How to Increase Your Personal Productivity

Sarah was envious of her colleague who manages to get off work on time every day. She seems to be able to accomplish all her projects on time. In addition to that, she has the time to offer help to the rest of her members on her team. Sarah, on the other hand has to take her work home in order to complete her project on time.

Her colleague, Betty always has a list to check off from before she leaves for the day. In addition, she has a separate list whereby she lists her task for the next day. She wondered if that small piece of paper laid the secret to her personal productivity. Sarah decided to find out from her colleague, Betty.

According to Betty, the small list which she wrote out the day before allows her to plan her day the next day. This is indeed one of her secrets to personal productivity and helps her to plan out her work the day before. She knows exactly what she needs to get done and accomplish for the day.

Besides that, these are the three additional personal productivity tips she has to share with her.

#1 Do a time audit

Time is a finite resource. In order to increase your personal productivity, you have to know how you are spending your time. A single table listing every activity you do and the time taken for each will reveal how you are spending your time. For instance, Betty discovered during the time audit that she was previously spending a lot of time surfing the Internet the minute she logged onto her email account at the beginning of the day. Thus, she decided to read work related email once she has completed her most vital task for the day instead of at the beginning of her work day.

#2 Set Goals

In order to make best use of your time, you have to set goals. The best way to manage your daily activities is to take your annual goals and break them into monthly, weekly and daily action steps to take.

You can better manage your time on a daily basis if you first begin the day by listing the tasks that need to be accomplished. By having a list of goals, you can also evaluate your progress on a daily basis.

#3 Monitor your progress

What gets measured improves. Once you have listed your tasks for the day, you have to evaluate your progress.

For a start, evaluate your progress on an hourly basis to ensure you have accomplished what you have set out to do in that hour. Once you are familiar with this process, you can evaluate your progress on a daily basis and subsequently on a weekly basis.

To continue to find new ways to increase your productivity at work, always take an hour a month to evaluate your activities and list down the things that can be delegated to free up your time. This one hour investment of your time also allows you to improve the process at work. You can further improve your personal productivity by using personal productivity tools.

The key to increasing your personal productivity lies in identifying your tie wasters, setting goals and evaluating your progress regularly.

Defining Personal Productivity

For me, personal productivity means the ability to deliver results when needed, may it be something to your boss or for yourself. Furthermore, the results should be achieved without too much negative stress. How often have you achieved this? Most of us have been truly productive quite seldom. I think that this is something that can be developed, by learning a specific set of six crucial skills. I’ll run them down for you below.

Learning is important for personal productivity. Just think about all the new stuff and things we need to learn, only to keep functioning. If nothing else, the user interface of Facebook has suddenly changed, and you have to learn that all again. Ways to learn more easily include faster reading, using mind maps, and for the more advanced also mnemonics (the art of memory tricks).

Organization skills are also very important, as we are constantly overflowed with new things, papers, and information. Some things we should keep and store, others we should immediately get rid of, or they will just increase the amount of clutter lying around. Personal organization methods can really come handy at such situations. Just think what it means to your productivity,when you manage to find that receipt from 2 months ago within 30 seconds of the situation when you need them.

I see time management as a sub skill to personal productivity. With time management, we refer to the art of keeping your calendar in order, and managing task and email. Good time management also means minimizing the time used for procrastination.

In order to get results, we also have to keep fit mentally. Stress will wear you down, if you are not careful. Luckily there exists practices like mediation, but doing sports and meting friends will do as well. The point is, however, this: even in the most hectic work situations, keep calm. With a stable mind, everything is easier, which leads to increased productivity.

One interesting area is creativity. Our work today if filled with problems, and basically we all get paid for solving them. Can you imagine that there actually exists dozens of small tools to help you on that area? Having creativity handy when you need it, will help you finish that presentation your boss is waiting for, making you both happy. Your boss gets his fast delivery, and you can go home earlier.

Last but not least we have decision making. We all know people who cannot make even the smallest decision, they simply don’t have the guts to do it. What do I say again? There exists tools to help you.

Putting in some effort and studying even little in the areas above will help your personal productivity.

Your Personal Products Are Dangerous – Find Out Why (And What to Do)

If you’re a canny shopper then read on, because you might find some of the following information extremely useful.

That’s because canny shoppers are slowly beginning to realise that you have to be very careful when you choose your personal products in the supermarket or elsewhere. Unfortunately many of the personal products that so many of us consume every single day can be dangerous.

Yes, unfortunately it’s true. These products, including soaps, shampoos, deodorants, skin care products, cosmetics and much more can contain chemical ingredients which are, in many cases, known to be dangerous to our health and even to cause cancer.

Whilst this is not new there is a gradual ground swell of organisations and people who are attempting to publicise the fact that many brands of product should be avoided.

Unfortunately the problem stems from the fact that regulation in many countries is inadequate to force the companies that manufacture many of these products to use only known safe ingredients.

In many cases there is little or no official supervision of any of the ingredients which are used in personal products, and for this reason many of the ingredients used in our personal products are industrial chemicals which are known to cause health problems for people.

Whole organisations are dedicated to publicising this issue. Two such organisations are the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, which seeks to alert people to the risks involved in using many brands of cosmetics and other personal products, and the Cosmetic Safety Database which gives people a place to go to search both ingredients found in many products as well as the products themselves to find out the perceived level of risk in using the product or the ingredient.

I’ll give you one quick example. Many products include some form of fragrance. After all it doesn’t like to smell good? However unfortunately many fragrances are simply a combination of chemicals, many of which are known to be risky to your health.

These chemicals are rarely if ever listed, all you will ever see on the label is some generic terms such as “fragrance”. No one knows what chemicals make up the fragrance.

So if you’re a canny shopper it will pay you to do some research online to find out more about how to find safe cosmetics, safe skin care products and other safe products when you’re buying for yourself and your family. There are high quality and safe products available, but they’re not the big brand names.

Spend some time online, research and learn as much as you can, starting with the organisations that are listed above, and you can be an educated and canny consumer who knows what to buy and what to avoid when you’re looking to stock your bathroom cabinet.

Gamification For Productivity

“Gamification” has become a buzzword in recent years among the tech crowd, but it has spilled over into other arenas as well. With the pervasiveness of smartphone apps and new websites popping up every day, “gamification” seems to be everywhere. At its simplest, it’s just a way of introducing elements of gaming into other tasks.

There are lots of ways to do this: common elements include earning points, gaining levels, and sometimes earning achievements, badges, or prizes. There’s gamification for working out, buying coffee, listening to music, shopping, recycling, and eating out. While retailers and marketers have been using gamification to their best advantage, gamification can also be used to increase productivity, whether in individuals or in a team.

To encourage general productivity, take a look at HabitRPG, which has a website and an iOS app. At its heart, it’s a to-do app, but “RPG” stands for Role-Playing Game, which HabitRPG uses to incentivize productivity. There are four different elements when you start out using the program: habits, dailies, to-dos, and rewards. Habits are actions that you want to either encourage or avoid, but don’t have a specific frequency. Dailies are tasks that you want to repeat on a regular basis: every day, once a week, etc. To-dos are one-off tasks like on any other to-do app. Rewards are things you can purchase by completing your tasks. You earn a certain amount of gold and a certain amount of experience points for each task. Experience points let you level up and eventually unlock different game elements. Gold allows you to buy rewards. As you level up, the game introduces a market, item drops, pets, armor, and other elements. It’s a fun way to keep all of your productivity items in one place with a dynamic and well thought-out incentive scheme.

If you like the idea of a gamified productivity app but don’t need quite as many features, Carrot is an iOS app with a mean streak. It’s a minimalist to-do app that is very user friendly and unlocks features as you gain points. Be warned, though: Carrot has a personality, and if you don’t complete your tasks, she gets angry. How many points you get and how she talks to you depend on what mood she’s in. Carrot is a quirky app that is probably the most unique of the bunch, and worth checking out if only for its surprises.

EpicWin is another RPG productivity program that gives you points and prizes for your real-world tasks. Here again, you can choose your character and level them up as you go. You can’t yet spend gold on things, but EpicWin is in the process of being developed.

If you’re looking to be more productive with a specific task or process, try SuperBetter. SuperBetter gives you tasks, quests, power-ups, and “bad guys” depending on your specific journey, like exercising more, increasing willpower, stress relief, or improving your relationships. It’s not a productivity app in itself, but improving these aspects of your life can definitely improve the rest of it.

If the area of productivity you’re struggling with is managing your finances, there are programs for that, as well. SaveUp is a program tailored to incentivize saving and making smart financial choices. It gives you credits for the choices you make, and you can cash them in to contests with real prizes, or you can cash them out. SmartyPig is a website that also focuses on saving, though a little less gamified than SaveUp. SmartyPig makes saving automatic, and it also rewards you for meeting your goals.

If you’re not so interested in using apps or websites, gamification doesn’t have to involve technology: you can use game elements on your own. The best way to go about it is to start by identifying the tasks that you have a hard time completing or that you want to incentivize. For each of those tasks, determine a point value. You may also want to assign them different categories. Maybe doing the dishes gets you two blue points, but cleaning the bathroom gets you eight red points.

From there, identify rewards, positive (but not goal-subverting) actions or items, and assign them point values as well. Then, to get your rewards, you first have to do enough tasks to afford them. Don’t stop there. When you’re defining your own system, you can get pretty creative. Find ways to allow you to “level up” or do a boss battle: what really big challenge do you have coming up, or what milestone can you celebrate passing? Give yourself constant ways to progress, and you’ll see yourself finding ways to become more productive while having a little fun on the way.