Brace yourself! Today I’m going to share some powerful productivity apps that I’ve recently discovered that are helping me to make the most of my limited work time this summer.
Summer. To say that I’m less productive during the summer months would be the understatement of the century. As a work-from-home entrepreneur, the struggle to stay productive is REAL right now. The kiddos are home full-time through mid August. Even though they’re both almost teenagers, the majority of my day is devoted to meeting their needs (for transportation, entertainment, meals, etc.).
Of course, this translates into significantly less time that I have to devote to work. At the beginning of the summer, I realized that if I have any hope of tackling the tasks on my work-related to-do list, I need to up my productivity game, BIG TIME.
Eliminate distractions. Increase Focus. This has been my summer mantra.
Along the way, I’ve discovered some powerful apps that have really helped to set me on the path to productivity nirvana. Let me introduce you to three of them today.
PRODUCTIVITY APPS – #1 KILL NEWSFEED
It’s a universally accepted fact that Facebook is a major time suck. If I could avoid it altogether during my workday, I would. But the fact is that Facebook is an integral part of my business as a blogger, so there’s no way of avoiding it.
But when I hop on to create a post on my blog’s Facebook page, or to attend a scheduled Facebook live blogger training session, I often find myself getting lost in the vortex of my personal Facebook newsfeed. After all, how could I possibly not share that adorable Facebook memory that popped up from 4 years ago?
When a blogging colleague mentioned in passing that there’s a Chrome extension called Kill Newsfeed that blocks your newsfeed on your desktop computer when you log into Facebook, I couldn’t install it fast enough. Yep. It’s just as life-changing as you imagine it would be.
You can still check your messages and notifications, post status updates, and do everything you could do before. You just don’t get access to the distracting news feed posts anymore. This was HUGE for me, my friends!
PRODUCTIVITY APPS – #2 FOCUS BOOSTER
It seems that the more work tasks I have on my plate in a given day, the more I tend to jump frenetically from one task to another, losing focus as my brain has to constantly shift directions. This is a seriously inefficient way to work. And these days, I just can’t afford to be inefficient.
I knew it was time to dust off a tried and true productivity booster…the Pomodoro Technique. In essence, this technique forces you to focus for short periods of time (usually 20-25 minutes), with built-in breaks (5 minutes) between focus sessions. The focused time blocks encourage you to complete tasks more quickly, and the frequent breaks help your mind to stay fresh.
Yep, you COULD use a regular ol’ kitchen timer to implement the Pomodoro Technique. But of course, there are apps out there that make it easier (and more convenient if you happen to be in the local coffee shop and don’t have access to a kitchen timer). The app I’ve been using for this purpose is Focus Booster.
Focus Booster offers up a simple Pomodoro timer, with sliders that you can use to tweak the length of your own focus periods and break times. But wait. It gets better.
With Focus Booster, you can also track the time you spend on specific projects or tasks. You can also run reports to view your progress.
In the desktop app (which is what I use exclusively), you have the option to display a thumbnail-sized version of the timer that floats on top of your screen so that you can have the timer in view at all times, but out of the way:
I can’t even begin to describe how much my productivity has soared as a consequence of using the Pomodoro Technique combined with the the Focus Booster app. The mere presence of that tiny countdown clock at the top of my screen prompts me to stay focused on the task at hand, instead of flitting around from one tab to the next (leaving a sea of unfinished tasks in my wake).
PRODUCTIVITY APPS – #3 BRAIN.FM
Maybe you’ve heard of Brain.fm, or similar apps that offer up audio tracks specifically designed to help you focus. I’ve avoided these apps because I typically find background noise/music distracting when I’m doing work that requires highly focused attention.
But given that’s it’s the summer of productivity experimentation, I went ahead and signed up for a free Brain.fm account to test it out.
If I didn’t experience it for myself, I would have never believed it.
I was pleasantly surprised at how energized and focused I became while listening to several of the FOCUS playlists. Listening to the music induced a kind of trance-like mental state that helped me to tune out everything except for the task directly in front of me. I found the music to be most effective when I listened to it via headphones or earbuds (vs. just pumping it out of my laptop).
Brain.fm uses all original music across a variety of categories. I tried just about every category. Strangely I worked best while listening to the electronic music focus option (I anticipated this type of music to be highly annoying, but I was wrong). Of course, everyone’s different, so you’ll need to find the focus soundtrack that works best for you. As a side benefit, the app also helps to facilitate relaxation and sleep, and who doesn’t need a little help with that?
Moral of the story — If you’re struggling with productivity during the summer months (or any time of year for that matter!), why not give one of these three powerful productivity apps a try?
Got another productivity app that has been life-changing for you? Please share!