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The 5 Best Productivity Apps for Entrepreneurs

They keep track of those myriad details of work, so you don’t have to.

Lanna Apisukh

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Mobile-applications

Advanced technology has changed employees’ work habits, the management of their daily goals and the way they accomplish tasks. However, this progress has also brought increased workloads that require multitasking, which eventually may decrease effectiveness. So, how do entrepreneurs actually get any work done?

Related: 15 Time-Tested Apps Your Business Can’t Live Without

Fortunately, technology has made it easier for entrepreneurs to accomplish routine tasks, manage time more efficiently and keep track of responsibilities in a more orderly fashion.

Credit the gaggle of mobile productivity apps now available on the market. However, it’s important to know how to choose the right app for your work style. Below are some of the apps that do a good job helping you to avoid the distractions of everyday demands.

Evernote-app

1. Evernote

Through Evernote’s web and mobile app, you can create digital notebooks for everything from keeping track of your expenses and managing your calendar, to creating slideshow presentations and planning your next trip.

Whether it’s personal or business expenses, keeping track of receipts is impossible for even the most organised of people. By creating one of Evernote’s digital notebooks, you’re able to screen-shot your receipt right after payment, making it easier to locate expenses in the future.

The best way to use Evernote, though, is to take advantage of everything else it has to offer. The more notebooks you add, the more valuable the app becomes.

Try taking snapshots of everything in your office and on your shelves, then insert it all into a notebook and relieve the stress of sorting through papers.

All you have to do is tag the notes you’re taking for easy search access at a later date. It’s a game changer when you’re scrambling for those notes you quickly jotted down during your weekly meetings.

2.  LetterspaceLetterspace-App

It’s imperative for entrepreneurs to make important decisions on the company’s future without neglecting everyday responsibilities and tasks. For example, no one actually enjoys taking notes, but it’s essential. This is where Letterspace comes into play.

It’s a great – and free – note-taking app that utilises hashtags to organise your thoughts into a sophisticated and easy-to-use interface. One of Letterspace’s most beneficial features is the cursor that sits directly above the keyboard.

This feature allows users to move paragraphs of notes around making it easier than ever for entrepreneurs to edit anything from a paragraph switch to a simple typo.

3. HuminHumin-app-Logo

Ask any entrepreneur: He or she will tell you that the essence of business success lies in making the right connections – whether they be for potential new business, partnerships or that next round of funding. Entrepreneurs are constantly networking and conducting meetings, but it can be almost impossible to keep track of how and where you met someone.

Humin handles all of that for you. When you insert information into the app, it remembers all of the tiny details of how and where you met someone, allowing you to actually be in the moment instead of trying to remember information later.

Humin solves this problem by combining your contacts, dialing and voice mailbox to calculate who your most important contacts are.

4. LISTENListen-App

Another productivity app to consider is LISTEN, developed by RealNetworks, the company I work with. LISTEN’s innovative app utilises ringback tone technology to respond to incoming calls when you’re too busy to answer the phone.

Its newly released 2.0 features also include auto SMS reply capabilities which, when enabled, respond to both inbound calls and incoming text messages. You can also customise both your voice and SMS responses, giving contacts a specific heads-up (e.g., “About to close on a deal; let me call you back!”).

LISTEN further boasts such 2.0 personalisation features as Calendar Integration (syncs your auto replies with your meetings) and Location Detection, which responds to calls and text messages based on your geographic location.  Also be sure to try LISTEN’s Drive mode, which will play a status message informing callers (and texters) when you’re behind the wheel.

5. WorkflowWorkflow-app

Time management is yet another key part to building and running a successful business. Managing workflow is the foundation of utilising time effectively. With the Workflow app, you’re able to customise your phone so you can bypass tasks that are a waste of time.

Related: 5 Apps Every Entrepreneur Needs to Stay Organised

For example, you can call an Uber in advance of your next calendar event or create a button to give your mom a quick call. Workflow allows you to create any type of button for any type of activity that you may do on a regular basis and with the simple click of that button your task is being completed.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

Lanna joined RealNetworks in 2014 and supports global marketing efforts for the company’s Mobile Entertainment division, which delivers ringback tones, apps and mobile entertainment services to carriers and device manufacturers worldwide. In 2013, RealNetworks launched LISTEN, the first direct-to-consumer smartphone app that allows consumers to easily customise their callers’ experiences with music and special messages.

Get Organised

4 Psychological Reasons Entrepreneurs Should Embrace Procrastination

Do you struggle with procrastination at the office? If so, believe it or not, it might not be such a bad thing.

Lucas Miller

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procrastination

There’s always something you’d rather be doing. Even right now, you might be reading this article in an attempt to avoid carrying out a less palatable endeavor.

Procrastination is normal, and especially so these days. Social media, streaming television and movies, the ease of internet access, and the ubiquity of smartphones can all distract. There are ample reasons why people procrastinate, and it’s always been thought of as a blockade to productivity.

But the perception of procrastination doesn’t always match the reality.

“Procrastination is not just avoiding or delaying a task,” says David Ballard, head of the American Psychological Association’s Center for Organisational Excellence. “It also has to include an aspect that’s counterproductive, irrational or unnecessary.”

In fact, active procrastination can often help you get more things done. Below are four psychological reasons entrepreneurs should sometimes lean into procrastination

1. Procrastination helps spur creativity

West Wing creator and Molly’s Game director Aaron Sorkin once said on the Today show, “You call it procrastinating, I call it thinking.” Sorkin puts off writing sometimes until the last minute, and the results speak for themselves.

Even if we’re not all award-winning writers, when you’re putting something off, it doesn’t have to be a distraction. It can simply be a break, and that break can open up a world of new ideas.

When you allow yourself more time to sit and think about what you’re working on, different pathways to a result can bubble into your brain. A 2012 study in Nature discovered – through brain imaging – that the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) lay largely dormant when rappers were free-styling. Some athletes might even refer to this as “the zone.”

For entrepreneurs, procrastination might be just the thing to trigger an answer that would be impossible to reach if they didn’t let their minds wander away from the task at hand.

Related: Are You A Procrastinator? Don’t Be By Doing These 3 Things

2. Procrastination aids memory recall

In 1927, Lithuanian psychologist Bluma Zeigarnik first discovered how interrupting an event can actually help people remember it. After her professor noticed waiters at a nearby cafe remembered open tabs better than those that had already been paid, she tested the hypothesis by giving a series of puzzles to people to complete, while subtly interrupting half of them.

Those that were interrupted were able to recall details with 90 percent more accuracy than those who were allowed to complete the task. The Zeigarnik Effect was borne.

The same could be said for today’s entrepreneurs. Breaking for lunch, hitting the gym, reading a book, jumping on another task or simply staring out the window can help you better remember the various moving parts in the mission you’re trying to finish.

3. Shockingly, procrastination can enhance focus

This seems like a paradox on its surface. How can you focus better by interrupting what you’re doing – i.e. procrastinating?

Instead of bearing the monotony of working on a single task until it’s done, it’s more helpful to move away – at least briefly. Concentration wanes if we don’t break up the the tedium. Similar to triggering creativity, we’re better able to concentrate if we take a brief blow.

study in 2011 looked at this psychological effect. Subjects were asked to remember random digits while performing a visual task. They found that once people were asked to recall the digits, their performance on the visual task declined over time. But when researchers interrupted the visual exercise with sporadic reminders of the digits, their visual scores remained high no matter the duration.

The short of it: Take a break every once in a while, even if you’re on deadline.

4. Procrastination often yields better decision-making

Oftentimes, entrepreneurs will receive an important email that needs an answer. There’s no hard timetable on the answer, but because of the weight of the question, people drop everything to arrive at an answer. If you don’t take a moment to sit back and let the full import of the question sink in, you’re liable to make the wrong decision.

Researchers at Columbia performed an experiment to test this idea. Would a little more time actually lead to better decisions?

Related: 6 Steps To Go From Procrastinating To Productive

First, they asked the subjects to determine which direction a set of black dots was moving across the screen. At the same time, a cluster of coloured dots starting moving to distract them. Participants were asked to judge as quickly as possible.

When the coloured dots moved in the same direction as the black dots, the results were basically perfect. But when they moved in opposite directions, the accuracy dropped.

Second, they performed the exact same experiment, but subjects were asked to answer when they heard a clicking sound, which they varied between 17-500 milliseconds – a time span meant to mimic real-life decisions, like driving. Researchers found that when decisions were delayed by about 120 milliseconds, their accuracy significantly improved.

However, the researchers differentiated between prolonged and delayed decision-making. If subjects made the decision too quickly, the brain was still filtering out the distractions (coloured dots). But if it took too long, it could be hindered by other distractions.

The same could be said for procrastination. Procrastinate too much, or for too long, and nothing will ever get done. But, as we’ve seen, there are some serious psychological benefits to procrastination.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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(Infographic) 9 Daily Rituals To Boost Your Performance At Work

In a rut? These daily rituals can help lift you up.

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morning-ritual

Some rituals might seem like nonsense, but it turns out, they can be helpful when it comes to productivity and job performance. Studies have shown that rituals can help us take on tough challenges at work, boost productivity and even decrease anxiety. How do you know what type of ritual is right for you? Here are some ideas.

Instead of starting your day with a hot shower, try opting for a cold one. Cold water increases blood circulation and releases endorphins, which can boost a person’s mood and make them more productive. Another helpful ritual is shutting down distracting devices. For example, turn your smartphone on airplane mode for a few hours so you can hone your focus on a single task until its full completion.

Whether you’ve got a big deadline approaching or an upcoming presentation, if you’re feeling anxious, one ritual to help calm your nerves is counting your breaths. A quick daily mindfulness practice, such as counting your inhales and exhales for 10 minutes, can help relieve stress and get you in the right headspace for getting work done.

Related: 14 Of The Best Morning Routine Hacks Proven To Boost Productivity

From journaling daily to doing five-minute desk exercises, check out Pound Place’s infographic below for nine daily rituals to boost performance at work.

1531498187_daily-rituals-work-infographic

Related: Your Crazy Erratic Sleep Routine Is Making You Less Productive

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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Four Ways To Boost Your Daily Productivity

You can also, hopefully, become a happier human. Here are our suggestions…

Colin Thornton

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productivity

Given that most modern professionals are armed with a full array of sophisticated technology tools, it is safe to assume that our productivity and efficiency has reached dizzying heights…right?

Wrong.

With so many digital distractions and the constant pinging of notifications, most of us have severely dwindling attention spans. Several years ago, Microsoft released a study that revealed a consumer’s attention span is now less than that of your average goldfish. Moreover, our overall productivity might be plummeting. According to research from theHRDirector.com, employees are distracted at work every three minutes – and it can take us as long as 25 minutes to refocus. In addition, workers are more stressed out than ever before, a trend that has been attributed to the constant barrage of digital information and data.

The good news is that by making a few simple changes and employing the right tools (yes, tech tools), you can both alleviate your work stress and enhance your daily productivity. You can also, hopefully, become a happier human. Here are our suggestions…

1. Find Ways to Work Remotely

Although this may not be an option for everyone given his or her particular company or personality, research has shown that working from home – or from a quiet place – can boost your productivity.  The average workplace is a hive of activity and distractions, making it near impossible to get critical tasks done.

Related: 14 Of The Best Morning Routine Hacks Proven To Boost Productivity

Nowadays, with enhanced mobile connectivity, employees can escape home or to wifi-hotspots (with great coffee) to focus on their work. Stanford professor Nicholas Bloom recently conducted a two-year study on remote workers that showed a massive productivity boost among the telecommuters… Moreover, his study revealed that employee attrition decreased by 50 percent among the remote workers. Also, they took shorter breaks, had fewer sick days and took less time off work.

2. Turn off Your Push Notifications

Yes, that’s right. You can do it. There is simply no need to see a notification every time someone likes your post on Facebook or adds you as a contact on LinkedIN.  Also, that Whatsapp message on the group from old high school friends can wait. By constantly moving between screens, apps and platforms to keep up with ongoing digital communications, we lose focus and interrupt our creative processes.

In 2016, a Deloitte study found that people look at their phones 47 times a day on average. For young people, it’s more like 90. As Wired writer David Pierce put it, “push notifications are ruining my life. Yours too, I bet”.  It might be  time to turn down the digital input volume.

3. Use Productivity Apps

Yes, this might seem ironic and counterintuitive.  But, there are now several productivity apps that have been cleverly designed to help – not hurt – your ability to focus. There is Todoist, which allows you to put all your to-do lists into one, easily manageable place. This app syncs with virtually any platform – allowing you to complete tasks even if you forgot your smartphone at home (maybe a good thing?).

We also like Pocket, which collects your favourite articles and sites so that you can peruse them later, instead of ‘right now’. There are also great project management tools now available, such as Omniplan and Trello, which make certain tasks appear fun and often encourage collaboration and creativity. These apps allow you to create and group tasks, organise and streamline workflows, and to file documents in a simple and accessible way.

 4. Find Cool Ways to Collaborate

Although technology can fuel our efficiency (if used the right way) it can also isolate us from our peers and make teamwork (or talking to humans) seem a thing of the past. Yet many studies have shown that collaboration actually supercharges our contributions at work.

Related: How Dial A Nerd Managed To Dial Up Profits

For example, a recent joint study between the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp) and Rob Cross, Edward A. Madden Professor of Global Business at Babson College, revealed “companies that promoted collaborative working were 5 times as likely to be high performing.” In addition, a 2014 Stanford study found that simply working alongside others drives ‘intrinsic motivation.’ And, as always, there’s an app for that!

The most popular tools include Slack, which allows for the sending of direct messages (DMs) and files to a single person or a group of employees. It also has the ability to place conversations into different channels (for specific projects, one for customer support, general chat, etc). Another handy tool growing in popularity is Microsoft Teams, which is included in many Office 365 packages.  Businesses may have Teams available right now and not even realise it or the powerful productivity boosts it can unlock.

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