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5 Productivity Tools for the Busy Freelancer

5 Productivity Tools for the Busy Freelancer

Do you struggle for productivity? I, for one, find it hard to stay focused and productive all the time. It is often easy to lose focus with a ton of buzzing social networks all around us. But the good news is there are tricks and tools to overcome distractions and constantly stay on track of productivity.

Here are 5 great apps I am using every day to efficiently manage my time online. They all help me to get tasks done faster than before. What’s more, their interface and design is super slick so finding your way around these tools shouldn’t take long. Click Here to Read Article …

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How to Focus with Pomodoro Technique

 

 

I showed up at a meeting one year ago and realized that I had four Internet-connected devices.  Yes, two laptops, an iPad and an iPhone were at the ready, all beeping and buzzing in synchronization with meeting reminders and new email notifications. The craziest part was that this felt normal to me.

With all of these devices constantly beeping and vibrating, it’s no wonder I was unable to get anything done without constant interruptions. I needed a new way of working. Luckily, I found the Pomodoro Technique. Click Here to Read Article …

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3 Ways To Get Unstuck

Sometimes you just get stuck.

Whether you’re a writer and you…just…can’t…find…the next thought or you catch a glimpse of the sunny skies outside your office window and you start to daydream, it happens.  The biggest step to moving ahead is to get “unstuck.”  Here are a few quick tips on how to get your mind on track and get back to the task at hand:

1. Indulge

Just go with it.  If you can’t stop thinking about next weekend, then don’t.  If you can’t get that next sentence on that report, then don’t.  Distract yourself, but do it productively.  Pick up the phone and make plans for the weekend.  If that next sentence won’t come out, then start to write about something else – make plans for what’s to come, perhaps.  Sometimes you have to indulge in what’s got you stuck before you can get out of it.  It’s like quicksand: the more you fight it, the quicker you’ll sink.

2. Insist

You can go the opposite way of indulging and insist you push through what’s on your plate.  It’s not the most pleasant way to go, but the short-term pain leads to long-term gain.  Think about what’s beyond the task at hand; that’ll help you get done what you need to now so that you can get to where you need to be next.

3. Inquire

Start asking yourself questions.  Does this “getting stuck” happen often?  Does it happen with just this type of work, or with a lot of what you do?  Sometimes searching for the answers to these initial questions will give you a lot of scope as to what really lies beneath.  Sometimes it’ll just get you moving again.  Sometimes it’ll get you moving on.

Do you have strategies that you put into practice when you get stuck?  What do you do to get unstuck?  Let us know in the comments. Click Here to Read Article …

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World Cup Productivity Watch

Except in the United States (for the most part), the World Cup is a huge deal.  My brother, for example, works for an American multinational in Brazil and the company had to bring in TV sets for workers to watch games lest half the office be out sick on game days.  It’s just the way it is there – we love football – and foreigners doing business with Brazil just need to adjust.  But if you’re the person trying to get some information from my brother while he and his co-workers are watching a game, you might get frustrated.  Who cares if they’ll make up for the work later, you need the numbers now!

So, is the World Cup affecting your work?  If so, how are you dealing with it? Click Here to Read Article …

How Do You Handle Distractions?

Some people use headphones or a closed door to tell office mates when they’d rather not be disturbed. Some resort to web plugins to block certain websites that are just too good to resist (I’m looking at you, Facebook and ApartmentTherapy!). Others could work just fine with the TV blaring, phone ringing, and small children screaming incoherently.

How do you deal with distractions?

Do you put up a “Do Not Disturb” sign? Lock yourself in a secluded room without TV or phone service? Or are you one of those lucky few who don’t get fazed by noise or other disruptions?

As a work-at-home freelance writer without kids or pets, I don’t have many of the same distractions that office workers or even work-at-home parents have. Still, there are plenty of cyber-distractions threatening to hijack my productivity. I give myself a few minutes of Facebook and Twitter time each day (after all, social media is like my virtual water cooler and without it out I might go stir crazy all day by myself). Then it’s “back to work, missy.” Occasionally, when deadlines loom and household chores beckon, I might escape to the library or coffee shop.

What about you?  While there are some suggestions here, we want to hear from our WorkAwesome readership…let us know in the comments. Click Here to Read Article …

Are Smartphones a Productivity Tool?

When I bought a BlackBerry Pearl two years ago, it was almost revelatory.

“You mean I can check my email or catch up on RSS feeds while waiting at the bus station or standing in line at the grocery store?! Yes, please!”

I quickly discovered that with a BlackBerry, it’s faster to axe a bunch of unimportant emails at once than it is to open them individually, so that reduced my daily email time. The ability to look up an address or live tweet from a conference or wherever is nice, too.

Smartphones are touted as a productivity tool, but are they really? All that 24/7 accessibility has its downsides, too. First, there’s the threat of burnout (you can’t be very productive if your brain is fried) and the constant distractions. All those apps, the endless email checking, and texting can keep you from real work, not to mention that they can keep you from staying in the moment and enjoying time-off.

Do you think smartphones help or hinder productivity? For those of you who own a smartphone, which one do you use? Are you an iPhone fanatic, an Android addict, or a CrackBerry connoisseur?  Let us know in the comments. Click Here to Read Article …

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Pac-Man Eats Up Productivity

Last week’s playable Pac-Man game on Google’s home page (permanently playable here, by the way) may have been awesome for those nostalgic about playing the game – the iconic video game turned 30 last week – but it sure did sap the productivity out of the day for most.

A report by software firm Rescue Time (developers of time-tracking software) revealed that nearly 5 million hours of work time was eaten up by the little guy.  Totally awesome in one way, not so much in another.

Admittedly, I played it for a spell once I came across the page.  I was obviously not alone.  How many WorkAwesome readers chased Clyde and the gang around?

UPDATE: The dollar value is in. Whoa. Click Here to Read Article …

Dealing With “The Impossible” At Work

The novel Catch-22 by Joseph Heller is a “satirical critique of bureaucratic operation and reasoning.” The book is famous, unique and hilarious, but the term “Catch-22″ itself has become more popular than the book it came from. The phrase may seem old and obscure, but it’s still part of the English lexicon, and it’s been used most recently in popular TV shows like Lost and The Office. Click Here to Read Article …

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Habits That Annoy Your Cubicle Mates

There are certain habits that one has at home that should not be brought into Cube Land.  We all have our habits and though we may disagree on what’s acceptable in our personal lives, the workplace is a different story as there are certain things that just do not belong in it at all.  There is always the problem with the exposed belly for example (or the butt cleavage!).  Then there are those things that I had thought were even more obvious but obviously they weren’t. Click Here to Read Article …

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Handling Interruptions Realistically

You’ve read the usual advice on career, productivity and self-development  blogs when it comes to handling interruptions at work. Firewall your attention. Don’t check email. Stay off of Facebook and Twitter. All good suggestions, but they’re tautologies equivalent to saying that the best way to avoid distractions is to be undistractable. We’ve read that the typical office worker is interrupted every three minutes, that it takes 15 minutes to recover from each interruption, that interruptions cost the country $12 trillion in lost productivity (the number fluctuates radically). We get it: interruptions are not welcome. Click Here to Read Article …

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Don’t Increase Your Willpower — Reduce Your Options

A little over a year ago, I started going on a low information diet. Rather than just reduce the number of feeds in my RSS reader, I dumped them all in one shot. I knew myself well enough to realize that I would open up the reader the moment I felt the need to postpone taking action on something important. So I still found myself opening the reader, but there was nothing in it that would serve as a tool for procrastination. Rather than just limiting my email consumption to one or two scheduled sessions per day, I added Gmail.com to Leechblock, a Firefox extension that blocks your access to designated sites for designated time periods.

The principle is simple: it’s easier to increase our concentration by controlling our environment than controlling our attention. By setting the conditions in which we operate on the front end, we spare ourselves the order of having to make moment-to-moment decisions for staying on task. I kept trying to open GReader and Gmail, despite my conscious commitment to the low information diet. The problem isn’t changing a behavior, it’s changing a habit, and a habit is much more deep-seated and has more momentum than a single action.

Click Here to Read Article …

Four Strategies for Increasing Email Productivity

If you want to know what people value most, look at which email subject lines get the fastest replies from them. You’ll find that issues you consider priorities aren’t valued equally by others, and vice versa, which makes one-size-fits-all policies like “check email twice a day” or “turn off email notifications” awkward to implement company-wide.

Regardless of the medium, one person’s communication is another person’s distraction. So how do you get anything done in a culture where expectations for email turnaround are frustratingly vague? How do you deal with your own email overload? Click Here to Read Article …

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