28 Must-Have Tools for Increasing Productivity & Achieving Your Goals

Here are 28 practical ways to boost your productivity

If you are reading this, more than likely you have some things you want to accomplish.  You’ve set goals and possibly broken them down into action steps.  

Good job, you!

Did you know that 80% of us don’t even set goals?  And, according to one study, only 30% of goal-setters actually reach their goals.

One article won’t be able to fix that problem, however, we have found a few tricks that can give you a boost on your way to smashing those goals and greatly increasing your productivity.

A goal without a plan is just a wish.

 

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

We’re here to help you with doing the things that actually matter.

Compiled here is a list of our favorite tools, organized into categories, to help you get it done.

Define your goals with this free worksheet!

Know exactly what you’re aiming towards.

Workspace

  • Window
  • Plants
  • Lamp
  • Desktop organizer
  • Drawer space 
  • Ergonomic chair & mouse/keyboard
  • Standing desk 
  • Favorite notebook/pen
  • Whiteboard

Based on the research, your workspace has a huge impact on how productive you are.  In fact, small changes in your environment can increase what you get done by as much as 16% and your happiness at work by 9%.  

Those are results you will feel.

Being near a window can keep you alert, plants clean the air and restore us (increasing productivity by 15%!), a good desk lamp ensures that your eyes don’t have to strain and desktop organizers and drawers keep clutter and items not related to what we’re doing out of sight.

Though often overlooked, a lack of lumbar support, straight posture, and proper wrist placement can be major distractions.  Not to mention the health issues that can rob you of your time. 

If you spend the majority of your time at a desk, invest in a chair, keyboard, and mouse that work with your body instead of against it.

A standing desk that allows you to stretch and incorporate movement is even better.

And don’t forget to keep your goals in front of you!  A whiteboard and good old-fashioned pen and paper with your goals written down literally causes that information to connect with your brain differently than if you just typed it.

Focusing & Minimizing Distractions

  • Earbuds/noise-canceling headphones
  • White noise for productivity
  • Breathing/Meditation app
  • Coffee thermos or warmer 
  • Brain snacks and water

Did you know that it takes nearly 30 minutes to get back on task after a distraction

In the US, 25% of our time is eaten up with distractions and this costs employers an astronomical $997 BILLION each year.  You read that correctly.

There is a long list of factors to blame for this. Smart devices, social media, extraneous work tasks, urgent emails, talkative coworkers, mindless web browsing and a lack of clarity on what needs to be done all add up to a massive chunk of our time.

Investing in a quality pair of earbuds or noise-canceling headphones and channeling white noise into your ears is remarkably effective. 

You can even find white noise designed to increase productivity or create your own with zenmix.io. 

Regular brain breaks are crucial. A quick 5 minutes of meditation can yield a sizable return on investment. 

Not sure where to start with that? I use the Calm app (love it!) but several minutes of deep breathing or a brisk walk outside will do the job.

And lastly, take care of your body’s needs. 

Healthy snacks (nuts and seeds are great for this) within reach will keep away distracting hunger.  A good thermos or desktop coffee warmer keeps you from making trips back and forth to reheat.

Task Management

Now that you’ve cut out distractions, let’s talk about staying on task.

There is no lack of options for online tools. The popular platforms Asana and Trello allow you to organize your projects, collaborate with co-workers, and update your progress easily.

But even in the digital age, many still enjoy the benefits of physical tactile tools to keep them on task. Filling out goal sheets can provide the necessary clarity we need and a plan.  Try out a few free templates to find one that works for you.

Processing through writing is another way to free up brain space by clearing the mind of cluttering thoughts and emotions.

Different from a regular journal, a productivity journal guides you through the steps of goal setting.

Managing Time

  • Online time management apps and tools
  • Timer
  • Planner
  • Google Calendar
  • MIT list

21.8 hours.  That is the amount of time per week we waste on average. Almost a full day, according to the research conducted by this business coaching firm.

Time management is hard.  Fortunately, a couple of small tweaks can give you hours of your life back.

The amount of tools dedicated to this end is overwhelming, so we chose the big ones and left you room to explore how best to tailor them to your needs.

This article breaks down the most beloved apps and online tools with Toggl, Workflow and Shift topping the list.  

Sometimes you need the simplicity of a physical timer to divide your workload into manageable chunks of time and keep you from getting pulled into another time suck on the internet.  Try setting it for 15 minutes and not stopping until it goes off. You’ll be surprised at what you can accomplish with focused work.

Having your goals written down is one thing. Having them scheduled into your day is taking your progress to another level. 

(Psst. Read that again.)

Whether it’s digital or a physical product, get yourself a planner and use it.  

Standards like Google Calendar are free and web-based so you can have access to it no matter where you are. You can also share it with others.

Your MIT list (Most Important Task) can act like the rudder controlling the direction of the ship.  Write down 3 things that, when accomplished, will make the biggest impact. Then, tackle the hardest one first.

Many agree that using an MIT list is a powerful tactic.

Motivation

  • Whiteboard calendar
  • Printed motivation pictures/quotes
  • Mastermind or accountability group
  • Online coaching 
  • Goal tracker

Sometimes, you have every tool imaginable to help you achieve your goals but you get sidelined by discouragement.  This happens to all of us, so it’s important to have a plan in place for how to deal with it before it gets here.

If you’re visual or in your head a lot, having something physically within eyesight that reminds you why you’re working so hard can help guide you back to the big picture.  A whiteboard calendar (where you have scheduled in time to make progress), pictures or quotes that fire you up shouldn’t just live in your brain.  Hang them on the walls.  

So technically, this next one is not a physical item but it’s absolutely worth mentioning. Having a mastermind group of colleagues who are ahead of you or striving for the same things is the difference between playing a sport like soccer by yourself vs. on a team.

You can organize one, find a free one to join online or in real life, or pay to be in one.  Paid groups often lead to more success because the group is filtered and invested in it.

Fun fact: Benjamin Franklin had one called The Junto and functioned for 40 years as a “club for mutual improvement.”

If you really want to set yourself up well, a life or business coach can be a game changer. This gives you someone in your corner who is focused on you showing up as your best self.  

Lastly, sometimes you just need to look back and see how far you’ve come. Many of us don’t stop to appreciate the progress that we have made. 

Don’t martyr yourself.  If you’ve worked hard, you should acknowledge that.  

An easy way to do this is with an app like LifeTick, where you can invite others to see your progress.

Conclusion

Of course, none of these things are required for you to become successful but you may find something here that addresses a specific challenge for you. Or even takes you to the next level. 

You can take comfort in the fact that many people have gone before you, tested methods and systems, and can now share their wisdom.

No matter your specific situation, it is an admirable thing to want to improve yourself and grow as a human.

If you lean in, you might be able to hear the many of us on this same journey, cheering you on.

Create an Action Plan for Your Goals

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