Productivity Tools for Everyday Life

I would characterize myself as a highly productive person.  I am a morning person, I have never hit the snooze button in my whole life, and I bounce out of bed ready to go each day.  I am productive almost as a detriment to myself; with a Fitbit step goal each day of 15,000 it is sort of self-defeating in how easily and quickly I can do many things at the same time.

I’d been perusing another blog discussing tools and behaviors that could make our lives easier and more productive.  Some I have also used, and while not all work for everyone, almost anyone can benefit from at least one of them.  One article I found mirrors some of my own ideas.

1. My calendar app – I used the calendar app on my cell phone almost every day.  I log every appointment and set myself reminders, from “remember to mail package” to “remember not to take usual route home” when I know there will be construction.  I use it to remember to give my dogs their monthly Heartguard pills, it notifies me of paydays, hair appointments and of course, birthdays and anniversaries.

2. Fitbit alarms – I have often been at work and missed taking care of something because I was away from my desk and missed the Outlook alert.  Like Bert in Sesame Street tying a string around his finger, my Fitbit will vibrate and remind me that I have something to do.  Works like a charm, even when my phone is locked in my desk.  My Fitbit is also my morning alarm, it wakes me up silently and has never failed me.

3. Trello app – This is a multi-person app (available for free) that allows a group of users to create lists that can be accessed and edited by anyone.  This is great for grocery lists and to-do lists.  It means that if my husband is stopping on his way home for groceries for the list we made the night before, I can think of something else we need, add it to the list and he will see it there when he gets to the store and pulls it up.

4. Google Drive – I used Google Drive to help me maintain access to the things I need when I am away from my primary laptop at home.  From there, I can upload spreadsheets, pictures, video files, projects or anything else and then have access to them on my work computer or my cell phone.  This has saved me on school projects as well as personal ones.  In addition, my entire catalog of personal photos is stored there in case my computer bites the dust.  It also means I can pull up those embarrassing elementary school photos of myself at any time to text to my sister to give her a laugh!

5. Pictures – My husband laughs at me, but I use the camera on my cell phone all of the time to remember what I need to do.  Whether it’s taking a picture of the box of light bulbs so I buy the correct ones at Lowes, or taking a picture of the ingredients on something so I can log it later into my calorie tracker, it prevents me from forgetting details.  At the end of the day, I usually have a few pictures on my phone to clear off that have been there to serve such a purpose.

6. Email labels/filter rules – I have both my personal and work email set up with a multitude of labels and rules to assist me in being able to prioritize effortlessly.  Different levels of priority go to different places.  Informational items are filtered to a specific folder that I don’t even go to unless I need something.  It spares me from scanning and sorting as things come in, and ensures that the things I need are always in the same place.

7.  Having boundaries/saying no – This is the best friend to anyone who wants to be more productive.  We can’t do everything.  Knowing when your plate is full and when to say no is important.  I have 24 hours in my day (minus the 7 hours I give myself to sleep, which also fuels my productivity), and I cannot do anything about that.  Some things can wait and some things can just not be done, and that is okay.  You cannot please everyone, so take that foolish thought out of your head right now.  Decide what is important to you, and stick to that.  Don’t let the distractions of life get you off the course of your ultimate vision!

Most important of all is flexibility.  Sometimes when I find myself getting hampered down by my own rigid expectations I am reminded of the Ralph Waldo Emerson quote, “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.”  Adapting to changing needs is important, and when one way of doing things becomes ineffective, change it.