A New Beginning: A Personal Story of Minimalism and De-cluttering Bootcamp

Minalimism

This is a story about minimalism and how it relates to productivity and happiness. At LightArrow, we often provide tips for becoming productive, organizing your life and living a happy, stress-free existence. We regularly remind our readers that they can be productive by doing less. Seems counterintuitive, right?

Simply put, everything you own or bring into your life must be cleaned, stored, fed, trimmed, serviced, refilled, watered, powered, etc. You get the picture. Taking care of all this stuff takes time and effort. The more possessions you have, the less time you have to enjoy life. Consequently, minimalism translates into more time to dedicate to you — not your stuff.

Today, I’m sharing my personal journey with you. Over the last three months, I shed more than half of my belongings; sold a house in less than a week; and moved from the booming and rapidly growing city of Austin, TX to the beautiful town of Boulder, CO, which is located at the base of the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.

Why Boulder?

My husband, a seasoned veteran in high tech, was presented with an exciting and fulfilling job opportunity in Colorado. With careful consideration, we decided to embark on this journey after 10 years in Austin, TX. As they say in Texas, this is not our first rodeo. We’re practiced movers, as we’ve lived in the Silicon Valley, Portland Oregon and other cities.

Everything’s Bigger in Texas

My personality is eclectic, with the unusual combination of right-brained tendencies with an affinity to logic, organization, order and consistency. I’ve always considered myself to be deeply organized. Everything has a place in my home, usually neatly labeled, stacked, grouped and color-coded.

What I didn’t realize until preparing my house for sale was there were nooks and crannies in this 4467 square foot, 1.24 acre home that contained unorganized messes that were pushed away like an ex boyfriend. Out of sight. Out of mind. The more space you have, the more you use. Something had to be done – and fast.

It was December 2014 that we decided to put the house on the market. It officially went up for sale on January 29, 2015 and was sold five days later. Prior to sale, a considerable de-cluttering and organizing journey was completed within 6 – 8 weeks (which would take most folks a year). How did we do it? I’ll get to that.

Embracing Minimalism

Over the years we accumulated lots of stuff. Frankly, stuff we don’t need. For me, shopping was always a form of recreation – an escape mechanism, retail therapy or a pacifier for a bad day. There was always a good excuse to buy a new pair of shoes.

I’m making the transformation. I’m on a journey to continue to shed many of my unnecessary possessions that burden me to focus on healthy and fun life experiences. I’m not saying that I will have only 50 or even 100 total things and live out of a backpack. I’m not saying that I won’t replace things that no longer work with new things. This is unrealistic for my family’s lifestyle, but the change is still profoundly significant.

Now, I find myself repeating this mantra, loosely quoting Voltaire or Stan Lee,

With more stuff there must also come great responsibility.

With any purchase there is prodigious consideration to the responsibility of owning it and its effect on the environment.

The Storm Before the Calm

If you’ve ever worked in the startup world, you know that deadlines can be crazy and you sometimes have to make the impossible, possible. This is exactly what we needed to do. Apply the startup mentality to what I would call “extreme de-cluttering, purging and organizing.”

I wouldn’t suggest this swiftness to the faint-hearted. Without a deadline, these steps can be spread over several months or even years, depending upon your urgency. It can be emotionally and physically exhausting.

You might ask. Does de-cluttering and organizing ever actually end? For now, the flood of activity still continues, but the urgency has diminished. Essentially, I’m now basking in the satisfaction of a job well done — “the calm.” However, maintaining the lifestyle continues.

The Roadmap

A good plan is like a road map: it shows the final destination and usually the best way to get there. -H. Stanely Judd

By now, you’re probably wondering how we accomplished this transformation. First, I started with a SMART goal and then prepared a plan or roadmap.

SMART Goal: Achieve a non-cluttered and minimalist home environment with focus on a quick home sale within 4 – 6 weeks.

Time is money. Every day a house is for sale, you’re losing money. In order to reach this goal, we built a plan to get there. We recorded every task imaginable including repairs, painting, purging, organizing, cleaning and staging. We also established a budget and arranged the finances.

What Were the Rules?

We decided if we haven’t utilized a household or personal item in 5 -10 years, it would go. Exception – photos, things bonded with the sentimental and snow skis. Some items were easy to purge. For example, how many laptop bags from trade shows does a person really need? And some items were difficult — a basketball signed by Magic Johnson and a Schwinn almost-vintage bike? My husband wouldn’t budge on those. Some battles aren’t worth fighting.

Road to Success

We tackled the house room-by-room and started with the most cluttered and noticeable rooms with emphasis on the home sale. For example, we started with the great room and ended with the attic. We cleared countertops, removed personal items and stowed and grouped items. If you want to learn more about organizing and grouping, visit If You Want to be Organized, Learn This One Simple Concept.

Every night after work, I scheduled hours on my calendar dedicated to these tasks. We spent sixteen or more hours every weekend. My family moved away a month before I did, so I tackled much of it alone. Like I said, this plan is not for the faint-hearted. This was de-clutter bootcamp.

myhouse

Photo from Sotheby’s Reality

We divided everything among donate, trash, recycle, sell and give away. What wasn’t sold was given away. After approximately 30 SUV-loads of items purged, we achieved the clutter-free environment for which we had hoped. As a small example, I donated 100 pairs of shoes and fifty percent of a three-tiered closet of clothing to Goodwill. We dug deep.

How and Where Did We Get Rid of All This Stuff?

If you wish to embark on this satisfying but challenging journey, the essential places, websites and apps are listed below:

A garage sale or yard sale is also a good option. If you’re on a tight deadline like us, a yard sale might be unrealistic because of time constraints. And don’t forget to ask your friends if they want your stuff. Your trash can be someone else’s treasure. It’s amazing what they’ll take. For example, a friend who manages several rental properties took our cleaning supplies and other items that were prohibited by the moving company.

How Do I Feel Now?

It’s heartwarming and satisfying to sell (at a very low price) and give away things that you don’t use or need. The hugs and appreciation that I receive are gratifying beyond belief. We’re now living comfortably in a house that is half the size of the previous home. We are almost unpacked and we continue to donate and purge items daily. The environment is non-cluttered and feels peaceful. We know where everything is and the work involved in maintaining the home is next to none.

What I learned

If you’re someone who’s just starting out and entering the “acquiring years,” take this advice seriously. When you have too much stuff, it weighs you down. It negatively affects your energy level. It doesn’t allow you to have the time you need to get things done and experience life like you should. I feel as if a weight has been lifted – a monkey off my back. For example, I have the freedom to take a hike with the dogs after work instead of raking leaves out of the pool or sweeping the patio. Your time is priceless — guard it.

I honestly don’t miss those things and I don’t think I ever will.

Please Share Your Experiences with De-cluttering and Minimalism

We would love to hear your experiences with de-cluttering and minimalism. Please share or write a post.

5 Business Tips for Right-Brained Marketing and Media Professionals

Media-Professional

Independent media and marketing professionals, such as video producers, website developers, activists, journalists, graphic designers, editors, copywriters and others who manage small media businesses face specific challenges. Managing a client base, expenses, payments and projects are just a few of the many details that independent media professionals manage daily.

Typically, independent media professionals are right-brain dominant, meaning they excel in creative disciplines; but can be less analytical and organized. Generally, left-brained individuals run businesses while right-brained individuals focus on creative endeavors. When right-brained types are presented with thoughts about time management, the classic response is negative. Organization and time management feels claustrophobic, neat and controlled. Essentially, it’s tedious to them.

However, anyone with an entrepreneurial spirit must focus on the logistics of running a small business because it greatly affects the bottom line. The business details can’t be ignored or failure is inevitable. The good news is I truly believe it is easier to train a right-brained type to better organize time and details than it is to teach a left-brained type to be more imaginative and innovative.

Today’s post focuses on some of the details that independent media and marketing professionals should manage and track. It also includes tips about the apps and applications that can be used for tracking and managing these details.

Track Appointments and Events

Sometimes right-brained types have trouble keeping track of commitments, such as appointments and other events. Essentially, they can have a tendency to get engrossed in project work and forget about an important appointment with a potential client.

When independent media professionals use a smartphone and the right productivity apps, these types of mishaps are less likely to occur. The stock calendar app provided on a smartphone is a great place to start; however, there are more comprehensive apps that can display events from multiple calendars and also provide more bells and whistles. Right-brained types are typically very visual so I would recommend a calendar app that has a variety of calendar views; color coding of events; a daily agenda; reminders and audible and visible notifications.

The daily agenda shown here is a great example of how to easily track appointments, events and other details for the current day, the following day and the next seven days — all at a single glance. It also color-codes the types of items on the calendar and if external calendar items are included, it color-codes events from those calendars, as well.

Media Professional Agenda

Manage Tasks and To Do Lists

A to do list can greatly improve time management and the number of things that get done every day. Keeping tasks and to dos in your head is a great way to suffer from brain overload. Media professionals need to free their brain from the tasks and to dos that are floating around so they can focus on creativity and the project at hand.

The best way to manage tasks and to dos is with a digital to do list (rather than a paper list). Below are some of the reasons:

  • Re-prioritization – depending on the digital to do list app, re-prioritization is usually as quick and easy as a tap and drag action.
  • Sharing and Collaboration – a digital format makes sharing and collaboration easy. It’s nearly impossible to share a paper list with someone who’s not at the same location when you’re delegating or sharing tasks.
  • Reuse – Paper lists and sticky notes are for one-time use only. Digital lists can be re-used.
  • Search and History – Completed tasks or to dos that are written on paper or whiteboards cannot be searched for history purposes. One they’re erased, they are lost forever.
  • Mobility – Your smartphone is compact, always with you – and ready while on the go.

The image here shows an example of a digital to do list that can be easily prioritized, shared, searched and reused.

Media Professional To Do List

Manage Projects and Deadlines

When flying solo or with a small team it’s just as important to manage your projects and tasks, as it would be with a larger traditional team. Sometimes a digital to do list is enough for a project, but for more complex projects or if you’re working with multiple clients, a meatier project management solution might be necessary.

It’s important to know what’s required of you from your client and when the tasks are due. You might be a right-brained type, but you can’t always wait for the right time to get things done. Clients demand that projects are delivered on time.

Gathering your client’s goals, determining the scope of the project, understanding the budget, knowing the resources that are available to you and defining your strategy are all necessary when project planning. You must also understand how the client defines success of the project. Once all of these items are defined, break the project down into small, manageable chunks – in the form of a series of tasks.

It’s not necessary to use heavyweight software. Gantt charts and complicated project management systems might be excessive. Generating a series of tasks with deadlines for a project and the ability to associate supporting information might be all you need. The image here shows a task with supporting information.

Task Manager for Media Professionals

Track Clients, Record Client Requirements and Build Relationships

Customer Relationship Management is an important part of managing a small media or marketing business, but organizing the information about clients can be difficult and cumbersome – not only for right-brained types – for just about anyone.

When running a small business, generally you get a feel for when it’s the right time to start implementing customer relationship management software. For example, is managing clients starting to feel out of control? How do you keep track of your top clients? How do you manage information about your clients that’s important to you? How do you track follow-ups with your clients? What state of the sales cycle are your contacts currently in? How do you manage client requirements? All of this and more can be managed through CRM software.

In the following image, you can see that the app below tracks the items mentioned. Top clients are tracked through groups; custom information is tracked via custom forms (i.e. Customer Satisfaction); state of the sales cycle is tracked through the status; client information is tracked through notes; and client follow-ups are tracked through the contact log.

CRM for Media Professionals

Track Income and Expenses

Many independent media professionals count on 1099s, bank deposits, bank statements and credit card statements to track income and expenses. It’s a good idea to track income and expenses using a spreadsheet or other software apps or applications in addition to these other methods to ensure the accuracy. This way, when you do your taxes it will be easier to understand what your income was and how much you spent to run your business. In the app below, expenses are easy to track and they can be divided and organized by category.

Expenses for Media Professionals

Also, in the same app, notice that you can keep track of a list of transactions to get a handle from whom your deposits are originating and your total income. This is a great way to double check that your bank deposits are correct.

Income for Media Professionals

 

An All-in-One App for Independent Media Professionals

Wouldn’t it be great if I told you that all of the images above were collected from one all-in-one app? LifeTopix is an all-in-one app that allows you to manage all of these details in one place – and all of the information is naturally connected. In addition, it doesn’t require monthly subscription fees like other apps and applications. You can find it at the Apple App Store.

Freelance Writing Organization: Spreadsheets, Money, and Pretty Colors

 

Freelance Writing

Guest Author, Sulagna Misra, talks about challenges with organizing her writing schedules and deadlines as a freelance author. More on the author below.

I got a check in the mail today! It was great until I realized it was for two different invoices — #5 and #7, which means I wasn’t being paid consecutively. I checked past checks and saw I had been paid for invoices #1 and #4. I double-checked the excel spreadsheet where I keep track of all these payments – blue stands for published and paid, orange stands for published and unpaid, etc. – to highlight the correct ones. The spreadsheet is more orange than blue, and also contains a huge patch of red – the color of stuff I should be working on.

Admittedly, most of those things are blessedly free from deadlines. And it took me forever to get to that level of red – in the beginning I did not even need a chart to keep track of my work, because I would work on one essay at a time. After it would publish I would agonize over the fact that I had nothing in the pipeline and spend the next few days pitching ideas and letting my anxiety and fear fuel me. Would I ever write again? Was that last essay my final hurrah?

To my shock, this has yet to be the case. In part because of my anxiety, I now have a wealth of editors to pitch to and a long list of essays to write. The problem was that my mind had yet to catch up with my work. I had left my job in August to work on writing full time and it took me until this past dark wintry February to realize that while I had a lot of work I needed to be doing, I would wake up in the morning still unsure of what my schedule was to be that day. Usually I would keep a cluster of notes on an essay before taking the day of the deadline to finish the piece and send it to the editor. I still do this, but at the time it had become unsustainable, as I realized when I had three deadlines for three articles due on the same day. I had to email each editor to ask for more time, and while it worked out fine in the end, I realized I needed more organization in my life.

First, I needed a writing schedule that staggered out my deadlines, anticipated that I would gain work in the future, and gave me an idea of what I needed to accomplish each day. And while I am an anxious person, I’m also very much about looking for any available possible opportunities both in terms of interesting people and interesting work, so my days could be quite nebulous – I wouldn’t know when I would get edits on a certain piece, or hear back about a pitch and either have new work or want to pitch the idea elsewhere. I bought a notebook and created and drew in my own schedule for these things, creating a weekly agenda but with two extra columns: one for what happened beyond my to-do list that would factor into future to-do lists and another for interesting, fun things: having a piece published, finishing a book or watching a TV show, making a new connection, even hearing a nice comment or seeing a friend. The last column was to appease my anxiety — when I felt unproductive or like a failure, a gratitude column gave me a way to put things in perspective.

Second, I reorganized the aforementioned excel spreadsheet. I separated 2014 and 2015, separated what was already published and what was in progress, and made note of what exactly had been paid. After a muddle with invoice numbers, I always checked to see what each check was paying for, and noted when I received them. (I already deposited them immediately through my bank’s mobile app, though. I don’t understand people who wait! It’s your hard-earned money! How can you stand waiting for it?) I’m still waiting on one outlet to pay me – if I don’t get a check this week they will get a flurry of stern emails – but I always feel calmer when I know the rhythms of how a place pays me, even if it takes two months. Yes, I know they all have to pay me, but it’s the same problem as the Anxiety of the Final Essay – if they have yet to pay me, I wonder if they’ll ever pay me.

Third, after reading a particularly horrifying article on how a writer’s clips disappeared from the internet as the sites they worked at went defunct, I archived all my past clips. It was beyond time to do so, anyway – I had enough clips that I couldn’t easily ramble off each one I’d written anymore. I also created subfolders in my “Freelancing” folder, putting invoices and articles and notes in a folder marked with each outlet. It isn’t yet perfect – I still have random documents floating around in that folder – but it’s given me a system to stick to from now on. Now every week, I take about fifteen minutes and update my website (http://sulagnamisra.com) with newly published pieces.

And fourth, I kept track of the money. On the advice of my family’s accountant, I went back through my cards and bank accounts to note my taxable spending in January, February, and March, in order to gear up for paying my first freelance balance in April. I’ve decided to spend about fifteen minutes a week on that as well. I also created sections in my work spreadsheet so I could sum up how much money I had made and could expect to be paid and how much money I could expect to make in the future based on my in progress projects.

I am so, so grateful to my system now, as it saves me a lot of worry and has helped me figure out steps to prevent unneeded stress and burnout from excessive work. Unfortunately, it has also given me the time and mental space to think of new projects. So I might end up creating five, six, or seven more points of organization in my life.

 

Sulagna Misra, in her own words, is “a freelance writer in New York. She also draws, reads, blogs, reblogs, edits, journals, scribbles, and watches things, like TV and gifs and the bug that just ran across the floor, ahhh!!” Sulagna Misra on Twitter.

How to Easily Print and Generate PDFs in LightArrow Apps

 

Printable Calendar Agenda

If you’re not familiar with LifeTopix, it’s an all-in-one productivity app for business and life available at the Apple App Store. With LifeTopix, you can organize and plan just about anything in your busy life. You can manage projects and tasks, make to do lists, take notes, manage files, make grocery lists, track finances, plan services, manage contacts, track assets, create events, plan travel, manage education, track health and much more.

One of the unique aspects of LifeTopix, is the ability to print agendas, to do lists, checklists, tasks, asset reports, notes, grocery lists and more. Today’s post shows you how to get the most out of the printing features of your LifeTopix app.

Printable Calendar Agenda

Knowing what’s on your schedule today, tomorrow and the next seven days is key to getting things done on time. That’s why LifeTopix includes a unified agenda with your to do lists or checklists, reminders (LifeTopix and iOS) and calendar items (LifeTopix and iOS) all in one easy-to-read view as shown below.

LifeTopix Printable Calendar Agenda

LifeTopix Printable Calendar Agenda

You can easily print your agenda by tapping the icon that’s indicated in the above graphic in the upper right corner. After you choose “Print,” you can choose whether you want to print in Portrait or Landscape mode. Next, LifeTopix asks if you wish to save the Agenda to the My Documents folder. When you save the file to My Documents, it becomes available for use as a PDF. You can now associate this file with many items in your LifeTopix app, such as projects, tasks, contacts and more. An example of  a printable agenda is shown below.

LifeTopix Printed Agenda

LifeTopix Printed Agenda

Tapping the icon in the upper-right corner in the screen above allows you to share, print or open the document in a different app.

Printable Asset Reports

One of the unique features of LifeTopix is the ability to keep a list of assets that you own or lease. In fact, you can use LifeTopix’s asset features in a variety of ways. For example, real estate agents use assets to track home selling details for their clients.

In LifeTopix, assets hold a variety of information. For example, an asset may include manufacturer, model, SKUs, serial number or VINs as well as other information. Assets also include categories, purchase dates, last updated dates, statuses and optional context tags; in addition, assets can be sorted, organized and printed by these categories.

The images below show an ungrouped and grouped list of assets in the LifeTopix iPad app. The grouped assets are organized by category, which in this example is “For Sale,” “In Contract,” and “Sold” for a real estate agent’s properties. These statuses are flexible and defined by you.

LifeTopix Ungrouped Assets

LifeTopix Ungrouped Assets

LifeTopix Grouped Assets

LifeTopix Grouped Assets

Once you display these assets, you can generate an asset report in portrait or landscape mode by tapping the icon at the bottom left and choosing Print as shown above. Just like the Agenda view, you can choose to save the report to your my Documents folder or go directly to the print button to print the asset report, open it or share it. Examples of the uncategorized and categorized reports are shown below.

 

LifeTopix Ungrouped Printable Asset Report

LifeTopix Ungrouped Printable Asset Report

LifeTopix Grouped Printable Asset Report

LifeTopix Grouped Printable Asset Report

Printable To Do Lists and Checklists

One of the most valued features of a to do list app is the ability to print the list, but this feature is not always available from the single purpose apps that you find at the Apple App Store. LifeTopix includes wide-ranging checklist and to do list capabilities in the Notes + Files, Lists topic. You can prioritize, print, re-use, add due dates, copy, and export your to do lists and checklists. In addition, you can convert these lists to “Pro Checklists” in order to add tasks, appointments, reminders, activities, nutrition, health stats, medication and wellness entries to a list.

An example of a LifeTopix checklist for a real estate agent is shown below.

LifeTopix Printable Checklist

LifeTopix Printable Checklist

Printing a to do list is simple. Tapping Actions -> Print as shown above displays the checklist and gives you the choice of saving it as a PDF if you wish. An example of the printed checklist is shown below.

LifeTopix Printed Checklist

LifeTopix Printed Checklist

Tapping the icon in the upper-right corner in the screen above allows you to share, print or open the to do list in a different app.

Printable Tasks

The LifeTopix Tasks + Projects gives you the ability to organize, enter, prioritize, track and check off even the most complex projects and tasks in a natural, streamlined and easy-to-understand way. An example of a task list for a real estate agent’s project is shown below.

LifeTopix Task List

LifeTopix Task List

Sometimes, you might want to print out a list of tasks for a project. The best way to print a list of tasks for a project is to follow the steps outlined below.

  1. Tap the Tasks + Projects topic.
  2. Locate the Projects tile and tap it.
  3. Locate the project that contains the tasks you wish to print and tap it. Tip: Use the Group By filter to help you locate the project if you have many projects.
  4. Tap the project to open it.
  5. Tap Actions -> Print. Once again, you’re given the option of whether or not you wish to save a PDF to My Documents.

An example of the printable task list is shown below.

LifeTopix Printed Task List

LifeTopix Printed Task List

Tapping the icon in the upper-right corner shown in the screen above allows you to share, print or open the task list in a different app.

Printable Grocery Lists

Often times, many users of grocery list apps would like a printable list, but it’s not available from all apps. A printable grocery list comes in handy if you wish to easily give a spouse, family member or coworker a shopping or grocery list. You can generate shopping lists in the Shopping + Gifts topic of LifeTopix. The following image shows a shopping list that was generated for a trip to India. As shown, you can simply tap the Actions button and easily print the list.

LifeTopix Printable Grocery List

LifeTopix Printable Grocery List

The list appears as shown below and tapping the icon in the upper-right corner allows you to share, print or open the shopping or grocery list in a different app.

LifeTopix Printed Grocery List

LifeTopix Printed Grocery List

Printable Notes

The Notes + File, Lists topic in LifeTopix includes powerful note-taking, drawing and note organization features. It also includes features for managing online files from Dropbox™, Google Drive™ and OneDrive™ and syncing online notes from Evernote® and Toodledo. LifeTopix’s built-in and extensive note-taking features include printable notes. An example of a LifeTopix note created by a real estate agent to hold client’s requirements is shown below.

LifeTopix Printable Note

LifeTopix Printable Note

Like other objects in LifeTopix, you are able to easily print a note, as shown above. An example of the printed note is shown in the following image. Tapping the icon in the upper-right corner (below) allows you to share, print or open the note in a different app.

LifeTopix Printed Note

LifeTopix Printed Note

Accessing Your PDF Files

When you save your files to the My Documents folder as described previously in this blog post, you might want to access them later in order to associate them with objects in your LightArrow app or for viewing purposes. For example, you might want to associate a checklist with a project.

To locate your saved files, perform the steps below:

  1. Tap the Notes + Files, Lists topic.
  2. Tap Files and then tap the plus sign.
  3. Tap Folder and then tap Local Files.
  4. Tap the information icon next to “File.”
  5. Then tap My Documents. A list of your local files is shown. See the image below as an example.
LifeTopix Local Files List

LifeTopix Local Files List

After you locate the file you wish to work with:

  1. Choose View to see the PDF or choose Select to add it to your list of files.
  2. In the New File view, tap Save.
  3. It is now included in your list of files and you can access it by tapping the File tile in the Notes + Files topic.

Now that you’ve added the PDF as a local file, you can associate it with LifeTopix objects (assets, events, goals, notes, projects, etc.) directly from the object itself or from the file as shown below (Associate Topic or Associate Contact).

Associating PDF with LifeTopic Item

Associating PDF with LifeTopic Item

In addition, all files saved in the My Documents folder can be shared via AirDrop, sent via text message, opened in other apps (such as Dropbox, Box, Adobe Reader etc.), by tapping the icon in the upper-right corner as shown below.

Sharing and Printing Local PDFs

Sharing and Printing Local PDFs

More Options

In LifeTopix, printing is available in many more views, such as the detailed views of trips, contacts and more. In fact, the LightArrow team is constantly improving the print support.

Please Comment

I hope this post gives you a general overview of the printing capabilities of LifeTopix. If you have any questions about LifeTopix or its printing capabilities, feel free to comment on this post below.

Write For LightArrow – Become a Contributor

Become a Contributor

Do you love to write? If you’re a productivity or LightArrow app enthusiast – especially with experience in Real Estate, Property Management, Freelancing, Parenting, Contracting, Small Business, CRM, Recruiting, Media, Medical or Fitness, we invite you to write for us.

WRITE FOR US – ARTICLE IDEAS

We’re looking for articles written about your experiences with LifeTopix or other LightArrow apps and how our apps have changed your life. We’re also looking for non-promotional articles about productivity, personal and business success, life management, sales productivity and organizing.

BEFORE SUBMITTING, PLEASE READ THE FOLLOWING

  • Contribution is voluntary; however we make exceptions for those with a very significant, engaged social media and blog following.
  • Contributors must have an engaged social media and/or blog audience and have a history of writing great content. Please send a link to your blog or other samples of your work. Exception – those who write great stories about our apps will be considered without a social media /blog following.
  • Links back to contributor’s site will be limited to the biography and they will be nofollow links. Our focus is great content for our audience, not link building. Content written for SEO purposes only will not be accepted.
  • Articles must be unique (not published elsewhere) and high quality. They must be free of spelling and grammar errors.
  • Please include a biography and photograph (or link to photograph).
  • We reserve the right to edit your post for spelling, grammar and readability.
  • Please keep content to fewer than 1000 words. Between 400 – 600 words is ideal.
  • You have the right to copyright your article; however, LightArrrow retains the right to publish and share it. If you provide images, ensure that you have a license to use the image or provide proper attribution.
  • You must provide content in Google Docs, Pages, text or Microsoft Word format.

HOW TO SUBMIT

Submit a guest article/post by emailing your article, along with your byline to marketing [at] lightarrow.com. If you prefer, send an email prior to pitch your story. Please make the subject of your email: LightArrow Guest Contribution.

10 Secrets of Highly Productive People

Productive PeopleTo some, it’s a mystery why many people are driven to action, while some people have a difficult time getting things done. Research indicates that genetics might play a role in motivation (specifically for exercise); however, there are secrets that productive people know that keep them in the fast lane. Keep in mind, these methods can be adopted by just about anyone.

If you want to get more done, without jeopardizing your health or well being, get to know the secrets of productive people that we’ve outline for you today.

1. Productive People Establish Routines

A routine is a daily recipe or roadmap — a guide to follow every day the same way. Productive people, who are juggling work, school, children, a household or other obligations, follow a daily routine. A daily routine is essential for becoming efficient and productive.

Productive people first establish a routine for the simple things, such as brushing their teeth and making their beds; then they make routines for more complicated activities, such as making a to-do list each morning for work or school that outlines each day’s obligations.

Why it Works

When you establish a consistent schedule, you’re less likely to encounter the unexpected. Unexpected activities are the things that slow you down. For example, imagine you can’t find your keys in the morning. If you have a routine of placing your keys in the same place every evening, you’ll know where to find them every time. The action becomes automatic.

2. Productive People Use Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence (EI) is a type of social intelligence that involves the ability to monitor one’s own and others’ emotions, to discriminate among them, and to use the information to guide one’s thinking and actions (Salovey & Mayer, 1990).

Some researchers believe that Emotional Intelligence is innate, while others believe it can be developed. To improve EI, take note of others’ body language, voice patterns and other verbal and non-verbal cues as to their state of mind and feelings.

Why it Works

People who use Emotional Intelligence information make better decisions based on emotional information from themselves and others. Emotional Intelligence can be used to prioritize life tasks, problem solve, and to lead and communicate effectively.

Comprehending and recognizing your own emotions can motivate you to work toward the accomplishment of your goals. Understanding the emotions of others helps you empathize and prioritize by taking into consideration emotional cues. For example, when making decisions regarding tasks that are important to complete at work, considering management’s feelings can guide you in the right direction.

3. Productive People Read Books

In the modern days of on-demand television, online books, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, reading books might appear old-fashioned and passé. However, highly productive people never stop learning, and they make time to read books — regularly for leisure and for learning. Books provide a new perspective and allow individuals to escape.

Why it Works

There are several productivity benefits of reading books. Reading provides stress relief, improves vocabulary, improves sleep, keeps your mind sharp and improves focus.

Making reading a nighttime ritual can set you up for a good night’s sleep, which increases productivity. However, make sure that your reading material is made from paper because lights from electronic devices actually inhibit sleep. Light exposure before sleeping suppresses the hormone melatonin, which promotes sleep.

4. Productive People Listen to the Beat of Their Own Drum

Everybody is different. Some people are morning people. Others are not. Some like to work in spurts, while others keep a steady pace throughout the day. Some like to work in a quiet room, while others thrive in a busy coffee shop.

What’s important is knowing what works for you. Keeping a diary of productive times and places helps you harness the power of your own rhythm and personal style.

Why it Works

Self-awareness is the ability to have an understanding of your personality – and in this context, your work style. Becoming aware of what works and doesn’t work empowers you to alter behavior to set yourself up for success.

5. Productive People Work With Passion

Productive people wake up each day with a passion for their life and work. Their day gives them meaning and purpose and they cherish every moment of it. They’re motivated by their goals and the tasks they’re taking to accomplish them. Passion doesn’t come naturally; productive people go out and search for it.

Steve Jobs once said,

“Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me. Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful, that’s what matters to me.”

This doesn’t mean that you should immediately quit your job to pursue your passion of becoming a golf pro or polo player. It’s important to love what you do — not necessarily to do what you love. Focus on what is meaningful about your work and you’ll feel satisfaction from it.

Why it Works

Those who feel truly successful are proud of the work that they’ve accomplished. There’s always something to feel good about at work — appreciate your achievements. Being delighted about your accomplishments motivates and encourages you to keep going.

6. Productive People Don’t Let Others Tell Them What They Can’t Do

Limitations are something that unproductive people know well. Self-imposed and external limitations squash productivity. Productive people don’t let others hold them back from the greatness that they can achieve. They see their goal and keep going no matter what others might say.

Don’t let the naysayers impose limits on you. Distance yourself and keep your eye on the prize.

Why it Works

It goes without saying that focusing on the positive, rather than the negative fosters success and productivity. Those who focus on the goal and are passionate about it are likely to achieve it.

7. Productive People Practice Self-Restraint

Self-restraint is one of the most difficult practices to achieve, and learning self-control is challenging for many. Productive people know that limiting temptations, such as time wasting activities, can lead to enhanced productivity.

It’s important to recognize when self-restraint is an issue. Keep a diary of wasted time. There are practices that can help you learn self-control. Software and apps can block and limit distractions. Practicing yoga and meditation increases self-awareness and control. Eventually, self-control becomes automatic or a habit and it comes naturally.

Why it Works

Reducing time-wasters, such as television, video games, unhealthy snack breaks, etc. shifts attention to the important tasks at hand. When self-control is no longer an issue, focus becomes easier and time becomes free to do the things you really want to do — without guilt.

8. Productive People Experience Life

People who are productive get out of their comfort zone and experience all life has to offer. They crave new experiences, travel, pursue education and socialize often. Every new life experience is an opportunity to learn something new. Powerful, exciting and new life experiences provide important memories that people reflect upon for years.

Why it Works

It’s simple. Interesting life experiences foster joy, learning and contentment. Happier people work harder and are more productive. Productive people make better decisions based on past life experiences — whether those experiences are good or bad.

9. Productive People Say “No”

One of the most important skills to learn is to say, “no.” Management consultant, educator and author, Peter Drucker, once said,

“Efficiency is doing the thing right. Effectiveness is doing the right thing.”

Productive people know when requests don’t align to their personal goals or professional goals. They understand how to prioritize and which tasks and activities to focus on. They know what can be deferred or ignored. They know when it’s the right decision to say “no.”

Why it Works

When time is limited and demands are insurmountable, prioritization becomes more important than ever. Saying yes to everything wastes time, sacrifices quality of work and can be overwhelming. Learning to say no to meetings, invitations and projects that don’t move the needle is hard to do, but advances productive people to meet their most important demands.

10. Productive People Schedule and Record Everything

Do you get anxiety about forgetting your daily obligations? Many of us do. Holding too many items in our heads creates excessive stress and anxiety.

According to studies, most people are only able to remember three to four things in the mind at once. If you’re the average person and not a master of memory, use a paper calendar or mobile app to manage schedules and obligations.

Why it Works

Recording commitments, ideas and goals ensures that you won’t miss appointments and other obligations, but also reduces the anxiety associated with forgetting those items. A reliable mobile calendar or personal organizer provides you with audible and visible reminders to keep you on track.

Your Turn

What are your secrets for success, motivation and productivity? Please comment and share!

Real Estate Professionals and Property Managers – LifeTopix is for You

Realtor

Most REALTORS®, Real Estate Agents and Property Managers are road warriors – constantly on the go with ever increasingly busy schedules. Wouldn’t it be great if an app could help them find more time in the day? It’s possible with the LifeTopix app from LightArrow.

Real estate professionals often use devices such as iPhones and iPads to search for listings, to communicate, and to stay productive. Great news. The availability of useful mobile apps for these professionals is becoming more widespread as mobile devices gain popularity, making their lives easier.

Many LightArrow customers are real estate agents and property managers. Many use the LifeTopix app to manage and consolidate their busy schedules, contacts, service providers, documents, and more into one place. In fact, because such a large number of LightArrow’s customers are real estate professionals, LightArrow is planning to implement a solution customized for them using the LightArrow App Engine.

This post focuses on what the LifeTopix app offers real estate professionals today, and how these professionals are using the LifeTopix app to organize and manage their schedules, business information, and more.

What LifeTopix Provides for Real Estate Professionals Today

Real Estate Professionals are using LifeTopix every day to manage the following items (and more):

  • Open Houses and other Events – Plan open houses and other events.
  • Checklists – Create home selling or buying checklists and share checklists with clients over email.
  • Properties – Manage a list of properties with specific details through LifeTopix Assets.
  • Calendar – Stay on task and on time.
  • Consolidated Appointments and Reminders – Events and reminders from the iOS Calendar and Reminder apps are consolidated into one place.
  • Location Services – Plan showings by location.
  • Passwords and Private Information – Keep track of usernames, passwords, and secret text such as security and gate codes.
  • Document Management – Easily organize and retrieve documents stored in Dropbox, Box, Google Docs, and OneDrive.
  • Information Management – Gather information from multiple channels (email, social, web, and more) and make that information actionable.
  • Expenses – Keep track of marketing, entertainment, travel, or other expenses.
  • Contacts – Keep track of clients (custom statuses, contact logs, custom forms, alerts, and more).
  • Service Providers – Keep track of title companies, Escrow companies, lenders, inspectors, general contractors, real estate investors, handymen, etc.

All of these items are naturally connected throughout the app; therefore, it’s not necessary to enter items over and over again as in disconnected apps.

Keep reading to see examples of how the LifeTopix app can help real estate professionals in the above areas.

Planning Open Houses and Other Events

Keeping track of details when conducting open houses and other events can be challenging for real estate professionals. With LifeTopix, they can create a LifeTopix Event and invite prospective buyers to the open house via email within the app. The app makes it easy to keep track of responses and communicate with invitees, as shown below.

LifeTopix for Real Estate - Events

LifeTopix also makes tracking details for events easy. For example, when an event is created, all information associated with the event can easily be connected with it; making it easy to find the important information.

Keeping Track of To-dos Through Checklists

Keeping track of to-dos, open house checklists, maintenance lists, and other items such as client “must-haves” for a new home is easy with LifeTopix. For example, real estate professionals can keep track of items that they and a seller must complete before an open house event occurs. Real estate professionals can easily create and share checklists. These checklists, shown below, are printable, reusable, sortable, and shareable via email.

LifeTopix Checklists for Realtor

Tracking Properties

It’s important for busy real estate professionals and property managers to track details for the properties they’re buying, selling, or managing. In LifeTopix, real estate professionals keep track of property details through the Home + Assets topic.

Within an asset, real estate professionals can record seller details, purchased cost, current values, manufacturers, models, mapped locations, and context tags. They can also associate tasks, appointments, reminders, notes, checklists, files, bookmarks, expenses, services, audio recordings, photos and videos to the property asset.

With these associations, for example, when an appointment is added to an asset, the details of the property are automatically associated with the appointment (which displays on the calendar). This makes it easy to find all the details of the property in one place.

An example of an asset created for a property in LifeTopix is shown below.

LifeTopix Assets

Managing Appointments and Reminders

LightArrow understands that real estate professionals juggle a mountain of appointments and tasks. LifeTopix provides them with versatile calendar views for their iPhone or iPad. It helps real estate professionals manage showings, meetings, projects, to-dos, reminders and more all in one view, saving valuable time.

LifeTopix also includes a printable daily agenda and day, week, month, and year views – configurable to individually show or hide events, such as appointments, tasks, trips, projects, checklists (to-do lists), notes, and items from the iPad or iPhone calendars.

With LifeTopix, the real estate professional can effortlessly switch to and from views and easily search for any data item. Calendar item types, events and items from different calendars are differentiated by colors, as shown below, making it easy to take control of a busy schedule.

LifeTopix Calendar

Many real estate professionals use a task management app or checklist app, the iOS reminders app, and the iOS calendar. LifeTopix is integrated with the iOS calendar app – resulting in a calendar that unifies all the calendars that the iOS calendar supports (Google calendar, Outlook, etc.). Furthermore, LifeTopix integrates with the iOS Reminders app and it also includes built-in task management and checklists. With LifeTopix, all of this information is combined into one view – giving the real estate professional one-tap access to what’s important to him or her today, tomorrow and in the near future. This is all combined into their daily Agenda view, as shown below.

LifeTopix Agenda

Better Plan the Day with Location Services

With LifeTopix’s location-based view of appointments and other items, real estate professionals can better plan their days based on the locations of showings, closings, meetings, and other appointments.

The built-in map automatically picks up the appointments that are on the radar within a radius that they specify. In addition, the real estate professional can pick the types of items that show on the map. For example, they might wish to view appointments, but not contacts. They can easily choose this option through the picker that’s made available in the Near Me view. An example of the Near Me view (with the picker open) is shown below.

LifeTopix Location Services

Remembering Passwords and Private Information

Real estate professionals are required to keep track of multiple passwords for several online sites and private information such as security codes for properties. LifeTopix includes a secure password manager, password keeper, and private information organizer with strong, military-grade 256-bit AES encryption for usernames, passwords and any private notes, photos and audio. This feature helps real estate professionals find this information easily and securely, while on the go.

Managing Documents and other Files Such as Photos

Real estate professionals manage several different types of documents and files including marketing flyers, contracts, photos, and more. LifeTopix works with several cloud services where documents are stored, which allows these professionals to associate documents with items (such as property assets or contacts) in LifeTopix.

There are several advantages to cloud service integration. Real estate professionals can easily organize, find, and view important documents such as photos, contracts, and marketing materials on the go (no laptop required). In the example below, a flyer is associated with a property (asset) in LifeTopix.

LifeTopix Documents

Gathering Information from a Variety of Channels

Today, savvy real estate professionals are using various social media channels to gather information and to market their companies and properties. In addition, these professionals receive dozens of email messages every day. Information is also received from a variety of other channels (phone, notes, face-to-face conversations, etc.), which makes keeping up with it all practically impossible.

This is why LightArrow created “Inboxes” (available with the Pro Inbox Pack in-app purchase) in LifeTopix, which is shown below. Each tile in the screenshot represents a different channel such as a Twitter feed, Email feed, Web feed, and Facebook feed (all filtered by chosen keywords and other options); and Quick Inbox entries (ideas generated during conversations, research, etc.).

Inboxes

Using social media requires listening and acting on the information that’s gathered. LifeTopix is an excellent app for gathering information through social media and other channels – and communicating with others. For example, with LifeTopix’s Pro.Inbox Pack, the real estate professional can gather information from multiple channels, including Twitter, Facebook, the Web, Email, and simply through jotting down ideas and notes (Quick Inbox). LifeTopix makes it easy to communicate with others from messages and posts gathered from multiple channels as demonstrated below.

LifeTopix Channel Integration

LifeTopix then goes one step further by allowing real estate professionals to make this information “actionable.” For example, Twitter posts can be converted to tasks, projects, appointments, notes, and more – which can be viewed directly on their LifeTopix calendar. View an example below.

LifeTopix Inbox Conversions

Tracking Expenses

Real estate professionals are always looking for better ways to simplify expense tracking. With LifeTopix, real estate professionals can easily track expenses through the Finances topic. With LifeTopix, all the topics are naturally connected so users can add an expense directly to a property (asset) and then view it from the Expenses topic, as well. An example of a group of expenses associated with a property is shown below.

LifeTopix Asset Expenses

Keeping track of associated receipts can also be a hassle for real estate professional, but LifeTopix makes it easy. Real estate professionals can simply take a photo of the receipt and associate it with the expense.

Managing Contact Information

LifeTopix includes both basic management of contacts, and also offers advanced contact management with the Pro Contacts Pack in-app purchase. This pack adds Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Contact Management features to enhance the real estate professionals’ sales activities. This add-on is a great choice for real estate professionals who want to keep track of leads, clients and business information for people.

This in-app purchase allows real estate professionals to associate tasks, appointments, reminders, notes, files, bookmarks, and expenses with clients and contacts, allowing timely follow-ups and enhanced organization of information.

It also adds a configurable spreadsheet-like view of contacts and CSV import/export, which gives real estate professionals an easy way to add, view, sort, and manage business information for multiple contacts.

In addition, real estate professionals can create call lists for client follow-ups, prospective customers, or simply for cold calling as shown below:

LifeTopix Call Lists

LifeTopix also includes custom forms and fields to hold information specific for their contacts, such as home list prices, home buying requirements, etc. To learn about custom forms and fields, watch the following video:

Automatically Adding Contacts from Email

Real estate professionals have several contacts saved in their phones or Rolodexes, and they receive several email messages daily. While other apps might pull information from multiple email inboxes and automatically add contacts, LifeTopix allows its users to choose which contacts to add directly from email messages. They can add all contacts from a single email message or add a single contact from a selected message. They can sort their contacts by groups and add contacts directly to specified groups (directly from an email message). The image below shows how this is done.

Contact Conversion

Out-of-the-box, users can manage up to 100 contacts in LifeTopix. If they want to manage more contacts, extra contact packs are available via in-app purchases.

Managing Service Providers

Easily finding contact information for service providers while on the go is especially useful for the real estate professional. LifeTopix includes features for saving details for real estate attorneys, accountants, inspectors, surveyors, lenders, brokers, interior designers, and other service providers, which saves valuable time. In addition, the real estate professional can group providers into categories, rate providers, add online access (username and password) information, add location, and sort providers by rating.

Want to Learn More About LifeTopix?

If you have questions about how LifeTopix can help you succeed and be more productive, you can learn more by visiting http://www.lightarrow.com or the App Store. LifeTopix is a full-featured app at $7.99 US with absolutely no subscription fees. In-app purchases can be utilized to add features as you go.

To learn more about LifeTopix and its pricing, visit the App Store at: https://itunes.apple.com/app/lifetopix-all-in-one-organizer/id399076264?mt=8

7 Tips for Staying Productive When Life Throws You a Curveball

How do you stay productive during tough times?

Sometimes just when you think you have a good read on life, you’re blindsided with a difficult issue or obstacle – what many refer to as “a curveball.” At one time or another, just about everyone will face a curveball. Whether it’s a breakup, job loss, family issue, financial problem, health setback or other issue it’s hard to stay focused and productive when your personal life is in turmoil.

Maintaining professionalism at work or school is difficult when you’re facing personal problems — especially when negative thoughts are consuming you. But, allowing your personal life consume your work life can result in poor productivity, mistakes and bad choices.

Today, I compiled a list a strategies that I personally use to help me stay productive during rough times. I hope you find these helpful in your life.

1. Set Priorities and Stick to Them

When life gets rough, you need more time and energy to deal with your personal crisis. At work, understand what’s essential and most important. Limit the time you spend on non-essential tasks or busywork. Keep a prioritized to-do list and stick to it. Communicate your priorities with your supervisor often. Delegate tasks when possible.

2. Leave the Drama at Home

Have you ever had a coworker confide in you about a breakup or other personal issue? Did you find the situation awkward or did the coworker become a nuisance or burden — sapping your productivity? It’s okay to confide in others in whom you trust, but beware of sharing too much at the office. Eventually, you can become a workplace scapegoat and could be a target of blame for mistakes due to your “public” personal crisis.

Instead of discussing your issues with others at work, seek guidance or support from a personal friend, counselor or family member outside of work. Knowing you have a scheduled time to consult with a friend or counselor will help you resist the urge to over-share with coworkers.

3. Schedule Your Work in Time Blocks

In times of personal crisis, it’s important to be very diligent about properly managing your time. Good time management practices help you feel more in control and reduce your stress level.

An excellent time management strategy is to organize your work into blocks or chunks of time. Many of us have different types of tasks to complete such as meetings, phone calls, generating reports, creating budgets, etc. When you schedule similar tasks together, you use your time more efficiently because you’re not regularly shifting contexts. Constantly shifting contexts results in poor concentration and depletes you of energy.

To use this method, make a list of all your necessary tasks and then use a digital calendar to group them according to the type of task. For example, schedule meetings together; return phone calls in blocks of time; and schedule budgeting activities together. And don’t forget to schedule time to just think. It’s important to reflect and plan – not just “do.”

4. Take it Day By Day

One of my favorite adages is “This too shall pass.” I think about the times that I’ve faced challenges, family crises, illnesses and other life trials. They seemed traumatic at the time, but I’ve always emerged stronger and more resilient afterward.

Not everything is under your control, but when you can change the situation take positive steps to ensure a good outcome. Write down or record your goals that will set you up for success. Don’t dwell on the possibilities of a negative future. Take each day one at a time. Change doesn’t happen overnight, but you can make positive change happen over time.

5. See the Situation from a Different Point of View

When you’re blindsided by a crisis, it helps to get some perspective on the situation. Step away from it and see it from a different point of view. It might not be as bad as it seems. Consider your history and learn from the past. Has this situation ever occurred in your life before? How did you handle it? Was the outcome a success? What can you do differently this time?

If you’re feeling rattled, focus on your strengths and the things that matter; and prioritize accordingly. Build a plan to set yourself up for future success and happiness.

6. Take Care of Your Health

Staying healthy plays an important role in being productive. During stressful times it’s even more important to take care of your health and well being because your immune system becomes weakened. Channel your stress and anger into healthy activities that you enjoy. Yoga, meditation and aerobic exercise such as walking, running or cycling are great ways to relieve stress and make new friends. Ensure that you get at least eight to nine hours of sleep every night and stick to a healthy diet. Make yourself accountable by keeping an exercise and nutrition journal.

7. Don’t forget to Ask for Help

Seeking help from family, friends and therapists during difficult situations is a great way to heal and take your life back. Sometimes we take the burden all onto ourselves when others are ready and willing to help. Keeping feelings to yourself and taking on too much can lead to more stress, depression and anxiety. Imagine yourself as a friend in need. What would you do for that person? Most likely, your friends and family would happily do the same for you.

Your Turn

How do you stay productive when you’re dealing with a personal crisis? Please share your ideas and experiences!

10 Unexpected Ways to be the Most Productive Person You Know

Productive-People

At LightArrow, we’re all about productivity. Getting things done is embedded in everything we do. We often share productivity tips on our blog, Twitter and Facebook. Today, we compiled a collection of our favorite, counter-intuitive tips. Enjoy!

1. Ditch the Late Night Emails

Does your boss send you late night emails? Studies show that answering email outside of work on your smartphone or tablet, especially late at night, makes you less productive. Here’s the science involved. The pineal gland, which is located in the brain, releases melatonin a few hours before you go to sleep. However, if you’re playing games or using tablets and smartphones, the blue light that these devices emit can prevent the gland from releasing the melatonin you need to get to sleep.

But before you completely unplug, ensure you understand your boss’s expectations and that you know when immediate responses are necessary. Or perhaps, you’re the boss. Keep in mind that your employees feel obligated to respond, which sets them up for poor sleep and less productivity. Keep your employees happy and healthy by reserving the late night emails for emergencies.

2. Smile More

Have you ever spent a day dwelling on a negative event? Do you remember the impact it had on your overall productivity? Examine the things that make you happy and learn to gravitate to those places, people and things. When you’re happy, you’re naturally more productive and creative. Numerous studies have been conducted that link improved job performance and productivity with overall happiness. So don’t be a “Debbie Downer” and be afraid to share your happiness with everyone around you. Your smile will certainly be contagious!

3. Put a Plant on Your Desk

A little greenery can go a long way. Adding a plant to a sparse office space can surprisingly increase your productivity. According to a study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, plants can increase productivity up to 15 percent!

In addition, plants can remove air pollution from your environment that negatively affects productivity. According to NASA Clean Air Study, a variety of plants can reduce benzene, formaldehyde and trichloroethylene, xylene, toluene and/or ammonia. I personally prefer Boston Ferns because they’re relatively easy to take care of and they’re not toxic to animals according to Mother Nature Network. Whatever plant you choose, it will beautify your surroundings, clean the air and make you more productive. It’s a gift to yourself that doesn’t stop giving!

4. Take Restorative Breaks

After working several hours on a difficult task, you can feel drained and lose concentration. Recharging is necessary to regain your energy and concentration. You’ve probably heard that taking breaks increases productivity. However, when you take a break, ensure that the activity you choose during that break does not impact your concentration. Playing a game on your smartphone is not the best choice when recharging. Instead, take a walk, stretch, do some yoga poses, eat a healthy snack or talk to a friend. Sometimes, a change of scenery is all you need to recharge.

5. Eat Dark Chocolate

Now this is a tip you can sink your teeth into. Eat Dark Chocolate! Dark chocolate contains antioxidants and caffeine, which are proven to improve mental focus and alertness. In fact, according to WebMD, researchers believe that chocolate can enhance neurotransmitters which can help with sleep and mood.

6. Just Say No

Don’t try to do too much. Ruthlessly prioritizing is the key to achieving your goals and dreams – with the key word being “YOUR.” When you’re pulled in multiple directions and have conflicting priorities, you never achieve the things you really want to achieve. Just say no to someone else who’s trying to push his or her agenda onto you. Decide what’s important and urgent. Record your goals and build a tangible plan with broken-down tasks to get there. Check in with yourself. Review these goals often. Always clearly explain to others why their agenda is not your priority.

7. Don’t Work So Much

Have you ever noticed that your productivity declines on Friday afternoon? You’re gearing up for the weekend, losing focus, and burned out from a long week. According to Hudson Research, employees who have a relaxed Friday environment “go into the weekend feeling positive about their working environment.” A flexible schedule goes a long way with most employees. Researchers from this study believe that the “feel good factor” can have beneficial effects.

Don’t feel guilty. If your employer allows it, work when your energy is at its best. Take advantage of the times when you feel focused and take some time off when you believe you’re not doing your best work. The result will be better output and a recharged mind and body. It’s a win-win.

8. Exercise

Time and time again I hear, “I don’t have time for exercise” or “I’m too tired to exercise.” I believe most of us don’t have time to NOT exercise. Exercise supplies more energy to your brain, and it also enhances mental capabilities.

Whether you have a busy work schedule, small children or school is taking over your life, there’s always a way to make time to be healthy. You don’t have to join a gym or jump onto the latest hardcore workout trend. According to the Mayo Clinic, you should aim for at least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity. That’s only 30 minutes five days a week. Worried about childcare? Take a walk with your kids so they can also enjoy the benefits of movement and activity.

9. Write More

Writing can have many benefits. Writing helps you organize your thoughts, stay on schedule and release feelings onto paper. In fact, just the act of writing helps us to remember things. Do you make to-do lists? Just the process of making a to-do list helps you to remember all the tasks that you need to complete. Writing lists makes everything more manageable and makes you feel less out of control.

10. Focus on the Moment

How often do you try to plow through your to-do list and thoughts start creeping into your head about the test you need to study for or phone calls you need to make? To get things done quickly and efficiently, focus on one task at a time before moving onto the next task. For example, imagine you’re writing a term paper, but you know you have six loads of laundry waiting. Instead of breaking up your thought process, focus on your term paper for 90 minutes before shifting to another task, such as your laundry. You can easily set a timer with your smartphone or alarm clock to keep you focused.

Your Turn

What is your favorite unexpected life hack for making you more productive? Please share!

The Power of All in One Tools and Why We Love Them

LifeTopix Swiss Army Knife of AppsIn the 1800s, Victorinox® introduced the Swiss Army Knife® as an all-in-one tool to aid the Swiss Army. If you’re not familiar with the Swiss Army Knife, it’s essentially a single instrument that can include several different tool combinations such as a blade, screwdriver, can opener, bottle opener, nail file and a host of other tools. The Swiss Army Knife is known for its multi-tool design, red color and white cross logo. It’s an excellent example of smart and versatile design that eliminates unnecessary bulk in your backpack or pocket.

LightArrow Apps – Swiss Army Knives of the App World

Some things never change. In the 1880s, it was important to keep essential tools in one place. These days, many of us keep a variety of tools (apps) for managing our work and life on our smartphones and tablets. Imagine your device is like a pocket or backpack – you don’t want 24 different apps weighing down your device when you can use just one. And just like your pocket, you don’t want to keep reaching into it to find a different tool to do the job when one tool can do it all.

At LightArrow, we believe that versatility and all-in-one design is essential for optimizing productivity, and that’s why we love this type of smart design. For example, if I’m at a conference and I meet new connections, I want to save the information about those connections in notes, but I don’t want those notes to be separate from contacts on my device. Or, if I create a shopping list for a home project, I want that shopping list to be associated with that project. That’s why it’s great when my data is connected and inside one app. I also don’t want to search for a different app every time I want to create a reminder or make a to-do list. For the sake of efficiency, it’s important to have a “go-to” app for this information.

LightArrow Connected App.001-001

 

Many of our apps are packaged much like Swiss Army Knives. You can choose LifeTopix, which includes the most functionality in our product line right out of the box, or you can pick the features you want by downloading one of our other products. These apps: Pro.Calendar, My.Agenda and Pro.Inbox allow feature set flexibility through in-app purchases. Hence, it’s much like picking the tools that you need on your Swiss Army Knife. You can learn more about the features included in each app by visiting our Compare Page.

Your Turn

Have you discovered the power and versatility of all-on-one design? Let us know about your experiences with our products or others.