Reducing Stress and Anxiety – 3 Things That Work For Me

Over the years, probably brought on by being a startup junkie and always having poured myself unreservedly into work my entire professional life, I’ve developed several bad habits or things that are harmful to health, and perhaps also to relationships.

On the one hand, there is this insatiable passion and seemingly endless energy to take on challenges, get stuff done, being an engine that is always on. Sadly, on the other hand, there is fatigue, irritability, loss of focus, and low quality sleep. Undeniably, according to both ancient wisdom and modern medical know-how, the latter set of things affect one’s health dangerously. And with equal importance, the closest relationships are exposed to occasional bouts of irritability and other forms of negative energy. Broadly speaking, there is a general feeling of stress and anxiety as a result.

Three things I have either changed or started recently are personally helping me a lot without taking away from my productivity, and seem to be helping cut out the bad set of things.

RelaxPool

1. Turn off all audible alerts and lock-screen notifications on devices. (Except calendar reminders and text messages.)

This was a surprisingly welcome change. Sounds simple, but do you really need to be suddenly interrupted from your flow or zone, with a ding and a lock screen message that “Your Facebook friend so-and-so just joined Pinterest.” – and other irrelevant, unnecessary crap? I started going into my iPhone’s Notifications setup each time anything came up (Mail app alerts, Google alerts, Facebook, Twitter, CNBC alerts, and perhaps 10 others), and turning them off. I left Calendar and text message alerts on as I control the reminders I put on my calendar items, and also I am not a defocussed incessant texter - especially when I work, so most texts I get are important. On the same note, during work hours, I only make myself visible to the group of people I am working with on messaging apps. I still check my email and look at my agenda frequently, but on my own schedule, when I am in-between focussed tasks – kind of like waking up in sync with natural sleep cycles. Which leads me to my second thing – sleep.

2. Sleep well. Instead of an alarm clock, use an app like Sleep Cycle.

I started using this about a couple of months ago instead of using a regular alarm. It is ingeniously simple. You turn it on, put it next to your pillow facing down. It tracks your sleep cycles, duration and quality by tracking motion (whatever it detects from your tossing and turning, etc.), and perhaps from movement noise since it asks for access to the microphone. You can configure a window of time to wake up in, and it detects a stage when you are either awake or your sleep is in the waking part of the cycle during that time window, and wakes you up. Also, it measures your sleep quality and gives you a score and a graph of sleep level over time – that way you can correlate various pre-sleep activities with quality of sleep – for example, does sipping some tart cherry juice an hour before going to bed actually help with sleep, does deep breathing right before sleep give you some golden deep sleep cycles, etc. As my friend Chip had said 20 years ago: you should measure things that you care about. Inducing positive energy and a calm disengagement via pre-sleep deep breathing, and cutting out sources of negative energy seem to help in my case – which takes me to the third point.

3. Add positive energy (many choices). Cut out negative energy (namely TV news channels, and social media complainers).

Points 1 and 2 take zero time investment and give heavy positive returns. So that’s golden for the ROI (return-on-investment) fanatics. Point three is also a net positive – consuming about 30-60 minutes of time every day for adding positive energy (meditation / deep-breathing / quiet-time / simple yoga / reading / praying / reflecting / being grateful – look up Positive Psychology when you have a minute), but freeing up much more than that by subtracting sources of negative energy that steal time both directly and indirectly, and negatively affect every aspect of life. I am talking primarily about TV “news” folk, political talking-heads and other assorted villains – kings and queens of ignorance on TV and the internet constantly furthering their narrow agendas by stepping on your gentle minds. They come from the right and the left – ignore them, and instead look straight at what you value – there’s much better stuff there. The negative energy sources are plentiful in our social circles, in person, and more so on social media since it’s a much larger set. Cut. Them. Out. Hide them from your feeds, unfollow them, walk-away, change the topic, do whatever it takes to cleanly disengage. There are always tons of important things that require immense energy, constructive debate, championing ideas, defending values, and much effort without all the shallow and shrill things stealing our precious time. Any issue that is important to you can be engaged with constructively without subscribing to a buffet-line of fast-food class negative sentiments. That frees up more time to embrace positive things. Things you admire. Things you learn from. Things that leave you positive. Spend time with people that enrich you, and take a vacation every now and then!

What are some of your favorite positive energy sources? What kinds of negative energy sources have you successfully cut out? Please share.

Springpad Shutting Down: LightArrow Has A Top Personal Organizer as Alternative

If you’ve been one of the faithful users of the Springpad note-taking and bookmarking app, you’ve probably heard by now that the service is shutting down on June 25th. This might leave you scrambling to find a new personal assistant to help you with organizing bookmarks, notes, and lists. If the functionality you need is the ability to create notebooks, create notes, store lists, and create bookmarks, LightArrow has you covered via its mobile apps for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.

Our apps, LifeTopix, Pro.Inbox or Pro.Notes are excellent alternatives to Springpad for personal and business organization. LifeTopix is our flagship app, which we’ve been developing since 2010. It’s a top app that’s found in the Productivity section of the Apple App Store. LifeTopix is based on 12 life topics, which include Notes + Files, Lists, Bookmarks + Lockers, Tasks + Projects, Shopping + Gifts, Events + Appointments, Travel + Places, People + Services, Health + Goals, Finances, Home + Assets, Education, and Media.

LifeTopix’s Comparable Features to Springpad

Below is a quick overview of the features that will be most valuable for the former Springpad user:

  • Integration with Evernote Notes
  • Tagging
  • Email integration
  • Social integration
  • Notebook and note organization
  • Bookmarking
  • Quick notes and checklists
  • Tasks and reminders
  • Calendars
  • Collaboration via social, SMS, and email
  • Organization and sorting of notes by category, notebook, context tag, date tag, and last updated

If you’re a former Springpad user, you’ll be especially interested in the Notes + Files, Lists topic of LifeTopix, which enables management of local notes, online notes (Evernote and Toodledo), checklists and to-dos, and online and local files (Dropbox, Box, OneDrive, and Google Drive). You can create and organize notes, checklists and to-dos; make drawings and hand-written notes; and add video and audio files to notes. You can create notebooks and easily organize and sort your notes.

For items created or synced via the 12 topics, a robust tagging capability is included through “My Contexts.” Categorization is available through tags with tagging permitted for the following types of objects: Appointments, Assets, Audio, Bookmarks, Checklists, Events, Expenses, Files, Gifts, Goals, Metrics, Notes, Persons, Photos, Projects, Reminders, Service Providers, Services, Education Subjects, Shopping Lists, Tasks, Trips, Video, and Visits.

Additionally, LifeTopix includes features for managing bookmarks in the Bookmarks + Lockers topic. Specifically, the app includes management of all your web bookmarks, credentials for online services, and other secret data such as PIN numbers, credit card numbers, photos of personal information, and recordings of personal information. Secret data is secure with military-grade 256-bit Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) encryption.

LifeTopix and Evernote Integration

It’s important to note that our personal productivity apps work with Evernote. If you export your Springpad data to Evernote through Springpad’s exporter, you’ll have access to that data through the LifeTopix Notes + Files, Lists topic. You’re currently able to sync Evernote notes with LifeTopix (2-way) and associate your notes that were originally created with Springpad with objects in LifeTopix, such as tasks, appointments, reminders, checklists, files, and bookmarks. For example, notice in the following image that you can view a list of Evernote notes in LifeTopix, locate a note (such as a clipped recipe) and associate it with a project, such as “Meal Planning.”

Evernotediagram

Enhanced Evernote Integration Coming Soon

Our next update of LifeTopix (8.1), which is due to release in just a few weeks, will make it even easier to work with Evernote. We’ve added the ability to create Evernote feeds. Using an Evernote feed enables you to access your Evernote notes (originally created in Springpad or Evernote) in a list view. Once you access a note, you’ll be able to convert the notes to LifeTopix tasks, projects, products, appointments, hosting events, attending events, notes, checklists, trips, visitors, and inbox items. Once these items are converted, you’ll be able to associate them with LifeTopix objects and schedule the items on your calendar, which works seamlessly with your iOS calendar and all the calendars that your iOS device supports.

For example, as shown below; you’ll be able to (1) choose Evernote from among your email, web, and social feeds; (2) convert a note from a variety of types (including checklists); (3) choose a type of object to convert to; and (4) create an object (e.g. checklist), which can be published on your calendar and agenda (automatically).

Evernote Feeds

As you would expect from any excellent personal assistant or organizer, the items that you convert or access through the Notes + Files, Lists topic automatically appear on your calendar (if you wish), as shown below.

calendarCSV Import

We currently do not have plans to build an importer for Springpad data; however, you can format your data into a CSV file and import it directly into LifeTopix. This post, Migrate Bento or Other App’s Data to LifeTopix, includes the information you need to know if you plan to import data into LifeTopix from other apps through CSV.

Your Turn

Please let us know if you’re a former Springpad user and if you plan to take advantage of LifeTopix to help you manage and organize your personal and work life. We’re happy to offer assistance in your transition. Please comment below. We respond to all submissions.

This post includes pre-release images; new features and functionality are subject to change.

Introducing Pro.Inbox: Create Actionable Data from Email, Web and Social Streams

In today’s world we’re overloaded with information from multiple places. It’s delivered to us every day through social streams, email messages, and the web. Wouldn’t it be great if you could easily harvest, filter, and view this information from these multiple channels, and then find the data nuggets and ideas that are important to you? This is exactly why we created Pro.Inbox. Pro.Inbox boosts your productivity by gathering the information that you care about from social, email, and the web and presenting it to you all in one app. In fact, it’s the first mobile app to make email, web and social streams actionable from one place.

Watch the video below to see how Pro.Inbox can boost your productivity — starting today!

Watch Pro.Inbox in Action

Do you like this video? Please share it with your friends and followers on Twitter -> Tweet: Harvest, filter & view information from email, social & the web — and easily make this information actionable. http://ctt.ec/bnQoZ+

Get Pro.Inbox at the Apple App Store

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5 Things You Can Learn about Productivity from Olympic Athletes

http://marketplace.veer.com/stock-photo/Succesful-businessman-with-gold-medals-5086860?slot=81&pg=5&skeywords=olympics&stermids=7278With the 2014 Winter Olympics starting today in Sochi, Russia, I’ve been reminded of the motivation and determination that these remarkable athletes possess in order to train to be the best in their sports. I began to wonder about their secrets to productivity, motivation, and their unique perspectives on their passion to win. I concluded that there’s a lot that we can learn from these athletes. Through these athletes’ inspirational words and accomplishments, I believe everyone can learn a little something about reaching his or her fullest potential. Keep reading to learn more about their inspirational and motivational words and wisdom.

Find Your Confidence

If you’re a fan of track and field, then you’re probably familiar with Carl Lewis who was an American track and field athlete who won 8 Olympic gold medals. It’s been said that some might consider Lewis arrogant, but you have to admire the fact that he’s used his ample confidence to his advantage. He’s been quoted as saying,

If you don’t have confidence, you’ll always find a way not to win.

Self-confidence is one of the most significant traits to lead to success in life and business. A positive outlook and the ability to perform any type of task without second-guessing whether your work or the decisions that you make are satisfactory, is key to being productive and successful.

To become more self confident, visualize positive outcomes. Focus on your strengths, not your weaknesses. Seek out new experiences to promote growth in yourself. And most importantly, don’t rely on the opinions of others – accurately judge your own work and behaviors.

Be a Doer

Many of you might be familiar with Bruce Jenner because he’s become famous from the popular television series, “Keeping up with the Khardashians.” What you might not know is Bruce Jenner is one of the most successful Olympians in history. In Montreal in 1976, he won gold and set a world record for the decathlon, which consists of ten different track and field events and is considered one of the most difficult of all events.Bruce Jenner

In Jenner’s book, “Finding the Champion Within: A Step-by-Step Plan for Reaching Your Full Potential,” he tells a story of watching a winner’s ceremony and examining what sets apart losers from winners. Jenner says,

The difference, I decided, was total, undiluted focus on a singular goal. As soon as I realized this, I went from being a “dreamer” to a man obsessed with “doing.”

Bruce Jenner” by jla0379 is licensed under CC BY 2.0

What’s a “Doer?” A Doer is someone who actively gets things done instead of just thinking about or discussing them. A Doer takes a dream and strategically makes a plan to convert the dream into reality. Anyone can be a dreamer, but it takes commitment, drive, and initiative to develop into a doer.

Make Your Colleagues Look Good

Mia Hamm cornerThose who make others look bad are usually lacking in self-confidence. This is a way to elevate their feelings about themselves or to deflect their inferior work or behaviors onto others.

Mia Hamm is considered one of the best women soccer players in history. She won the Women’s World Cup in 1991 and 1999, and took Olympic gold medals in 1996 and 2004. In her book, “Go For the Goal: A Champion’s Guide To Winning In Soccer And Life” Mia Hamm devotes an entire chapter to “Making Your Teammates Look Good.” In the book, she says,

An average team that passes well will often beat a physical stronger opponent that doesn’t.

Can you imagine the disaster that would result from poor teamwork in a soccer team? Consider this – good teamwork is essential for the success of business people, families, and Olympians. Teamwork and team rapport is imperative for success. When people work together efficiently, passing tasks to one another when needed, projects are seen through and completed on time. Working together to solve problems; constructing interpersonal relationships; and building trust results in highly effective teams and positive outcomes.

Don’t Be Afraid to “Flop”

Dick Fosbury, Olympian from the United States, dared to be different by inventing the “Fosbury Flop.” In Mexico in 1968, Fosbury was the first to high jump backwards (instead of forward).

At first, Fosbury was “seen as a novelty” and there were safety concerns around the new jumping technique. However, now we can’t imagine high jumping in any other way. There’s a lesson to be learned – just because something has been done a certain way, year after year, it doesn’t mean you can’t improve or change the technique.

So, what’s the lesson? Find new ways to be better, stronger, and more efficient. Don’t be afraid to take risks. Creativity is crucial.

Remove Your Fears When Presented with Challenges

I recently watched a video of an interview from JoAnn Dahlkoetter with Melissa Hoar on the Sports Psychology Network, and something Hoar said caught my attention. Hoar is an Australian Skeleton Racer who’s competed at the 2010 Winter Olympics and will also be competing in the 2014 Olympics.

In the interview, Hoar explained how she changes her perception when she comes into a difficult curve. She said she changes her perception by changing her thinking from…

Oh no here comes this curve [to] but here I come to the curve.

The takeaway here is when you have trials and tribulations – those challenges that are presented to you – if you change your perception of them and remove your fears, you can tackle them with more ease.

Your Turn

Do you find inspiration from Olympic athletes? Please share your stories.

 

 

The Ultimate Cheat Sheet for Peak Productivity

Happy, Productive, WomanAre you having an unproductive day, week, or perhaps – life? I’m guessing you’re looking for some quick ideas or a no-nonsense plan to help you get back on track. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be here, right? You’ve come to the right place. Weekly, we share tips to help everyone, from the productivity novice to the productivity expert, to explore new and sensible ways to get things done so they can do the things they really want to do with their free time.

Busyness does not equal productivity. Are you the first one into work every day and the last one to leave? Are you rewarded for this behavior? That’s just plain nonsense. Working smarter, not harder is the key to a balanced, happy, productive life. Keep reading to find out how you can amaze your boss and family with your productivity brilliance.

Cheat 1: Fill in Time Gaps with Tasks and To-dos

The Getting Things Done® (GTD) method from David Allen outlines countless ideas for time management. One of those ideas is “contexts.” In GTD, contexts are used to tag your tasks and to-dos so you can better choose what to do and when to do it. Using contexts is a great way to find tasks to do when you’re in between meetings, waiting for kids during their activities, or during other time gaps.

Contexts are typically based on a physical location, resource, or the equipment that’s necessary to complete a task. For example, in your to-do or task list, you could assign a context of @office and @phone for phone calls to complete at the office. Another way to use contexts is to tag those tasks with contexts such as 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 30 minutes, and so on. This way, you can pick up tasks (such as paying bills or answering email) during these time gaps and get more done throughout the day. Consequently, you can go home from work at a reasonable hour and have more time to spend with your friends or family.

Cheat 2: Reclaim Your Schedule

What are some of your biggest time wasters? Discover and identify the black holes of where your time is going. Are you getting lost in news articles online when you should be finishing your TPS reports? Are business trips out of hand? Are you wasting your time in unproductive meetings? Do you have chatty coworkers who don’t respect your time?

Your time is one of your most important assets. Guard it like a mama bear guards its cubs. Block time on your calendar for “Focus Time.” Limit the time you spend on online shopping sites, social media, and news sites – put “Internet Time” on your schedule to remind yourself to limit it. Don’t attend conferences that won’t be beneficial for you during busy periods – send an employee, or request that a peer attend, instead. Request an agenda before all meetings to ensure that the meeting will be beneficial for you. Ensure the people who need to make the final decisions attend your meetings; otherwise, you’re wasting everyone’s time. Use body language to communicate to overly-chatty and gossipy coworkers that you don’t have time to talk – walk to the bathroom, avoid eye contact, or pick up your cell phone.


Cheat 3: Don’t Use Email

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What? Don’t use email? I can see the baby boomers and gen-Xers snickering as they read this line. Unfortunately, email is a necessary tool of life and business. In fact, it’s one of the most important instruments in business communication.

The problem with email is it takes personal interaction out of the equation, and the quality of relationships, communication, and team comradery suffer as a result. In fact, some large companies are attempting to eradicate internal email altogether, such as the French information technology company, Atos.

It’s a fact of life that we cannot completely eliminate the use of email, but we can certainly explore other, more efficient ways of communicating. Face-to-face is always the best form of communication; however, in our connected world it’s not always easy to be in the same room with the person to whom we’re communicating, which forces us to use other forms of communication.

After email, the next best form of communication is the phone or a video conference (such as Skype); however, in our modern world, phone conversations are becoming old-fashioned. Consider using instant messaging and text messaging (when appropriate) to get answers quickly or to communicate important information.

If you’re required to use email due to company culture or the nature of your work, eliminate compulsively checking it. Turn off the instant notifications, and check email in blocks of time to avoid context switching, which kills productivity. Reserve email for times that you need a paper trail of conversations or when you’re sending large documents or reports. Foster an open-door policy and open workspaces in your business or organization to encourage face-to-face communication.

Cheat 4: Simplify Your Choices

Being required to make too many choices and decisions burns away at your time. For example, I canceled memberships to warehouse stores years ago because it simply takes too long to shop there with the multitude of choices – and not to mention the unreasonable crowds. There are too many selections, and I spend more time looking at things that I don’t need, like a six-pack of 44 ounce bottles of barbeque sauce, instead of buying the essentials. Farmers markets and smaller grocery stores are better choices when you’re trying to maximize your efficiency.

Another way to limit your choices is to simplify your wardrobe. Consider basing your wardrobe around a few basic, neutral colors like black and white so everything goes together. Downsize your wardrobe or put pieces away that you’re not using in the current season – stick to a few favorites. What haven’t you worn in the last year? Will you need to lose or gain more than 10 pounds to wear those items? If you don’t like something you bought and you’ve never worn it, give it to charity or sell it through a consignment store. Fewer clothing choices result in less time getting ready for your day.

Cheat 5: Chill Out

By lululemon athletica (Flickr: Balance!) [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Don’t have the time to take a break? Keep in mind that those who take regular breaks are more productive because these breaks allow them to recharge in order to have the energy to get things done. Have you ever been working on a difficult task and you take a break from it or sleep on it – and magically the answer comes to you? This is a great example of why breaks are important.

Don’t try to do everything – you’re not Superman or Wonder Woman. Review your schedule and prioritize. Find tasks and to-dos that can slide so you can give that time back to yourself to nurture your health and wellness.

Feeling stressed? Focus on meditation or practice yoga to reduce stress and anxiety. Numerous studies show that yoga and meditation can help you to manage your stress, lower your blood pressure, and improve chronic health conditions.

Your Turn

What’s on your Productivity Cheat Sheet? Let us know in the comments below!

Tips for Sticking to Your New Year’s Resolutions

Apps for New Year's ResolutionsTo achieve your wishes and dreams, setting goals is an important step. Goals fuel your motivation and as you make progress, seeing the results boosts your self esteem and encourages you to work even harder. The key to success is to make a plan and take action, and eventually you’ll be enjoying the fruits of your labor.

Great news. Whether you want to get fit, lose 10 pounds, improve your health or help others in 2014, the Life­Topix personal organization app includes what you need to set goals, make plans and track your progress. It’s simple. Below you’ll find a slideshow that provides tips for achieving your New Year’s resolutions.

Good Luck!

Please comment and let us know how your goals are progressing!

Eight Surefire Methods to Increase Your Productivity

How often do you complain that there’s not enough hours in the day to get the things done that you want to do? Do you feel like it’s constantly “crunch time” and the result is overwhelming stress? Take note of the following strategies to improve your performance and efficiency, which will lead you to a more relaxed, successful, and enjoyable life.Productivity

1. Surround Yourself With Positive People

The people you surround yourself with can affect your level of happiness, your productivity, your passion, and your well being. Associate yourself with people who are go-getters, engaged, productive, smart, and have good attitudes.

Spend some time evaluating the success, positivity, enthusiasm, level of engagement, and optimism of the people you spend your time with. Are they people who you aspire to be like? Are they role models or mentors? Do they encourage you to be the best you can be?

There’s lots of ways to connect with motivational people. Find groups of people with similar personal and professional interests utilizing tools such as Meetups. At school, seek out clubs and organizations. At work, seek out positive people and remove yourself from those who drain your energy. Think of these people as your “dream team.” Leverage these relationships and cultivate a mutually supportive environment.

2. Get Enough Sleep

Anybody who’s suffered through a day at work or school after a night of insomnia understands that lack of sleep can take a toll on your productivity. According to the study, Frontal lobe function, sleep loss and fragmented sleep, “…experimental studies involving total sleep loss, sleep reduction and clinically related sleep fragmentation report impaired performance on tasks of frontal lobe or executive function, including measures of verbal fluency, creativity and planning skills.” Note that “Executive Function” of the brain refers to processes such as problem solving, planning, memory, and reasoning. Clearly, impairment of these functions through lack of sleep can negatively affect your productivity.

Our motivation and creativity is at its highest during the day and we need sleep to replenish it. So what can you do to get more sleep? If you don’t have a medical problem, you can try some of these techniques:

  • Turn off electronics 30 – 60 minutes before bed. Light exposure before sleeping suppresses the hormone melatonin which helps you sleep.
  • Keep temperatures cool. WebMD recommends to keep the room between 65 and 72 degrees.
  • Limit caffeine. The National Sleep Foundation recommends limiting the amount of caffeine you drink to one or two 8 oz. servings daily.
  • Wear socks at night. Cold feet can prevent a good night’s sleep.

3. Utilize Good Methods for Document Organization and Retrieval

Do you create and receive a multitude of documents, photos, notes, and other files? Finding the right files when you need them is essential for optimal productivity. In fact, according to the study I Can’t Get My Work Done! by harmon.ie, “users waste 30 minutes a day (16 days a year!) searching for documents, on average.”

If you’re anything like me, you’re tempted to toss your documents on your computer’s desktop or leave them in your email inbox and organize them later. Big mistake. Promptly organizing your files in folders in categories makes it easy to find your files later. If you’re using a Mac, your Spotlight search utility (the magnifying glass in the upper right or Command + spacebar) can be your best friend. Keep in mind that you can use Boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT) with the Mac’s spotlight.

To help you get more efficient, do research on good ways to organize and tag documents so you’re not wasting 30 minutes each day, which could be put to better use, such as studying for exams or completing projects. Use note-taking apps and applications with tagging capabilities, such as Evernote, for easy note retrieval. Organize your documents by project, event, etc. so you can easily find them in context with your life’s projects.

4. Covet a Flexible Schedule

Some of the latest studies show that those who are allowed to work from home part of the time and have flexible schedules are more productive. These employees report that they spend the time that they would normally use commuting on doing their jobs. In fact, some companies report that employees are more engaged and committed when flexible corporate policies are available, which in turn, increases their productivity.

5. Minimize Digital Interruptions

How many times a day are you interrupted? According to the study I Can’t Get My Work Done! by harmon.ie, “45% of today’s workers can’t work more than 15 minutes without being interrupted.” The majority of these interruptions (57%) are the result of email, text messaging/chat, application hopping, and personal online activity (Facebook, etc.).

If you’re finding that you’re often interrupted by digital distractions, examine ways to maximize your focus. Check your email in chunks and then shut it down. Turn off notifications for email, chat, text messages, Twitter, and Facebook and check those services during regularly scheduled times.

6. Stop Procrastinating

We’ve all been there. You have a deadline looming, but can’t get motivated and focused to complete what needs to get done. We all have natural tendencies to avoid anything that seems like it could be painful, and we choose more pleasurable activities such as playing video games, chatting with friends, playing golf, or watching the latest cat videos on YouTube. There are several reasons that we procrastinate including overwhelm, inability to prioritize, fear of failure, perfectionism, poor time management — the list goes on and on.

Procrastination is one of the most difficult areas to combat. One of the best strategies is to find the root cause of your procrastination to end it. Identify when you’re procrastinating and record the reasons why. Be cognizant of your avoidance habits. When you recognize that you’ve developed a bad habit, learn strategies to break it. It usually takes about 3 to 4 weeks to break a bad habit or develop a new habit. When a project is looming, make an action plan. Break down the project into smaller tasks and prioritize.

7. Automate Repetitive Tasks

Perhaps someday we’ll be able to automate unpleasant and repetitive tasks such as doing our laundry or dishes, but until someone builds a better robot, we’re stuck with these chores. However, using clever web-based software and apps can automate some of the repetitive tasks that steal your precious time. One of my favorite automation tools is IFTTT. IFTTT is “If This Then That.” It’s a web-based service that performs actions based on your criteria. It sounds very “techy,” but it’s actually easy to use because there’s several “recipes” that others have created that you can use or modify. For example, if you’re a blogger, you can use IFTTT to instantly share your blog post to all your social media channels automatically. If you’re a Social Media Manager, you can save all your tweets to a Google spreadsheet so you can refer back to them later. If you’re a news buff, you can save popular news to read later in Feedly. How cool is that?

8. Choose a Career Path that is Personally Meaningful to You

Some of the latest studies show that those who are more engaged at work are more productive. However, it’s not always easy to be engaged due to the culture of your organization or a mismatch of your organization’s goals and your personal goals. This can lead to poor motivation and productivity.

Before accepting a position, ensure that the management can articulate the overall strategy and goals of the organization and where you fit in. Does the organization have an inspirational leader? Will you be empowered to do the job you’re being hired to do? Are the people at the organization engaged or “checked out?” These are important factors to consider when selecting a future employer.

If you discover that you’re “checked out” at your current job, discover what motivates you to succeed and seek out new challenges. Understand how you can positively impact the organization using your strengths. Seek out coworkers and leaders who share your motivation and support your goals.

Start a Conversation!

What are your strategies for supercharging your productivity? Please share your experiences here or speak up on Twitter, Facebook or Google +.

Introducing My.Shopping 1.0 – Shopping Lists Your Way

MyShopping128We’re very excited about our new shopping list app, My.Shopping. Watch below to see how you can take advantage of it for organizing shopping lists, things to sell, gifts, and sellers — your way.

Watch the Video

Transcript

Introducing My.Shopping, designed for iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch. Organize Shopping lists – your way. Available at the Apple App Store.

Wouldn’t it be great if you had an electronic grocery list that you could refer to over and over again instead of wasting your precious time re-creating that same old list? And can you imagine the time you would save if you always knew which store carried your favorite products, you could save photos of household product requirements, and you could instantly locate stores on a map? This is what My.Shopping can do for you.

With My.Shopping

You can manage individual shopping items.
Manage entire shopping lists.
Manage things you plan to sell.
Record gifts for others and gifts that you’ve received.
Manage coupons.
Record data about your favorite products.
Keep track of your favorite sellers and service providers.

My.Shopping is not like your typical shopping apps that require web logins, subscriptions, show advertisements, and track your shopping habits. It’s installed directly on your device and you can keep it completely private with a passcode lock.

There are many benefits of using an electronic shopping list. For example, you can create reusable shopping lists for everything – clothing, groceries, baby items, office supplies — whatever you buy.

And it’s super easy to add your favorite items to your shopping lists. Just tap the items you wish to buy and then tap add.

Shopping is different for everyone. That’s why we made My.Shopping flexible, allowing you to decide how you want to sort your shopping items. Save time by sorting items by grocery aisle, price, nutritional value, or type of product. You decide.

Sometimes a limited number of stores carries your favorite personal or household items. Always find your favorite products by sorting your lists by seller.

Not only can you create electronic shopping lists, with My.Shopping, you can record all the gifts you given and received. Prevent embarrassment by knowing what gift you gave Uncle Jeff or Aunt Mary last Christmas. or perhaps you’re hosting a baby shower or birthday party? Keep track of your gifts electronically so you can easily send thoughtful thank you notes.

Do you host garage sales or sell on Craigslist or eBay? With My.Shopping you can monitor all the items that you sell.

With My.Shopping, save money by easily organizing your coupons.

For stores that accept non-printed coupons, take photos of flyers and coupons and use them while shopping.

For online coupons, add bookmarks and instantly access coupons while at checkout.

And how often do you wish you could use a coupon but it has expired? Track dates and see alerts for upcoming expirations.

Organizing your favorite products and product details can get frustrating.

By using text notes, photos, audio, or video you can easily find household product details such as battery sizes, air filters, coffee filters, printer ink, types of lightbulbs, room dimensions, paint colors, cartridges, or more.

Or imagine your friend bought a great pair of cowboy boots and you want to find the same pair. Take a photo, record the details, and schedule a due date for purchase.

With My.Shopping you can keep track of your favorite stores and service providers.

Save the details such as the name, referrer, or website URL from your iOS contacts. Call or email instantly from My.Shopping. Easily set the location and view it on the map so you always know where to find your favorite stores.

Are you a savvy shopper who’s tired of the never-ending email chains of shopping items?

If you choose to purchase Sync + Share pack, you can send a list directly to a spouse or partner from the app through email and they can open it in their My.Shopping app. Or for instant collaboration, you can share data through a free Dropbox account.

If you’re managing a busy household or business sometimes you need reminders when shopping items are due.

“What Matters Now” on your home screen lets you know what’s due.

And you can get alerted on your device at the time of the event until up to 60 days before. You decide.

You can also choose to view shopping lists and items on your iOS calendars so you can make sure never to forget an important item.

If you’re looking for the ultimate app to keep your shopping organized your way, look no further. We’ve got you covered.

For more information, go to www.lightarrow.com or find My.Shopping at the Apple App Store in the lifestyle category.

Thanks for watching.

Introducing Pro.Notes 1.0 – Organize Notes in One Place

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We’re very excited about our new note-taking app, Pro.Notes. Watch below to see how you can take advantage of it for gathering and retrieving information and accessing your online notes and files.

Watch the Video

Transcript

Introducing Pro.Notes, designed for iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch. Available at the Apple App Store.

Wouldn’t it be great to manage all your notes, checklists, to-dos, and online notes and files in one place? This is what Pro.Notes can do for you.

Is Pro.Notes right for you? Pro.Notes is very flexible. It’s great for Business People, Parents, Students — just about anyone one the go who needs to capture and share information.

When you launch Pro.Notes you’ll see the Home screen, The Home screen alerts you to what matters now, shows your recent notes — and gives you quick access to all your notes checklists, to-dos and more.

With Pro.Notes flexible note taking, you can always take notes like a pro.

With Pro.Notes you can easily add text and view a thumbnail.

Add and record video and view a thumbnail.

Take and add photos and view a thumbnail.

Record and add audio and view the associated date.

Imagine how useful this app will be when taking notes at a lecture or reviewing your notes with clients.

And once you capture your note text, it’s very easy to share it with family members, housemates, clients, or friends. Just send an email directly from Pro.Notes and they can open it in their app or view the text directly in the email message.

If you use Evernote or Toodledo for note taking, you can easily sync your notes and access them all in one place – from Pro.Notes.

You can draw amazing pictures and easily jot down hand-written notes. Pro.Notes includes

24 beautiful colors
alpha options
line width choices
eraser
clear
undo
and print

You can pinch to zoom to help you make precise movements.

And once you’re finished with your masterpiece, you can easily share it through email or social media.

All of this is neatly organized into one screen for easy access and retrieval.

Unlike other note-taking apps, Pro.Notes includes powerful tools for making checklists and todos. Add, re-order, and check off items. Share with friends or family.

Export to a .csv file through email to use in status reports, spreadsheets, or other applications.

If you use online services such as Dropbox, Google Drive, or SkyDrive you can easily access those files to view notes and files that you’ve created elsewhere. Pro.Notes can be your central portal to those services.

Pro.Notes keeps everything organized.

View notes by categories, notebooks, context tags so you can easily find them when you’re looking for that important piece of information.

And to make finding your notes even easier, we’ve added full text search capabilities across notes.

So if you’re looking for the ultimate app to keep your notes organized all in one place, look no further. We’ve got you covered.

For more information, go to www.lightarrow.com or find Pro.Notes at the Apple App Store in the business category.

Thanks for watching.

LifeTopix 7.0 and My.Agenda 2.0 Guided Tour

Team LightArrow is very excited about our new updates of LifeTopix and My.Agenda. Our new updates include several new features to maximize your productivity at home, at work, and while you’re on the go. Keep reading to learn how you can take advantage of the latest features.

Shopping Improvements

We’re super excited about the Shopping topic’s complete redesign. I encourage you to explore this topic and experience the new features for yourself, and I’ll touch on the highlights here.

The Shopping topic is now so feature rich, it’s available as a stand-alone app for those who only wish to manage shopping and coupons. You can find the stand-alone app at the Apple App Store (My.Shopping).

You’ll first notice the new view of the Shopping topic. It’s redesigned to make it easier to add and view shopping items, shopping lists, things to sell, gifts for others, gifts received, coupons, products, and sellers. You’ll see the shopping items, lists, etc. that are due or coming due in the What Matters Now “ribbon” and items you haven’t purchased yet in the Open Shopping Items “ribbon.” The plus sign makes it easy to add shopping items on the fly from this view. The following image shows the redesigned Shopping view.

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LightArrow apps support multiple shopping lists for those who prefer to manage their shopping into separate lists. For example, you might want to create back-to-school lists, grocery lists, business list items, home improvement items, etc. A great feature included with the Shopping list view is the ability to view items by seller or category. The categories you create are completely configurable by you; therefore, you might create categories by grocery aisle, type of grocery item, price level, etc — whatever makes you more productive. You can also view your lists by open or bought items to ensure you’re not returning to the grocery store, office supply store, or mall to pick up the items that you forgot to purchase.

Another great Shopping List feature is the ability to share lists via email with a friend, spouse, housemate or partner. They can open a list directly in their LifeTopix or My.Agenda app from their email. Also, if you’ve set up device-to-device sync and both users are sharing the same Dropbox folder for data, you can share and collaborate using the same shopping list. The following image shows the redesigned Shopping List view.

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Another great addition is how coupons are managed. The coupon management is intended to save you time and money by helping you keep track of coupons and their expiration dates.

For stores that allow electronic versions of coupons, you can take photos of the coupons and access them directly from your app. You can take note of your coupons and add an expiration date. When you’ve added a date tag for coupons, you’ll know immediately when they are going to expire because they will appear in the “What Matters Now” section of the Shopping view as well as the Agenda view. The following image shows the redesigned Coupon view.

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Notes + Files Improvements

We’re equally excited about the Notes + Files topic’s complete redesign. I encourage you to explore this topic and experience the new features for yourself, and I’ll touch on the highlights here.

Notes + Files is now so feature rich, it’s available as a stand-alone app for those who only wish to manage notes, checklists/to-do lists, and online files and notes. You can find the stand-alone apps at the Apple App store (Pro.Notes and My.Notes).

You’ll first notice the new view of the Notes + Files topic. It’s redesigned to make it easier to add and view notes, files, checklists, and drawings. You’ll see the notes and lists that are due or coming due in the What Matters Now “ribbon” and items you recently added or updated in the Recent Items “ribbon.” The plus sign makes it easy to add note items on the fly from this view. The following image shows the redesigned Notes + Files view.

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The drawing capabilities in LifeTopix and My.Agenda have spectacular improvements. The drawing tools have been combined into one control, and a landscape view is now available. Drawing tools include 24 beautiful colors with alpha options; linewidth choices; eraser; clear; undo; print; and email capabilities for drawings. Printing is also available for notes and drawings. Users can now share their drawings via Facebook and Twitter directly from the drawing view.

The following image shows the redesigned drawing view.

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People + Services Improvements

If you’re thrilled about the changes to the Shopping topic and the Notes + Files topic, then you’ll also be excited to see the changes to the People + Services topic. People + Services can now be your central portal for finding information about and contacting your friends, family, colleagues, clients, and service providers.

You’ll notice that we’ve also updated the view with a “ribbon” showing Recent Items and Groups. The following image shows the redesigned People + Services view.

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Imagine the possibilities for keeping in touch with family, clients, friends, and other colleagues. From a central location, you can see their phone number, email address, birthday, anniversary, notes, association with LifeTopix items, and last Twitter and Facebook message for each of your contacts that you’ve set up in LifeTopix or My.Agenda. Instantly, you can send a text message, email, Tweet, or send a Facebook message. You can keep categories — allowing you to easily find your family members, clients, or friends by group. And, as always, the contacts work with your iOS calendar.

The following image shows the redesigned Person view.

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Dynamic Schedules

When scheduling tasks, you can now select the option of Dynamic. If you choose this option, each task is only created after the previous task is cancelled or completed. The Pre-Create option creates all the tasks at once. The new option, Dynamic, is very useful for tasks that need to be completed in a pre-defined or designated order.

Dynamic Schedules

Custom Month Schedules

Custom repeat schedules are now available for tasks and appointments (events). After selecting the month option, you can select specified dates or days on which the appointment or task occurs. This is very useful for events or tasks that are repeated, but occur on varying days.

Custom Month Schedule

Repeat Schedule Preview

We added a preview for scheduling events, as shown in the image below. This ensures that you’ve properly set up a recurring appointment, class or meeting.

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Copy a Project

Due to popular demand, you’re now able to copy a project. The category, description, and starting and end dates are copied to the new project. The following image shows how to copy a project:

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Search

Searching has been improved, our apps now search the content of notes, allowing you to find important information that you’ve added to notes. Also, checklist item titles have been added to search.

Unified Login Management

LifeTopix and My.Agenda include integrations for Twitter™, Facebook™, Dropbox™, SkyDrive™, Evernote®, Toodledo®, and Asana™. To make it easier to enter your credentials for these apps and services, we’ve included a new view for managing your login name and password. To find the new view, go to Settings and tap Logins for Integrations. The following image shows an example of the new view.

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Near Me / Maps Improvements

The Near Me feature includes significant improvements. You can now set locations for service providers, which allows you to better plan your errands to save time and gas. For example, you might add locations for your favorite dry cleaners, grocery stores, markets, or other providers — and refer to them in the Near Me view so you can make sure to locate the providers that are close to your current area while running errands. You will also notice when you’re specifying locations for providers and other items, that the search has been improved.

Refer to the following image to see an example of search when I enter the term “grocery.”

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Photos, Audio, And Video Clips in My Calendar

You now have the option of viewing photos, audio, and video clips in My Calendar. To add or remove the view of these items in your calendar, tap the filter icon in the upper right of the calendar to view the screen shown in the following image. Check the boxes for the items that you wish to view.

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Bonus Theme Colors

If you create an App Store rating from your LightArrow app, the app will provide you with bonus theme colors. The colors are a surprise; however, the following image shows where to start.

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Paid Amount in Bills

When creating a bill payment, you can now enter the paid amount. This is useful to track when the paid amount is different than the amount due. The payment list screen displays the due amount along with the paid amount and the payment template displays the balance.

Full Screen View of Notes Text

We understand that many of you would prefer to see a larger screen version of your notes; therefore, we’ve allowed you to do just that. The following image shows the expanded screen, and how to collapse the screen back to the previous view:

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Smart Conversion

We’ve added the ability for you to convert your device reminders to tasks and shopping items. For example, you might ask Siri to create a reminder for picking up milk to create a device reminder, but this item is better suited as a shopping item. To convert it, tap the icon with the three green dots (or) tap and hold the item to proceed with the conversion. The following image shows an example of converting the item from the Agenda view.

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Additional Alerts

There are now more options in Settings for reminders (alerts) on device calendar events. The following options were added:

  • Remind 15 minutes before
  • Remind 30 minutes before
  • Remind 1 hour before
  • Remind 2 hours before
  • Remind 4 hours before
  • Remind 12 hours before

The following image shows an example of the new settings.

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User-defined Startup View

Now you can define the view that is launched at the time of starting your app. You will find this setting in the My Settings view.

Keep in mind that this setting only takes effect when the app is first started; therefore, you will need to close LifeTopix or My.Agenda and start it again.

Your options include:

  • Home
  • Hot List
  • My Topics
  • My Calendar
  • Recent
  • My Inboxes
  • My Contexts
  • Near Me
  • My Apps
  • Engage
  • Settings
  • Help Center

The following image shows how to specify the default view:

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Reorder Apps in My Apps

The My Apps view allows you to launch other apps from your LifeTopix or My.Agenda app making it easier to launch your favorite apps from one location. You’re now able to reorder these apps as you please by tapping the reorder icon in the upper left, and then dragging and dropping the app into your preferred order. The following image shows an example.

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Miscellaneous Improvements

Defect fixes and speed improvements have also been applied to this release, as well as the additions below:

  • Comment field added to shopping items.
  • When viewing the calendar by week, the app autoscrolls to the first item.
  • Checklists now include due dates.

We hope this helps you understand how to leverage the new features in LifeTopix 7.0 and My.Agenda 2.0. Enjoy!