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5 Tools You Need to Jump Start Your Productivity

Alexis Perrotta profile image

Alexis Perrotta

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Technology: we all know it can be a blessing and a curse.

We can job hunt, explore personal and professional development opportunities, expand our respective networks, and search for inspiring volunteer and internship opportunities all from the comfort of our couch or cubicle. But this unlimited access also means that the distractions abound, as well.

Here are five tools to support your productivity and hopefully, help you to chase away that burning urge to pop back into that other, open tab. I mean, it's sitting right there. Open, and alone, just waiting to be clicked. OK, go ahead and take one last look before we get started. Are you back? Ready to move on? Here we go.

Enjoy these five tools, each of which comes highly recommended from a bonafide member of the team here at Idealist.

Productivity Tool #1: Pomodoro Technique

This project-management technique has you break your work into short sprints, with a brief break between each segment. After four segments—called Pomodoros—and four short breaks, reward yourself with a longer break. Get back to work only when you feel truly refreshed and ready to go.

You may also benefit from keeping a piece of paper handy and marking down each time you’ve completed one “Pomodoro.” This will not only help you to track your bursts of activity, it will also give you a good visual queue of how far along you are on the road to completing the task.

Learn more about the Pomodoro technique here.

Productivity Tool #2: Stay-Focused Chrome Extension

This Google Chrome extension will help you stay focused on your work by restricting the amount of time you can spend on time-wasting websites.

The extension allows you to designate which specific websites you’d like to limit your time on, and once that allotted time is spent, your access to that site which be blocked for the remainder of the day.

Take advantage of the option to block or allow entire sites, specific subdomains, specific paths, specific pages, even specific in-page content (videos, games, images, forms, etc).

Sometimes, extreme measures must be taken!

Read more about the Stay-focused Chrome Extension here.

Productivity Tool #3: F.lux

Getting lost in the blue-light abyss of your phone or computer too close to bedtime? F.lux makes the color of your computer's display adapt to the time of day: warm at night and like sunlight during the day.

Learn more and try out F.lux here.

Productivity Tool #4: The Prioritization Matrix

If you’re having trouble prioritizing projects and responsibilities, try out the Prioritization Matrix, compliments of Roli Saxena, business executive at Clever, Inc. and former head of North American sales, enterprise, and mid-market business at LinkedIn. This is a simple template that will aid you in mapping your priorities by adding them to one of four quadrants.

For more on how to employ this template and other burnout-avoiding tips and tools, read Practical Frameworks for Beating Burnout.

Productivity Tool #5: How to Feed Good Habits Podcast

In this easy-to-digest podcast, listen to Gretchen Rubin, bestselling author of The Happiness Project, explain what she posits are the keys to long-term habit change.

In supporting her theory that understanding how we respond to expectations is what enables us to feed good habits on the road to long-term success, she names four broad categories of responders and suggests to listeners that figuring out your cognitive category might be the key to changing your bad habits for good. Bonus: her theory is Harry Potter themed!

Listen to the WNYC podcast, The Four Tendencies: How to Feed Good Habits.

Use one (or all) of these tools to ensure that the next time you need to keep your nose to the grindstone, you don’t fall prey to the sweet siren song of the never-ending internet!

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Alexis Perrotta profile image

Alexis Perrotta

As the Associate Director of Marketing and Communications at Idealist and a lifelong nonprofit professional, Alexis offers job seekers, game changers, and do gooders actionable tips, career resources, and social-impact advice.

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