Posts in Productivity
Productivity trance

I discovered a number of years ago that playing one track of music in an endless loop helped me write the difficult first draft. Some writers and coders use white noise, but another group (I am one) prefer a single musical track in a loop. The kind of music varies by person (I use one specific Russian choir hymn); after a dozen loops the music disappears and what I get is a feeling of comfort, which helps me focus for hours while it repeats. Try it with your song. — KK

Add Weather to your Google Calendar

I like using Google Calendar’s “month view” to plan my life, and I realized it would be helpful if I could see a weather forecast while I’m scheduling hikes and social outings. The easiest way I found to add a weather calendar was here. Now I have a two-week forecast always visible. — C

Quick unsubscribing

I get signed up for a lot of newsletters and PR lists without my consent. I used to take the time to scroll down to the bottom of each email newsletter and click the unsubscribe link (if there was one), but now I just use Gmail’s “Block” to send them forevermore to my spam folder. — MF

Free file conversion

CloudConvert is a free conversion service that supports more than 200 file formats and you don’t have to download any software to use it. I mostly use it to convert Google WebP files into JPEGS so that the images are usable in WordPress and Adobe products. — CD 

Quickly scan pages using your phone

The FineScanner app ($9.99/year) makes it so easy to scan and share documents using only my phone. Batch mode auto-captures and crops pages in seconds turning them into a readable, black & white PDF that I can immediately upload to my iCloud or Google drive. There’s a lot more features and more ways to share that I haven’t explored yet. — CD

Less, More and None

Jacoby Young, who works at an elementary school in Hawaii, created a list on his website called “Less, More, and None,“ which categorizes activities he wants to do less often, more often, or not at all. It’s a great idea. I want to make a similar list for myself. I’m starting with less Twitter, more time outside, and no working on holidays. — MF

ProductivityClaudia Dawson
Focused daydreaming

I am giving up social media and other distractions for the 2 hour rule, which encourages setting aside two hours each week for purposeful mind-wandering. The author of this article touts this method as used by Einstein and other geniuses. He says that while it helps to focus on specific questions, the biggest benefit comes from the time spent after you’ve run out of things to think about. — CD

ProductivityClaudia Dawson
Make better decisions

Upgrade your pros and cons list by assigning additional value. Rate how important each list item is to you from 1 to 5, and when you’re done add them up to find out which has more points. You might find that even if you listed more items in one column the other might affect your life more. — CD

ProductivityClaudia Dawson
Easy brainstorming

I needed an easy way to organize categories in a hierarchical order. It would have been painful to use pen and paper, but thankfully Google led me to MindMeister. The free version was all I needed. There’s a lot of free mind-mapping software out there, but they can be clunky, MindMeister is smooth and intuitive. — CD

ProductivityClaudia Dawson
Sort by reading time

Read Ruler is a must-have if you use Pocket. It sorts all the articles you saved to read later by how long it takes to read. Most of my saves take 5-minutes, so I try to knock them out during my work day when I need a mental break. — CD

ProductivityClaudia Dawson
Article saver

Whenever I come across an article online that I want to read later, I click the Pocket icon on my browser toolbar. It adds the article to a list so I can read it later on my phone when I have time. Pocket also stores the articles offline and presents them in in a stripped-down, easy-to-read format. I use the free version, but there’s a pro version with additional features for $5 per month. — MF

ProductivityClaudia Dawson
To-do notebook

I picked up this surprisingly inexpensive ($5.50) to-do list notebook last month, and I love it. The Maruman Mnemosyne 197 has ruled, perforated pages with two columns of checkboxes. The 80 sheets are ring bound and the cover is stiff, textured black plastic. The paper holds ink very well. — MF

ProductivityClaudia Dawson
No-frills to-do app

I like to blame my To-Do List apps if things don’t get done. I get annoyed with reminders, then turn off notifications, and eventually delete. Daily Zen Planner’s super simplistic design is non-threatening and easy to use. I type up tasks and move them to either the Today or Soon screen. — CD 

ProductivityClaudia Dawson
Free PDF editing

My Acrobat Pro maxed out on being able to reduce the size of a PDF. I used Smallpdf to finish the job and it reduced it by half. It’s free to use twice per hour. There’s a lot of other editing features you can you use too. — CD

ProductivityClaudia Dawson