The 27 Best Productivity Software of 2016

With productivity apps popping up left, right and center, it often feels like you waste more time looking for the perfect software than actually working efficiently. At I Done This, we’ve worked to improve our done lists and integrations to eliminate the need for meetings—but we realize that there are many more ways that you and your team can get more done in less time.

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To spare you hours of internet sifting, we put together a collection of the 26 best productivity software of this past year.

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Quiz: What Productivity Personality Are You? How to Maximize Your Productivity in 2017

A habit is something you do automatically, without thinking. You know your personal habits—whether you do the dishes right away, or if you throw your clothes on the floor—but you aren’t always the same person at home and at work.

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We put together this Productivity Quiz to help you identify what your work habits are. At the end of the quiz, you’ll see your Productivity Personality, which gives you personalized tips on how to be more productive by capitalizing on your good habits and eliminating your bad ones.

Whether you schedule every minute or go with the flow, you’ll leave with actionable feedback on how to make the most of your workday.

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What Michael Jordan Can Teach You About Productivity

Who are your productivity heroes? If Michael Jordan isn’t up there, he should be.

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Most people know Michael Jordan for his phenomenal scoring ability, superhuman dunks, or his starring role in Space Jam. Over a 20-year span, he scored more than 32,000 points, won six NBA titles and was named the league’s most valuable player five times. But to his teammates and coaches, he was notorious for his diligent work ethic.

Jordan’s longtime coach Phil Jackson once wrote that Michael “takes nothing about his game for granted.” He spent so much time preparing for competition that when it was game-time, he didn’t have to think about what to do next. He relied on instinct and muscle memory to dominate his opponents.

Professional athletes have to squeeze as much as they can out of their prime years, making them perfect productivity case studies. Here’s what some of our most famous athletes have to say about getting stuff done.

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Why You Should Scrap Your Analog To-Do List

Bullet Journaling is the new trend piquing the interest of stationary lovers, productivity seekers, and the wanna-be-organized. Faced with an often overwhelming selection of digital tools in their workplaces, people are turning back to the traditional to-do list: a list of tasks on a piece of paper.

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The fascination is in its simplicity. Visit the original Bullet Journal website and you’ll find instructions for how to use a system of dots, arrows, and crosses to organize to-do items.

People are now used to downloading apps for work and learning to use them, synching them with a collection of other tools. To see a tool that simply tells you to “go buy a notebook” is such a blast from the past, it’s grabbing people’s attention.

It’s like the rise of vintage clothing and traditional teaching methods. In the quest for perfect productivity, people are tempted by the idea of a simpler time. Could going back to pen and paper really make us more productive than ever?

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The Hawthorne Effect is the Simplest Productivity Hack You Never Heard of

Something as simple as asking your team how their day’s going can deliver a huge lift to productivity in the workplace. Sound too good to be true? Science backs it up.

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This is something psychologist Elton Mayo, pioneer of organizational theory, discovered by studying American factory workers in the ’30s.

The experiment was initially set up to see which factory conditions make workers most productive. The researchers began by brightening the factory light, which increased productivity. But once they dimmed the light, productivity rose again. They soon realized that it didn’t matter what the change was—productivity would rise when any change would be made to the work environment. Employees felt like the managers cared about them and their work environments, so they worked harder.

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5 Ways Using Daily Goals Helps You Level Up Your Productivity

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This is a guest post from James Sowers.

The MBA programs at Harvard and Yale are widely known as some of the most competitive in the country, if not the world. Acceptance rates have hovered between 10-15% since the 1970’s. Those who complete their program can expect to receive salary offers starting at $100,000 or more with generous signing bonuses to help them make the transition from academia to the workforce. But, despite having a pool of the country’s best and brightest young business minds, a small selection of these graduates have made anywhere from two to ten times as much money as all of their classmates combined! What’s the difference? According to a series of studies done from 1950 – 1980, having “clear, written goals for the future and plans to achieve them.” At least that’s what the internet would have you believe.

As it turns out, despite being cited in hundreds of books, those studies never actually happened. They have since been refuted by social scientists, investigative journalists, and representatives of the universities involved. Turns out, the whole thing is just one long-lived urban myth. However, that doesn’t negate the fact that regular goal setting is still one of the most effective ways to level up your productivity.

Dr. Gail Matthews, a researcher at Dominican University, received over 149 responses to her study that attempted to arrive at a result similar to the previously mentioned ivy league interviews. Participants were divided into five groups, ranging from those who simply thought about their goals to those who not only wrote them down, but also shared them with others and engaged in weekly progress reports. After four weeks, participants were asked to rate their progress. Here are some of the results:

  • Those who wrote down their goals and were responsible for submitting progress reports to someone else where the most accomplished.
  • Every group that wrote down their goals (Groups 2-5) significantly outperformed those who simply thought about their goals (Group 1).
  • When writing down your goals, there was no statistical advantage to sharing your goals with someone else.

In the end, there was enough scientific evidence to support that writing down goals, committing to those goals over time, and having some method of holding yourself accountable all lead to improved performance and greater achievement. So, we can agree that writing down goals is a good way to be more productive, by why?

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How Decision Fatigue Makes You Work Worse When You Work More

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Planning on getting arrested anytime soon? Better hope the judge has had a sandwich.

Researchers in 2011 studied more than 1,100 decisions from eight Israeli judges serving on a parole board. Their findings were surprising: the biggest factor determining how lenient a judge would rule was how long it had been since the judge had a snack or lunch break.

“Basically, right after a short break, judges came in with more positive attitudes and made more lenient decisions. As they burned up their reserves of energy, they began to make more and more decisions that maintained the status quo,” wrote Jeff Sutherland, CEO of Scrum, Inc. and author of “Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time.

The problem: decision fatigue. The mental work of making all those high-stakes decisions, one after another, wore down the judges.

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Why Bad Listening is One of the Worst Decisions Managers Can Make

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Powerful leaders are often mythologized as stubborn and bull-headed, and that ignoring the advice of others is a virtue.

But researchers at NYU’s Stern School of Business conducted a study on the influence of power in decision-making and they confirmed what many employees already know: people with more power listen less, take less advice, and are ultimately less accurate in final judgments.

The researchers gathered survey data from hundreds of working professionals, and they conducted controlled laboratory experiments where they primed participants to experience varying levels of power and then presented them with advice from others.

They found that greater power meant a reduced tendency to take advice from others. The reason was that the powerful had an elevated confidence in their snap judgments, and that meant that they didn’t listen to valuable advice of others that could’ve changed their mind.

That’s why to successful tech entrepreneurs Andy Grove and Jeff Bezos, bad listening is one of the worst decisions you can make as a manager—because it makes the quality of all of your manager decision making worse.

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The Science Behind Why Slow Thinking Lowers Your Stress

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Jess Lee of Polyvore on why success doesn’t equal happiness

As an entrepreneur, you spend a lot of time psyching yourself out. You’re your own harshest critic.

However positive your intentions, however driven and wonderful your team, every day is not a good day. And because you’re the founder, overseeing the life of your business, those bad days can be terrifying.

Jess Lee, CEO and co-founder of style and social commerce platform, Polyvore, explains this familiar mental trap, where founders often fall into “moments of extreme unhappiness” and stress — even when your company is doing well.

Why does this clash happen? Lee explains: “Humans are terrible at understanding absolute values. We are best at understanding acceleration and deceleration, or rate of change.”

In other words, your state of mind pegs itself to whether your company is doing better or worse than yesterday, rather than overall. It’s easy to lose perspective.

The risk of being too hard on yourself and getting knocked around by rates of change is possibly making poor decisions and feeling miserable, which can also have serious implications for your mental and physical health. The counterintuitive solution that leads to better decisions, increased motivation and less unnecessary stress is not to work and push harder, but to slow down your thinking.

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The Science Behind How Emotions Lead to Smarter Decisions

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There once was a man named Elliot. An intelligent, pleasant thirty-something guy, he had built a pretty good life for himself, with a family and a good job. But his life started to fall apart when he got a brain tumor the size of a small orange that compressed his frontal lobes — causing debilitating headaches and an inability to focus.

Even after a successful surgery to remove the tumor, Elliot’s life continued go downhill. His relationships unravelled, he couldn’t hold a job, and invested in a disreputable business scheme that lost him his savings. Something was still wrong with Elliot’s brain — damage to parts of his frontal lobe somehow resulted in an inability to feel emotion.

You’d think that this might have been beneficial at least for his work ventures, some ability to make calculating, rational, optimal decisions. But the opposite was true. After losing his emotions, he’d become hopelessly ineffective at business.

That can be a jolting lesson for many of us who consider emotion something to regard very lightly in the workplace. Emotions work, not as a barrier to getting things done, but to help us reason at a basic level and thrive.

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