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Our Favorite Productivity Tools For 2021

2020 was quite the eventful year, and 2021 presents an opportunity for us to improve ourselves.

Being more productive with your time is a great way to not only achieve better results, but to also give you the time you deserve to relax. By maximizing the amount of work you get done in a given amount of time, you can ensure that you are able to get your work done and enjoy the fruits of your labor.

We at MitoQ understand the importance of maintaining a good work life balance, and productivity tools are a great means for getting everything done in a timely manner. Below are seven of our favorite productivity tools that can help you start the new year on the right foot.

Egg timer

A timer is an invention that has been around for decades upon decades, but you may be wondering what an egg timer has to do with your ability to be productive.

While technically any timer will work, the timer is one of our favorite productivity tools because of the Pomodoro method. The Pomodoro method is a productivity technique first created in the 1980s by Francesco Cirillo that utilizes a timer to schedule your time allowing you to get more done in short bursts of time.

A great way to think about the Pomodoro method is as if you are performing a series of sprints. The focus periods are the periods in which you put in your maximum effort and attention. After these focus periods, there are short break periods that allow you to have a mental break and catch your breath. The Pomodoro technique utilizes a string of these focus periods and breaks.

A focus timer is set for roughly 30 minutes. During this time you are completely dedicated to the task at hand. No checking email, browsing the web, or any distractions of any kind. After 30 minutes, you set the timer for 5 minutes and are allowed to do whatever you choose to do. Once the timer goes off you go back into a focus session.

The technique requires discipline but once a habit, it can be an incredibly useful way to stay productive throughout the day.

Blacklist applications

With work from home increasing in prevalence, the utilization of home computers for work has also continued to increase. The devices you once used to leisurely browse the internet or play games have become the same machine that you need to utilize for work. This dual functionality can be confusing and can ultimately lead you down a path of procrastination and browsing the web when you should be getting work done.

A great way to prevent this pattern is to get an application that can blacklist certain websites and applications. Better yet, applications like Flow PRO integrate a Pomodoro timer in addition to website and application blocking. With these two tools combined, it will force you to focus on your work during the focus period and allow you access to digital leisure applications while in a break.

While ultimately these applications can be overwritten and you could very easily do whatever you want, it provides an additional step that makes you question whether you should really be procrastinating. The goal is that over time you train yourself to respect the time you have to work and no longer impulsively entertain distractions.

Planner

A planner is something that everyone has heard of and probably used at some point or another. The planner is simply a specialized calendar that allows you to plan your days in a day-by-day fashion. The planner is oftentimes an underrated source of productivity, but it has so much potential.

More specifically, a physical planner is an ideal way to keep up to date with the day-to-day. Handwritten notes have been shown to increase retention of information, and a physical planner can help you to remember what you have to get done.

Another benefit to the physical planner is that it strips you away from your dependence on your smartphone. While phone notifications for tasks are handy, relying too heavily on the technology around you can handicap you by building up a reliance on your devices. You most likely have also gotten a calendar reminder and looked at your phone to only end up scrolling on social media.

Taking the morning or evenings to simply cut out screen time and review your planner is a great way to stay productive and be more intentional and focused with your organizing time.

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Habit trackers

A habit tracker is exactly what it sounds like, it tracks your habits. To be more specific, a habit tracker is a tool utilized to track your progress toward creating a new habit. This is accomplished through many different ways but at its most basic you have your habit followed by a month's worth of blank spaces.

Each day you complete the habit you bubble in the box for that given day. If you miss a day you are forced to skip the space for that day and constantly be reminded of that mistake - rough, but effective.

A habit tracker is a great productivity tool because it can help you to build healthy habits like showing up to work on time, taking your daily supplements, reducing your screen time, and so much more. The possible habits you can build are limitless and a habit tracker is a great tool to start establishing those new habits.

Automation tools

When you look at your workday, there are most likely some tasks that you complete that are tedious and repetitive. Logging your working start and stop times, creating a weekly correspondence email, and even remembering to turn the lights off are all tasks that are nearly identical that you do everyday.

Technology today has the capability to take nearly all of these repetitive mundane tasks and automate them.

The best way to implement automation into your workflow is to take a step back and look at what you do while you are sitting at your desk or working. Keep track and make a list of the tasks you do in a day or week period to notice any patterns. More likely than not there is some way that you can automate a part of your workflow to improve your efficiency.

Automation can do so many things including automatically mapping your route to work, recording the time you arrive and leave the office, having a weekly email template tied to auto-send, and so much more.

While it takes time to set up these automations, the time it saves you in the long run is invaluable and is why automation tools are high on our favorite kinds of productivity tools.

To-do lists

Lists in every shape and form are a great way to organize your thoughts. Grocery lists give us a quick reference to the items we need while shopping and a to-do list is a quick reference to the things we need to get done in a day.

To-do lists have evolved from being a simple list on a scrap piece of paper into powerful tools that are available on smartphones, desktops, and more.

With the assistance of technology, lists can become a one-stop shop for productivity as you can quickly add tags, due dates, reminders, priority, and so much more to a single task. The ability to group and organize tasks based on type, due date, or priority one of the reasons digital to-do lists are so great.

With a standard pencil and paper, you would need to rewrite a list any time you wanted to categorize your tasks. With technology, you can organize your list whichever way you need in the blink of an eye allowing you to get to your tasks quicker and more efficiently.

Alarm clock

While nearly every phone in existence has an alarm clock, a better and more productive way to wake up is to get a standalone alarm clock.

While the alarms on our phone are handy, they reinforce the habit of grabbing your phone as soon as you wake up. The scenario of waking up to your phone alarm, grabbing it to turn it off and then scrolling your email is a situation you have more than likely encountered.

A better and more productive way to wake up is to wake up and get your day started rather than laying in bed. By utilizing a standalone alarm clock, you can put your phone in another room overnight and cut your early morning habit of reaching for your phone.

Conclusion

2021 offers a unique opportunity to assess our workflows and improve them drastically. 2020 was all about adaptation from adapting to work from home, online school, and more.

In 2021 we are aware of the circumstances presented due to the pandemic and are able to narrow in our productivity with our new normal. These simple productivity tools can help you in your journey to making 2021 a year of redemption for your productivity and can allow you to take charge and feel good about your work.

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Reviewed by: Kai Man Yuen/ BSc., PGDipSci., MSc.

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