Solopreneurs and Freelancers – Is Your New Year’s Resolution to Get Organized and Productive?

GTD Basics – Methods for Clarifying Actions and To Dos in LifeTopix

LifeTopix is an all-in-one productivity app for iPad and iPhone. We have many customers who follow David Allen’s Getting Things Done® (GTD) method and use LifeTopix to stay organized and productive. Many of these customers ask about the most efficient ways to use LifeTopix for GTD® and our best practices.

GTD, LifeTopix and the Clarifying Phase

David Allen rewrote the “Getting Things Done” book for 2015 and beyond, which was originally published in 2001. In addition, LifeTopix has evolved since we first published the popular post, “Best Practices for Getting Things Done – Processing” in 2013. We strive to keep our customers up-to-date and hope you enjoy the new information we’re providing for you today.

We previously published a post about how to capture and collect all the things that are in your head and how to get them outside your head in LifeTopix. It is titled “GTD Basics – Methods for Capturing Items in LifeTopix.” We encourage you to take a look at the previous post before diving into this one.

Today, we’re covering what to do with actions, projects and to dos that you’ve collected after you decide what they are and what you want to do with them. In David Allen’s book, he refers to this phase as “Clarifying.”

Watch the Video

Important Information About LifeTopix Integrations

We understand that many of you want to use LifeTopix at the office and you want to ensure that it works with the applications that you commonly use. This is why LifeTopix is integrated with many of your favorite apps and applications. You can access docs, tasks and notes in LifeTopix from Dropbox™, Google Drive or Box™; Toodledo®, Asana™ or Google Drive; and Evernote® or Toodledo®, respectively. And LifeTopix works seamlessly with iOS calendars and reminders.

More to Come

In the next few weeks, we’ll be posting more videos and tips to assist you with utilizing LifeTopix for GTD. Please subscribe to the Life Blog to stay up-to-date.

Learn about the next phases: 

GTD Basics – Methods for Organizing Actions and To Dos in LifeTopix

GTD Basics – Methods for Reflecting and Weekly Reviews in LifeTopix

GTD® and Getting Things Done® are registered trademarks of the David Allen Company. LightArrow Apps are not affiliated with or endorsed by the David Allen Company.

8 Common Time Management and Productivity Mistakes That Moms Make

 

Mom and Baby

In our modern world, we have demands on our time that our parents’ generation never even dreamed about. Our children have more challenging schedules; school is more competitive than ever before; and the modern digital world presents distractions that would have been science fiction in our parents’ time.

If you feel like you don’t have enough time in your day and you’re struggling to stay on top of things, keep reading to learn about these 8 mistakes that you might be making.

1. You Spend Too Much Time Online

We’re fortunate that we have access to information anywhere and at any time. However, the availability of information is a mixed blessing. According to the 2014 Millennial Mom Report, Millennial Moms spend nearly 8.3 hours on a typical weekday using digital media. This includes tablet, smartphone, laptop, TV streaming, radio and television. And the Gen X moms are not immune. They’re right behind them with an average of 7.4 hours of daily media use.

As you probably know, once you get online you can fall down a slippery slope. You pop on Pinterest to see if there’s a new recipe for a Gluten-free, Paleo stew and before you know it, you’re bombarded with beautiful and enticing photos of DIY projects, summer outfits and new hairstyles. You’re sucked in and suddenly you’re at the hardware store purchasing the materials to make a Mason jar chandelier.

It’s interesting that parents limit the screen time of their children; however, many are not setting the limits on themselves. Think about the amount of time that you spend plugged in. You might find that your time could be spent more productively elsewhere.

2. You Don’t Make Time for Exercise

Many moms don’t make the time for exercise because they’re busy with their career and parenting. Again, according the 2014 Millennial Mom Report, on average, Millennial Moms spend -0.8 hours a day exercising. If you’re a regular exerciser, congratulations, you can skip to the next section!

What many moms don’t realize is there are hidden productivity benefits of exercise. Exercise doesn’t just provide weight loss and health benefits, such as reducing the risk of diabetes. Getting fit also improves energy level, alertness and might also prevent sicknesses by boosting the circulation of white blood cells.

Think about how you could carve out an extra 30 or 60 minutes a day. Take a brisk walk or a bike ride with your kids and find a gym with a fun daycare. Take a run while your child is at a piano lesson, rather than checking Facebook or Pinterest. Think about other creative ways to make exercise a priority in your life. The productivity results will be amazing!

3. You Over Schedule Your Kids

I’m sure you’ve read about the possible dangers of over-scheduling kids. They get burned out, stressed out and cranky. But what about the moms who schedule, organize and support all of these activities? They aren’t immune to the same effects. An overly busy schedule can consume a considerable amount of time in many moms’ lives. Between tutors, sports, music lessons and other activities, moms spend numerous hours supporting kids’ events. It takes a toll on health and sucks away time that could be used more productively.

This doesn’t mean that you should eliminate stimulating activities. Find a healthy balance. Ensure you have a support system. Take turns carpooling with other parents; divide and conquer with your spouse or partner; and elicit the help from older children. If you still can’t find the time to prepare a healthy dinner and your kids are finishing their homework past 10:00 at night, it’s time to re-prioritize these activities.

4. You Do Everything For Your Kids

Out of all of the items listed here, this is the one that I’m most guilty of. As a busy working mom, I sometimes find it easier just to take care of things myself then to teach my son to do it. Big mistake.

It’s likely that you’ve heard the Chinese proverb, “give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” The same is true for our kids. Teaching them life skills such as doing dishes, choosing their clothes, doing laundry, learning to drive, taking care of pets, making beds, etc. frees your time and teaches them how to be responsible. Of course, it can be frustrating at first – especially when your son chooses to wear superhero tights with a tuxedo jacket to school. However, you’ll pat yourself on the back when they’re packing up boxes and heading to college.

5. You Make Mental Lists

When you’re a busy parent, it gets harder and harder to keep up with the demands on your schedule. And when you’re relying on memory alone to keep things straight, items are bound to fall through the cracks. The human brain is only equipped to remember a few things at a time. And it’s also a well-known fact that trying to remember too many things can lead to anxiety and stress.

If you haven’t started using a calendar, day planner or personal organization app on your Smartphone for managing your schedule and keeping track of to do lists, then get started today. Being free of mental clutter takes a huge load off of your shoulders.

6. You’re Ignoring “The Cloud”

I discussed mental clutter above, but what about physical clutter? Physical clutter also negatively impacts productivity. Physical clutter in the form of papers messes with your focus, which makes you less productive. An easy solution to paper clutter is to take advantage of “Cloud Storage.”  If you don’t know what “The Cloud” is, don’t be embarrassed. In fact, according to Citrix, when they surveyed respondents about it, 29% responded that it is a “fluffy white thing” in the sky.

If the Cloud perplexes you, you’re not alone. Without getting technical, it’s essentially an infrastructure of servers (computers that provide data to other computers) that all work together to deliver services to you over the Internet. When you upload files to the Cloud, you’re storing them elsewhere, instead of on your local machine.

Cloud storage is provided to you for free for personal use (until you run out of space). You can take advantage of services such as Dropbox™, Box™, OneDrive™ (SkyDrive) and others to store your important scanned papers. You simply scan, copy and upload those files to the Cloud. It’s actually extremely easy to set up and utilize.

You’re probably wondering how the Cloud is going to save time. Unlike your filing cabinet, Cloud storage opens up the ability to better organize and search using keywords for quick access to files. Not to mention, it clears up the clutter in your home, which frees your mind.

7. You Drink Too Much Coffee

Before writing this post, I asked my teenage son what time management mistakes that he sees moms making. He surprisingly answered, “they go to Starbucks too much.” This made me think about the impact of caffeine on productivity. Caffeine is a double-edged sword. Sure, it wakes you up and may help you focus. However, coffee is a stimulant so it can keep you up at night, which leads to lost productivity. In addition, caffeine dehydrates you, which depletes your energy. If you’re overdoing it, start replacing your afternoon coffee with herbal tea or water. Make sure to stay adequately hydrated to keep your energy level up.

8. You’re Not Planning Ahead

After working in the tech industry for many years – dealing with aggressive deadlines and startup schedules — I learned a thing or two about the best ways to conquer a project. In my opinion, one of the most rewarding and challenging projects you’ll ever face is raising children and running a household. So why not treat it like you would any other project?

In tech, the Agile Methodology is a very popular project management technique. Two excellent takeaways from the Agile Methodology, which you can apply to getting things done at home are ”Planning Meetings” and “Review Meetings.” For example, take the time to conduct a family meeting once a week to plan the activities of the upcoming week and to also reflect upon what went right and what went wrong during the previous week. Discuss meals, shopping lists, activity schedules, homework and career commitments. Your family life will run more smoothly and you’ll get more things done.

Your Turn

Are you making any of these mistakes? What are the roadblocks that keep you from getting things done? Comment and let us know!

This Is How We Roll Thursday Feature

How to Organize a Successful Open House

Whether you’re a homeowner, broker or real estate agent, keeping track of the details for open houses can be challenging. With the LifeTopix app for iPhone and iPad, you can effortlessly organize the details of your next open house that you host through LifeTopix “Events,” which is found in the Events + Appointments topic.

View the Presentation – “How to Organize a Successful Open House”

Check out the following slide deck to see how you can take advantage of LifeTopix to better plan open houses. Hint – you’ll get the best view of this deck by downloading it directly from Slideshare.

Managing Real Estate Projects and Tasks With LifeTopix

Real Estate Projects

Managing a busy real estate business can be challenging. As a result, many real estate agents turn to mobile apps to help them manage their day-to-day tasks and real estate projects. However, many list apps and calendar apps that you find these days fall short when you’re trying to manage projects and tasks with your iPhone or iPad.

Manage Real Estate Projects and Tasks With an All-In-One Productivity App

With many apps you’re able to create a do list or create calendar events, but for any meaty project, you’re left wanting more. This is when LifeTopix for iPhone and iPad can help. LifeTopix provides an effortless way to manage and track projects and tasks – anywhere, anytime. With LifeTopix, you can create projects and tasks, which assist you in tackling all sorts of home and business projects.

Watch the Video

Watch the following video to see how you can manage real estate and other projects with ease.

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.

8 Best Life Hacks to Beat Procrastination

LightArrow Stop Procrastination

No matter how brainy, ambitious and gifted you are, if you lack the willpower to get things done it’s difficult to achieve success. Before you give up on yourself, understand it’s natural to procrastinate. Everybody does it – some more than others.

To help you stop procrastinating and to get things done, we compiled a list of our favorite life hacks for slaying the procrastination monster.

1. Don’t Get Stuck in Analysis Paralysis

Don’t overthink a project or task before you get started on it. If you dwell on it, no action will be taken – hence paralysis. Planning projects is important, but if you get stuck in the planning phase before you have every unknown answered, it’s impossible to move forward. Set a time limit for project planning and just get going. Answers will become apparent and blockages will be resolved as time passes.

2. Beware of High Standards

Have you ever heard the quote by Voltaire, “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good?” If you fall into the trap of failing to get started on a project because you have the fear that it won’t be perfect, you’ll never get moving. I always remind myself, especially in creative endeavors, that perfection is subjective. My perception of perfect is completely different than your perception of perfect. Let go of your fear and move forward. Forget perfection and focus on progress.

3. Work Against the Clock

Sometimes we procrastinate on starting a project because we think we have a long time to do it. Have you ever heard of Parkinson’s Law? Cyril Parkinson, a British historian, identified this scientific law in 1955. Essentially, it identifies that work expands to fill the time available for its completion. For example, if you give yourself a week to write an essay it will essentially take the entire week instead of a more appropriate time period, such as a few hours.

You can beat procrastination by setting a deadline for all your tasks and by determining the appropriate amount of time to complete them. Set aside the proper amount of time for your tasks at hand and stick to the schedule. Schedule these projects and tasks on your calendar or place them in a to-do list with an appropriate time limit.

4. Find Value in Your Projects or Tasks

Often times we procrastinate on tasks because we don’t believe they have any value. If your tasks aren’t aligned to your goals in work and life then it’s difficult to get motivated to get started. Examine the value of the task. For example, perhaps you’re on the high school football team and you’re focused on becoming a professional football player. In your situation, studying for your Algebra exam might seem like a low priority; however, passing grades are required to stay on the team. Focus on the value of good grades to get started and stay motivated.

5. Break it Down

In work and life there’s always tasks and chores that we find mundane. It’s just a fact of life. Whether it’s doing laundry, working out, creating your weekly status report or making dinner – there’s always tasks that you can’t escape. Of course, many of us tend to procrastinate on these humdrum tasks.

Breaking chores and tasks into smaller chunks is a great way to tame the procrastination beast. The task or chore doesn’t seem as daunting if you break it down. For example, don’t create your weekly status report one hour before it’s due on Friday afternoon. During the week, add your accomplishments to the status report as you complete them. This way, you can reward yourself with a less stressful Friday afternoon at the office, and also make it home on time.

6. Get Started When Your World is Asleep

When I’ve given into procrastination, a trick that I personally use to get back on track is to shift my schedule and complete daunting tasks late at night or early in the morning when everyone else is sleeping. This way, I’m completely uninterrupted by phone calls, barking dogs, email, meetings or other distractions. This strategy helps me to laser focus on the task and finish it well before the deadline. I recommend using this strategy sparingly because lack of sleep can be a significant deterrent to getting things done.

7. Control Impulses

Sometimes it’s difficult to control impulses or urges to do something more entertaining than the tasks we know we need to do. For example, how often do you find yourself watching videos, playing games or reading Twitter posts instead of getting started on an important project or task?

WebMD explains that some of us tend to give into impulses easier than others due to the coordination between the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and the right orbitofrontal cortex. Furthermore, studies concluded that teenagers with less volume in the right orbitofrontal cortex might be more susceptible to lack of impulse control, such as alcohol abuse. The same article explains that it’s never too late to improve impulse control. Marc N. Potenza, MD recommends that you give yourself a small, healthy reward that will lead to a bigger payoff later when you don’t give into your impulses.

8. Work a To-do List into Your Daily Routine

If you’re prone to procrastination, creating a to-do list should be automatic as brushing your teeth every day. Working a to-do list into your daily routine can be key to getting things done. I recommend that you create your to-do list the night before so you’re ready to get started each morning without delay. A daily to-do list usually consists of approximately three to five tasks to complete every day. Immediately start with the most difficult task on your list. This way, you’re working on the task that requires the most energy when you’re fresh.

Our starter productivity app, My.Agenda, is a great way to get started with making a daily to-do list in a digital format with an iPhone or iPad. You can find it for .99 cents at the Apple App Store.

Your Turn

What are your favorite tips for slaying the procrastination monster? Please share!

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!