Ten great tools to increase productivity in the new year

We all want to be more productive, and with a new year underway, there is no better time to commit to making the most of your abilities using our top ten tools to increase productivity.

For the most part, these apply to any discipline, so it doesn’t matter if you want to improve your output as an office worker, a student, or a freelancer. Also, we’ve tried to include a mix of apps and more practical tools to increase productivity along the way.

1. Google Keep

To do lists are one of the easiest and most effective tools to increase productivity. At their heart, they are exactly what they sound like: a list of the most crucial tasks you need to complete today. That’s right, the first spot in this article has been commandeered by to-do lists. There’s a bit more to it than that, though. It matters how you plan on organising your Google Keep to-do list and that you prioritize your work properly. Does an assignment have to be finished today? Then that’s top of your list.

2. StayFocused

This particular app is an extension for the Chrome web browser, but you can find similar apps and extensions tailored for other browsers. StayFocused is a fantastic tool for the easily distracted. If you spend more time checking out your social media or watching cats fall off window ledges on YouTube, this could be the app for you. Enabling it simply blocks those sites for an allotted period of time, while allowing you to access websites pertinent to the task at hand.

3. Noisli

Remember that episode of The Simpsons where Homer tried to lull Marge to sleep with the soothing sounds of the sea (pirate noises and seagulls included)? We’re pretty sure the developers of Noisli do. Perfect for those in a loud work environment, Noisli allows you to create a soundtrack of background noise to block out the sounds of the home or office. You can tailor your own soundboard, depending on what works best for you.

4. Awareness

As the saying goes: “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” Modern corporate thinking tends to agree, though it tends to look at it more in terms of bad posture, failing eyesight, and RSI. There are many break timer apps around that flash a message on your screen every half hour or so telling you to take a break. Awareness is less intrusive. You set the timer and, when the time passes, you are reminded to take some “me time” by the gentle tolling of a Tibetan bell. Take five, stretch your legs, and come back refreshed and ready to work.

5. Hemingway

If you spend a lot of your time writing, then Hemingway is an invaluable productivity tool. Whether it’s a school assignment, a blog post, or a corporate white paper, the readability of any document is essential. Hemingway is a free online checker that will point out errors in spelling and grammar (including the dreaded passive voice) and tell you how to improve it.

6. Audible

Who doesn’t love a good book? By signing up to an audio book service like Amazon’s Audible, you can listen to books during a busy commute, even if you’re behind the wheel. While listening for pleasure is proven to spark your sleep-addled neurons into wakefulness, you can up the productivity ante by listening to non-fiction works relevant to your field.

7. Pocket

Another distraction avoidance app. Unlike StayFocused and its ilk, Pocket allows you free access to the Internet (essential for many occupations) but, if you come across an article of personal interest – Ten Great Tools to Increase Productivity in the New Year, for instance – you can click the Pocket icon and it will save and store the item for you to look at later on. Part bookmark, part archive, it’s a great way to keep on track.

8. Evernote

On of the best note-taking apps around, Evernote has the notable benefit of syncing itself across all of your connected devices. This means that you can take notes at home, or during your commute, and have them all there ready for you when you hit the office. Unlike some note applications, Evernote isn’t restricted to just text. You can record audio notes, attach photos and other media, bookmark relevant websites, and even set reminders for yourself.

9. Asana

Whilst we’re all responsible for our own productivity, if you’re a project manager or team leader, you may also be responsible (at least in the eyes of your company) for other people’s. Asana is an online project management tool that allows you to set goals and deadlines for the various members of your team, so that no one is in any doubt about where they should be at any point in the project’s lifetime. It has the look of a social media platform with threads under each topic to discuss the team’s progress and the ability to share files and data – ideal for teams that include remote workers.

10. ScanMarker

The ScanMarker is a hand-held OCR scanner that can fit into most pockets or purses and is the ideal productivity tool. By swiping the ScanMarker over a line of print in a book, magazine, or newspaper, the device converts it into digital text. We’ll allow you that little shrug you just gave, as we haven’t explained the implications fully.

This digital text can be used in dozens of different applications, either built-in to the scanner itself, or on your own computer. This means that you can have you ScanMarker read text back to you or copy it directly into a document. You can translate to and from foreign languages (again, either as text or speech). Direct and accurate quotes can be taken in seconds – perfect for journalists, bloggers, and students. Legal briefs, doctors’ notes, contracts and student essays that you receive as hard copies can be scanned and converted into a Word document for your electronic archive, rather than be retyped by hand. Researchers and archivists can transfer swathes of old texts to a digital collection, with accuracy and efficiency. Better yet, with the ScanMarker Air, you can do all of the that with the added benefit of Bluetooth connectivity between the scanner and your phone or other mobile devices.

We hope that you’ve enjoyed this list of tools to increase productivity, and that you will make the most of them as you head deeper into 2019. For more information on the ScanMarker and the ScanMarker Air, get in touch with us today.

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