’s ok for you to listen to music. Simply ask your boss and let him/her know why you want to listen to music.

  1. Test Your Music

Not all music makes you more productive. So make an effort to test how different selections of music change your work habits. If you find a certain style of music distracting you at work, try something different.

  1. Go Instrumental

Although no one is the same, you might be able to maximize your productivity by using music that doesn’t have lyrics. Lyrics can be distracting when at work especially if you are dealing with words.

  1. Don’t Drown in Sound

Since you’re part of a team, make sure you show your face around the office. Don’t isolate yourself under your headphones.

  1. Organized Listening

If your job is busy, try to schedule in some music listening time for batches of creativity and productivity at work. Try listening to music while doing computer based tasks that are not collaborative.

Do you use music to make yourself more productive at work? How do you do it? Share your experience in the comments below.

Perform Better at Work by Forgetting About Work [career assessment included]

work life balance

If you’re like me, you’re constantly looking for new productivity tools, tips, and tricks to hack your way into better performance on the job. But what if the secret to getting better work performance was to focus less on work and more on other aspects of your life?

Researchers are showing that those with a better work-life balance might actually be more productive than their workaholic counterparts.

According to professor/author Stew Friedman, people have four domains in life – work, home, community and self. When people make minute changes in one of these domains they can actually see drastic shifts in their whole lives. So if someone changes something that improves the quality of their home life, for example, their performance at work could simultaneously improve.

But even though the benefits could be immense people often shy away from change. They might fear losing something they have, be guilty about making a change or ignorant to its potential benefit.

The following tips can help you better balance the four domains of your life and consequently improve your performance at work.

  1. Take a quick assessment: This will help you see if you are focusing on which domains (work, home, community and self) important for you and also provide some suggestions for changes. Click here to take the assessment.
  2. Make changes manageable. Instead of trying to institute a big change in your life, make it small at first. Instead of trying to always eat healthier start with just a few salads every week.
  3. Discuss the changes with the people it will influence. If you want to start meditating for example, tell your spouse about the plan and which time of day you prefer not to be disturbed. You can also outline the benefits they might likely see from your new action.

Although you might not believe that your work performance will improve by better balancing different parts of your life, the statistics show that it most likely will.

As individuals begin focusing on their community, family, and self domains instead of so much on work, their work performance and satisfaction actually go up. But if you’re curious why performance at work goes up when attention on it goes down, these reasons will help clarify it for you.

  • You will focus on results that matter.
  • Less energy will be wasted on unimportant activities.
  • Because you’re better dealing with other parts of life, you’re less distracted at work.
  • Benefits spill over from one domain to the next, resulting in more confidence and a better mood.

Do you agree that focusing less on work can actually improve your performance? Share your thoughts in the comments.

8 of the Best Productivity Apps / Tools You Can Find

productivity apps

January is always the perfect time to start fresh and make yourself several dozen promises that you may very well never keep. However, you have the power to make this year different.

The following are 6 of the best productivity apps that you can find. These apps can aid you in sticking to your resolutions and boosting your productivity throughout 2015.

1. Refresh

This app will allow you to network like never before. Refresh finds similarities between you and the people you meet. By synching popular online services like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Gmail, Refresh allows you to review past interactions that you may have had with that executive that will be at your meeting tomorrow. It will even send you notifications to remind you to browse the app before your big meeting. This app does all of the research you always wish you had the time to.

2. Evernote

Evernote is a modern workspace that allows you to be productive no matter where you are or what time it is. Evernote will allow you take notes of various formats and lengths, get organized by creating separate notebooks for separate projects, access your work from any synced device, collect photos and web articles you find and keep up with to-do lists. When you download Evernote, you are opening yourself up to a platform where you can let ideas flow and success build in an organized and accessible way.

3. Contactually

Contactually is one of the best productivity apps for those of us who promise ourselves that we will catch up with old colleagues or friends. By putting your contacts into “buckets” and setting how often you would like to follow up with each group, Contactually will create follow-ups for you and inform you of how long it has been since you have communicated with someone. On top of it all, you can create templates for meeting follow-ups, holidays or special occasions that will allow you to have one less thing to worry about.


IFTTT lets you create connections across the web with a simple statement: If This Then That. This app allows you to create recipes with over 160 different channels. According to IFTTT, your “This” is a trigger and “That” is an action. You can create what they call a “recipe” that will complete your desired action. For example: If I am tagged in a photo on Facebook, then send me a text message. These simple recipes can aid you in the upkeep of your web presence both internal and external.

5. Sunrise

If you think that your current calendar app does it all, you are sorely mistaken. Accessible from any synched device, you will never miss a meeting, Facebook event, birthday or get lost heading to an obligation ever again. With ability to tag locations, Sunrise will show you Google Maps directions to where your next meeting or lunch date is. The interface is easy to use and is great for prioritizing your events.

6. Calendly

This is a nice productivity app to avoid the back-and-forth that happens when trying to setup meetings. You enter your schedule and availability preferences into the app. Then share a link with colleagues, clients, etc. who can select a time that suits them as well.

7. Asana

A Basecamp-like productivity app, Asana will help you coordinate on projects and tasks to get them done more effectively and efficiently. This app allows you to create tasks and to-do’s quickly, communicate with your team directly (without email), track due dates, organize your task list and complete work on-the-go from any connected device. It is like Basecamp 2.0.

8. Sleep Cycle

Sleep Cycle analyses your day, what you eat/drink and your sleep patterns, to provide useful data and recommendations. Worth a try to improve your sleep quality and wake up feeling refreshed.

Great Career Tips, Books, Travel Destinations & Apps For 2015

2015 career work books travel apps

At the start of a new year it’s common to see articles which list the Best of XYZ for 2015.

I thought I’d join the herd and put together a small ‘list of lists.’

So here are a few nice lists I came across, with useful information for the workplace and outside of it as well.

Here’s to a great 2015! May it be the best year yet!

Steps in Running Effective Meetings at work

how to run effective meetings

Effective meetings. We all want those don’t we?

If you’re like most employees, your schedule is at least 10 percent meetings.

There’s the meeting with your investors, where you’ll likely be grilled about your performance. There’s the weekly department sit down where updates on new projects happen. And don’t forget the lunch date with potential clients, where you’re to put your best game face on.

In fact, it may be argued that every business process starts with a meeting.

But depending on how they’re run, meetings can be great productivity tools or colossal time-wasters. Done correctly, a simple 30-minute chat can produce brilliant ideas. At worst, a well-intentioned conference can sidetrack to a disgruntled employee’s rant, idle chitchat, or a comprehensive discussion about something interesting yet low priority.

So how to ensure that meetings accomplish what they’re meant to accomplish? Consider the following:

Decide what you want to accomplish ahead of time.

Effective meetings must have concrete goals; that is, there’s something specific you want in your hands before you declare “adjourned.”

Your goals decide the agenda, the people to invite, the materials to be brought, the time allocation, and sometimes even the place where the meeting should take place. It informs how a facilitator should control discussions, and what participants should include and exclude in their input.

Do you simply want to gather feedback? Then set up sufficient time for everyone to have their say. Or do you want a final decision at the end of the day? If this is the case, discern ahead of time how the decision is to be made. Is it by majority vote? Then you need comprehensive presentation of scenarios. Is it an “If-then” call after careful study of financial statements (e.g. if profit margins is less than X, then we have to delay this project)? Then the decision rule must be agreed upon beforehand, otherwise you’ll end up wasting time debating formula.

Rule of thumb: if an activity is not relevant to the meeting’s objectives, then it should be parked for another day.

Do what you can to prepare everyone beforehand.

It’s not unusual for meetings to drag because of the need to level everyone on the information needed before further processes can push through. This is especially so if attendees come from different divisions, disciplines, and even companies. But while it’s recommended for meetings to start with everyone on the same boat, it’s also helpful to do away with some of the information dissemination process before the meeting starts.

A simple strategy that many meeting organizers procrastinate on: emailing participants relevant reports ahead of time, highlighting the bits and pieces pertinent to the agenda, and opening opportunity for questions a few days before the sit down. While this may seem like a time-consuming process, it’s actually time-saving in the long term. Imagine a “Where is that provision again?” after which others would have to wait while relevant provision is pointed out and the unprepared reviews it for the first time? If everyone is leveled off on information they need even before walking through the door, things will proceed a lot more efficiently.

It’s the same with sending out survey forms beforehand. If you know that a decision can’t be made without a reliable gauge of how others would feel or think about it, then do the information gathering as early as possible. If you wait to go to the supermarket before making a list of what everyone needs, there’s a good chance you’ll forget to buy something. Similarly, attempting to make an informed decision with incomplete information kinds of defeats the purpose, doesn’t it?

Put limits on your politeness.

Okay, I don’t mean that you have to start being rude!

Effective meetings are controlled; and seasoned facilitators can control a meeting without participants noticing the steering. But even if done smoothly, control means assertiveness. You may have to cut someone’s talk short, or even declare a suggestion as off-topic. You may have to say “a final decision has been made” even though there are others still protesting. And you may have to take the unpopular job of party pooper (I know of so many meetings cum beer-drinking sessions) to ensure the meeting remains productive. If you can’t assert yourself for fear of offending others or rocking the boat, then you should be prepared for the discussion to go on the wayside.

Less I be misinterpreted, assertiveness is polite. “That’s very interesting Richard, and am sure we can all benefit from looking at your suggestion closer, but I think it’s best to finish our earlier discussion before we open a new one. Is everyone else okay with this?” Another approach is to appeal to your group’s sense of time. “Am sure you all have urgent tasks you had to set aside to attend today’s consultation. So let’s make the most of this meeting. We only have one hour, so it’s best to stay focused.”

Lastly, come up with “Action Items.”

A meeting that went well is still useless unless it translates to actual results. So don’t adjourn until you have concrete “where do we go from here?” statements.

Should there be a follow-up meeting to monitor the status of the project? Who is assigned to do what, and when should they complete their assignments?  How will the group know that everything is proceeding according to plan? What’s the control plan to ensure that no one falls behind? Get all these questions answered before you say adieu, get commitment statements, and ensure the meeting secretary has all promises in the meeting minutes everyone has to sign/delivery-on later. Amnesia is not uncommon after meetings, but there are ways to ensure that what happens within closed doors doesn’t remain behind closed doors.

I hope these tips help you conduct more effective meetings and save you a whole lot of time/effort!

Mobile Apps that Increase Your Effectiveness

iphone android apps productivity effectiveness work

If you’ve yet to own an app smartphone or a tablet computer, uhm, where have you been? I’m just Kidding.

Of course, the straightforward just-text-and-call phones are still good, especially if you have simple needs that make multi-functionality a burden. But you may just be missing out on applications that can make you more effective, both in your job and your personal life. It might be worth considering updated technology for value-laden conveniences.

Below are some areas of effectiveness where mobile apps can be useful. Because of the many sources of apps to cover, with each store typically compatible with just one operating software, we’ll not discuss all the available apps under each list. But you’re encouraged to start checking what your app provider has for you, whether for free or for a fee.

Project Management Apps

Not all of us are skilled in project management; in fact, if you’re like most people, you get lost trying to track your different undertakings. And this is where project management apps can help.  Project management apps remind you of tasks, schedules, resources, budget requirements, point persons, accountabilities, and in some cases, pre-requisite communication channels. Some project management apps are for individuals but others can be used by teams.

Consider Project Planner HD made for iPad. If you’re a fan of Gantt charts, a tool for monitoring project schedules, this app can make your life simpler. There’s also Project Schedule Free, offered by Google Play for Android users, and yes, as the name says, it’s free. You can also check out Nozbe for iPhone which can help you manage remote teams wherever you’re located.

File Hosting Apps

Ever had moments when, just when a document you’ve worked on all day is finished, boom! Your hard drive crashed and you don’t have back-up anywhere. Or maybe you’re in the middle of a business trip when a client starts demanding immediate revisions to his contract, but all your files are in your office PC. In both these cases, you wish you can just pull copies of your documents from the cloud.

Well, you can. There are many cloud storage apps that ensures you have access to your files wherever you may be. Some storage apps even allow editing by multiple users, in case you need to collaborate with your team mates remotely.

Popular file hosting apps include Dropbox, Google Drive, and DropSync.

Relationship Management Apps

In most industries, the ability to create and maintain solid relationships spells the difference between failure and success. If you’re a marketer for example, you need to be able to keep track of your leads in order to not miss out on a prospect. If you’re foreman in a building construction, you need to have a ready list of suppliers and workers to ensure that the project proceeds on schedule. Even if you’re just an independent provider, you need to dig your well before you’re thirsty.

And this is where relationship management apps come in. Unlike the typical Rolodex, relationship management apps synchronize every address book you have: from that in your email to your phonebook to your social networking profiles. It points out who your top contacts are and reminds you of potentials slipping through the net. Contactually is an example of a relationship management app that works this way.  Other relationship management apps go one step further by allowing you to send automatic emails to people in your contact list, view contacts’ activity on social networking sites, and collate public information about those in your network.

Time Management Apps

This one needs no explanation; if you want to be effective, you need to be able to use your time wisely.

The App store offers Focus Time, a productivity tool that applies the Pomodoro technique: a time management method that divides tasks into 25-minute chunks, allowing for greater focus. Clockwork Tomato and Pomodoro Timer for Android also work the same way.  You can also check out Toggl Online Timer, which helps you keep track of where you spend your time. Just be prepared, you might get shocked at how many hours you’ve invested in time wasters!

Idea Generator/Organizer Apps

Great projects stem from great ideas, but sometimes creativity needs a bit of nudging. And this is where idea generator/organizer apps are for. Not only will these apps help you generate new designs for something that has got you stuck for hours, they can also assist you in thinking through a potential solution. The best idea generator/organizer apps don’t just let you jot down random thoughts, they also help you devise a way to act on your otherwise unstructured musings.

MindNode and MindMeister are examples of brainstorming apps based on the concept of Mind Mapping.  You can also consider Creative Whack Pack which aims at snapping you out of your customary ways of thinking, so that you can come up with something out of the box. If these all sound complicated, IdeaDeck is an idea organizer that’s simply the equivalent of electronic post-its. Don’t knock it down before you’ve tried it, many a good idea came from those little yellow squares!

Make Your Goals Smarter Than SMART

We all set goals. We set personal goals such as loosing weight, or saving more money, or getting a new job. We set business goals or they are set for us by our boss – goals such as increasing sales, increasing productivity, or cutting costs. Frequently however, these goals are not achieved and that’s because they are not sufficiently concrete.
Vague goals are more an aspiration than a goal – they are a desire or a wish that do not have concrete expression.

However, there are those who do set goals and nearly always achieve them. People like Richard Branson of Virgin Atlantic or Steve Jobs from Apple – when they set goals, they do so in a compelling way that motivates them and others to achieve them. So what is the difference between goals set by people like Branson and Jobs, and those goals that are not achieved? The difference is positively and concretely stated SMART goals and starting with the end in mind.

Many people have heard of SMART goals, but unless you understand how to make SMART goals concrete, compelling and motivating, they still may not be achieved. So we have to make goals smarter than just SMART by making them concrete and positively stated.

Making SMART Goals Smarter

S is for Specific, Simple, and Sensory-based. An achievable goal needs to be defined as precisely as possible – what exactly is it you want. Write it out in simple terms and in terms of who, what, where, when and how. It should be stated in the positive as something you want rather than as something you don’t want – if your goal is something you don’t want, ask yourself what you want instead. A goal is sensory based when it is expressed in terms of what you can see, hear and/or feel.

M is for Measurable. How will you know when you have achieved your goal? Expressing your goal specifically, simply and sensory-based (as above) will greatly help with this. When you have achieved your goal, what will it look like? What will it feel like? What will you hear? How will you know you are half-way to achieving it? How will you know you are a quarter or three-quarters way to achieving it? What measures will you put in place?

A is for Achievable and Action. Is your goal achievable? Is it within the realms of possibility? If the achievement of the goal is not completely within your control and you need others to do something, concentrate on what you need to do to get them to respond in the way you want (this may be a separate goal to pursue simultaneously or prior to your original goal). Also, if your goal is too big, it may need to be split into smaller goals to achieve it. For any goal to be achieved, action must be taken (more on this below under “T”).

R is for Realistic and Resources. A realistic goal is “do-able” and within your skill-set and available resources. Do you have the resources to achieve it? These resources may be internal or external to self. If you require other resources first, attaining them becomes a prior goal. One way to check for the required resources is to ask yourself what is stopping you from achieving it right now?

T is for Timed and Take Action. An achievable goal must be timed – it must have a deadline. When do you want it? When will it be achieved by? When a goal is timed it adds a sense of urgency to it. Most importantly, to achieve a goal, you must take action. Remember the old Chinese saying that a journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step – well, to achieve your goal, you must take action – you must take the first step to achieving it.

Start with the end in mind

Making your goals smarter will make them more compelling and will build the motivation required to achieve them. Developing a SMART goal enables you to begin moving towards achieving that goal whilst bearing the achieved goal in mind. Starting with the end in mind not only keeps you focused and motivated, but will also have your mind open to all opportunities that may assist in the achievement of your goal.

So if your life goals are still dreams, if your career goals are just not happening, or if business goals are not been achieved, restate them in a smarter way and start with the end in mind. Then take the necessary first step. Go for it!