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Are you busy all the time, yet not seeing the progress you want?
Struggling with procrastination?
If so, read on.
In this post, I’ll share with you the 3 productivity tools I use to eliminate time-wasting and get more done.
You’ll learn where to get them, how they work, and why they’re effective.
If you use all 3 of these tools, you can greatly boost your productivity overnight.
And they’re all completely free.
Let’s get into it.
The Dream Killer
We’ve all been there…
You’re working on something important.
You know it’s in your best interest to finish it.
And yet, you just can’t seem to stay focused.
Your would-be productive hours are torn apart by all kinds of distractions.
You find yourself suddenly scrolling through feeds, watching Youtube videos and generally just doing non-productive stuff.
That All-Too-Familiar Feeling
At the end of the day, you might have gotten some work done, sure.
Still, you have that bad feeling in your gut.
It’s that special kind of feeling that only procrastination can give you.
The anxiousness, the dissatisfaction, the slight sense of shame.
Deep down, you know that you didn’t do what you could have done.
You wasted your potential, and further delayed your greatest goals and desires.
And for what?…
Breaking The Cycle
Here’s the deal:
If left unchecked, procrastination will kill your dreams.
When it’s all said and done, we may be talking about weeks, months, even years, of wasted time.
If you want to succeed, this needs to end, now.
This brings us to the first productivity tool on this list…
Productivity Tool #1: Forest
Forest is a light-weight app that intercepts your bad browsing habits and keeps you focused on the task at hand.
If you’ve been struggling a lot with time-wasting, this tool alone may double your output, if not more.
While it may not completely get rid of procrastination, it can greatly reduce it.
How To Get It
1. To start, go to www.forestapp.cc.
2. On the left side of the top menu, you’ll find a link that’ll take you to a download page.
The name of this link will vary, based on the browser you’re currently using — it may say “Firefox Add-ons”, “Chrome Extension” etc.”
3. Click it, and you’ll be taken to a page where you can download Forest directly.
4. After it’s been added and activated, you’ll see an icon of a sprouting plant appear in your tool bar.
Setting It Up
Forest is very simple to use, yet incredibly effective.
To begin, click the Forest icon in your toolbar, and then the cogwheel in the upper-left corner.
You’re now on the settings page, where you can choose between two modes:
The blacklist or the whitelist.
The Blacklist Mode
This is recommended for most projects.
To use this mode, you’ll first have to add the URLs of websites you want to disable during your work sessions.
Be brutally honest with yourself here — type in every last one of your most common distractions.
Facebook, reddit and Youtube are added by default.
The Whitelist Mode
The whitelist mode does the exact opposite of the blacklist.
Instead of adding the URLs you want to avoid, you enter the ones you’ll need to use for your work.
For example, if you’re going to spend an hour reading through a medical study, add only the URL of that specific page before starting the session.
How It Works
When you’re ready to begin a work session, click on the Forest icon in your tool bar once again.
Select the amount of time you want to work uninterrupted, and click on the image of the plant.
Let’s say you’ve gone with the Black List mode (recommended in most cases).
The URL’s you’ve added to the list will now be blocked for the remainder of your work session.
When your bad habits start pulling you away from your work and onto one of these time-wasting sites, you’ll be met with this screen:
A clear-cut message that tells you that you’ve still got X amount of time left to complete your session.
Why It’s So Effective
If you want to access your time-wasting bait, you’ll have to click the “Give up” button and watch your tree wither and die.
In other words, your conscious mind will get the opportunity to intercept your bad habits, which are subconscious in nature.
To procrastinate, you must now actively decide to abandon your duties and admit defeat.
There is simply no opportunity to mindlessly drift away from your work.
Despite the simple nature of the tool, this interception process can be extremely powerful.
As long as you’re honest with yourself when building your blacklist, Forest can give you a big productivity boost from the get-go.
Try it out and see for yourself.
Your computer screen gives off what’s called blue light — which we also get naturally from the sun.
This is a good thing in the daytime, since blue light signals to our body that it’s time to get up and face the day.
In a natural environment, we would get less and less blue light exposure as the sun sets.
This would then trigger our bodies to release the hormone melatonin, which makes us feel sleepy.
How Blue Light Can Affect Your Productivity
Unfortunately, our modern, high-tech lifestyles tend to complicate this process.
You see, when we’re staring into our bright-lit screens late into the night, the secretion of melatonin is suppressed.
This can make it very hard to fall asleep.
And, when you finally do, your sleep quality will most likely be not so great.
If this goes on for a long time, it can lead to really bad sleep habits that will seriously affect your productivity.
Besides reducing your creativity and mood, it will make it much, much harder to concentrate on your work.
In fact, in a meta-analysis from 2010, simple attention was found to be the cognitive function most affected by sleep deprivation.
Productivity Tool #2: F.lux
F.lux is a software that changes the lighting of your pc monitor depending on the time of day.
Once it’s set up, it will automatically regulate the amount of blue light produced by your screen.
This, in turn, will let your body release melatonin as it gets darker around you — preparing you for sleep.
As a bonus, it will also help reduce eye strain.
Setting It Up
1. Go to justgetflux.com.
2. Download it by clicking on the blue button right on the front page.
3. When your download is completed, run the “flux-setup.exe” file and install the software.
4. Once it’s installed, you’ll want to set your general location as well as your regular wake time.
F.lux will then change the light settings to what’s best suited for you.
If you want, you can always change the values manually, or select a preset.
Should you need to disable F.lux momentarily (if you’re doing color-sensitive work, for example) you can easily do so from the right-click menu.
F.lux will help get you ready for bed by automatically reducing blue light exposure as it gets darker.
Doing so reduces eye strain and encourages a healthier sleep pattern.
Once you start getting enough high-quality sleep, you’ll experience a major productivity boost.
Productivity Tool #3: The Simplified To-Do List
Even if you have a good idea of what you’re supposed to be doing, it’s easy to lose track as the days go by.
In order to reach your goals as fast as possible, having a to-do list is essential.
It breaks down your tasks into bite-sized chunks that are easy to manage, which keeps you from feeling overwhelmed.
Also, whenever you feel like you’re losing sight of it all, you can quickly and easily reorient yourself.
There are tons of apps that are meant to help you organize your tasks.
You’ll often hear people recommend advanced, feature-rich software like Evernote and Wunderlist.
Personally, however, I’ve found that there’s tremendous power in simplicity.
If you haven’t done so already, I highly recommend creating a minimalist to-do list.
I’ve tried all kinds of apps and addons, but nothing has given me better results than this.
How To Do It
Here’s how to create a minimalist to-do list:
1. In the word processor of your choice, create a new document.
2. Add two lines to it.
3. Above the first line, type your goals for the next day.
4. Above the second line, type your goals for the week.
5. Below the second line, type your goals for the month.
6. Whenever you complete a goal, highlight that text and put a line through it.
7. At the end of a day/week/month, delete the completed lines and add new ones.
Make sure to open this list every single day until it becomes a regular habit — like making breakfast.
A helpful tip is to drag and drop the document file to the center of your desktop, so it stands out.
Personally, I use Microsoft Word, and every time I open it I see the to-do list in the sidebar —which is also super helpful.
For the daily goals, it’s best to remove the completed ones and add new items each night before bed time.
This way, you’ll get a nice sense of achievement before you go to sleep, and you’ll know exactly what to do the next day.
Get It Done
And there you have it — the 3 most effective productivity tools I’ve ever used.
In my experience, there’s no need for fancy timetables, graphs or popup alerts.
The tools mentioned here are all free, simple to set up and easy to work with.
So, there’s really no excuse not to give them a try.
If you keep using all 3 of them, your productivity levels will skyrocket in no time.