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Monday, February 27, 2017

PERSONAL SPECIAL.... 4 Ways to Focus When Your Mind's Not in the Mood

4 Ways to Focus When Your Mind's Not in the Mood

Attention implies singularity. As in, if you’re paying attention to lots of things—that’s not truly paying attention. It’s an understatement that focusing on one thing at a time can be difficult. But it’s kinda the big key to succeeding at work and in life. It’s hard to do anything, let alone do it well, if you can’t concentrate on it.
The good thing about focus is that it’s a learnable skill. It takes practice and it takes experimenting with different methods, but you actually can improve your ability to do it. And you can do it without downloading any apps or studying up on hacks.
You can start teaching yourself by checking out these four surprisingly simple approaches.
1. Do One Thing at a Time
What’s Stopping You: Technology
A study done by Larry Rosen, PhD, at California State University looked at how long students could pay attention to a specific task. The average length of time they could concentrate on what they were studying? Three minutes. The culprit? Technology. Every time something bings, beeps, or flashes, you’re no longer 100% focused on what you were doing.
The Fix: Turn Off Your Notifications
With that in mind, the next time you sit down to focus, turn off your notifications for Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, email, Dropbox, Tinder—that’s right, every last one.
In the two years since I’ve killed all notifications on my devices (except phone calls—but thankfully those rarely happen), I’ve managed not to miss or forget anything. Your likes, tags, comments, and messages will all still be there when you’re ready to look.
Try it, even for a day or just a few hours. Turn off anything that breaks your attention, including your Wi-Fi if possible. And then (hopefully) you’ll notice that the world didn’t stop when the notifications did. But you did happen to get a lot more accomplished.
2. Group Similar Tasks
What’s Stopping You: Your Job Involves a Variety of Tasks
Let me guess: You wear a lot of hats at work. That’s the norm now. Tom DeMarco, co-author of a book about productivity called Peopleware: Productive Products and Teams, states that it can take 15 minutes or more to regain the same intense focus or flow as before the interruption.
So, every time you switch tasks, your brain needs at least that amount of time to get back into the work. If you switch tasks just four times in a morning, that’s an hour of total focus you’ve lost.
The Fix: Batching Your Work
“Batching” builds off the idea of only working on one kind of task at a time. Rather that jumping from one project to another, you do all related tasks in a set amount of time. By “batching” the work you have to accomplish, you don’t have to constantly shift gears.
So, grouping all the writing I have to do into a morning means I can write five to six articles in one fell swoop. Perfect. Then I’ll typically spend the afternoon programming websites for clients, moving my brain into that mode for hours at a time. 
3. Focus on the Present
What’s Stopping You: Daydreaming
Paying attention to the work at hand, instead of daydreaming about what will come of that work, is always a challenge. Too often, we get sucked into imagining that what we’re working on will become the next big thing or go viral or make us millions. While it’s a nice thought, it’s also not getting you any closer to making it a reality.
The Fix: The Pomodoro Method
The Pomodoro method is the notion that short, but laser-focused, bursts of attention lead to much greater productivity. It’s simple—you set a timer for 25 minutes, you turn off or silence all other distractions, and you work on a single task. When the time’s up, you can take a short break (for daydreaming) before moving onto another task.
The more attention I pay to what I’m working on, the faster (and better) it gets done. Instead of thinking about all the items on your list and getting stressed or simply getting lost in thought, try to think about just the one at hand. 
4. Give Yourself a Break
What’s Stopping You: You Think You’re a Robot
Too many productivity tips don’t take this into account: We need to sleep, eat, take breaks, and move. As humans, our attention spans need variety, and we can’t always control our thoughts or motivations. No matter how motivated or focused you are, you can’t stay that way forever.
The Fix: Act Like a Human
It might seem counterproductive, but I’m much more likely to get my work done quickly (and well), if I take breaks away from my desk. Studies back this up. Whether you’re taking nature walks, doing five minutes of stretching, or sitting on the porch and drinking coffee (instead of slurping it while compulsively working), all of those breaks contribute to being able to focus better.


That’s it. No special programs, secret life hacks, or pricey apps. You simply need to give your brain a task, space, and rest—it will reward you for it by gifting you with productivity.
By Paul Jarvis

https://www.themuse.com/advice/4-ways-to-focus-when-your-minds-not-in-the-mood?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=daily_20160725&utm_source=blueshift&utm_content=daily_monday&bsft_eid=50589252-0455-402b-b152-f30be6378a65&bsft_clkid=a62977a9-59ad-43be-b613-40e28d763a1e&bsft_uid=d4f9562c-4347-49cb-9544-373dd1f2b1f3

BOOK SPECIAL.... The Greatest Science Books of 2016 12.HIDDEN FIGURES

The Greatest 

Science 

Books of 2016

12.HIDDEN FIGURES
“No woman should say, ‘I am but a woman!’ But a woman! What more can you ask to be?” astronomer Maria Mitchell, who paved the way for women in American science, admonished the first class of female astronomers at Vassar in 1876. By the middle of the next century, a team of unheralded women scientists and engineers were powering space exploration at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
Meanwhile, across the continent and in what was practically another country, a parallel but very different revolution was taking place: In the segregated South, a growing number of black female mathematicians, scientists, and engineers were steering early space exploration and helping American win the Cold War at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia.
Long before the term “computer” came to signify the machine that dictates our lives, these remarkable women were working as human “computers” — highly skilled professional reckoners, who thought mathematically and computationally for their living and for their country. When Neil Armstrong set his foot on the moon, his “giant leap for mankind” had been powered by womankind, particularly by Katherine Johnson — the “computer” who calculated Apollo 11’s launch windows and who was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Obama at age 97 in 2015, three years after the accolade was conferred upon John Glenn, the astronaut whose flight trajectory Johnson had made possible.
Katherine Johnson at her Langley desk with a globe, or “Celestial Training Device,” 1960 (Photographs: NASA)
In Hidden Figures: The Story of the African-American Women Who Helped Win the Space Race (public library), Margot Lee Shetterly tells the untold story of these brilliant women, once on the frontlines of our cultural leaps and since sidelined by the selective collective memory we call history.
She writes:
Just as islands — isolated places with unique, rich biodiversity — have relevance for the ecosystems everywhere, so does studying seemingly isolated or overlooked people and events from the past turn up unexpected connections and insights to modern life.
Against a sobering cultural backdrop, Shetterly captures the enormous cognitive dissonance the very notion of these black female mathematicians evokes:
Before a computer became an inanimate object, and before Mission Control landed in Houston; before Sputnik changed the course of history, and before the NACA became NASA; before the Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka established that separate was in fact not equal, and before the poetry of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech rang out over the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, Langley’s West Computers were helping America dominate aeronautics, space research, and computer technology, carving out a place for themselves as female mathematicians who were also black, black mathematicians who were also female.
Shetterly herself grew up in Hampton, which dubbed itself “Spacetown USA,” amid this archipelago of women who were her neighbors and teachers. Her father, who had built his first rocket in his early teens after seeing the Sputnik launch, was one of Langley’s African American scientists in an era when words we now shudder to hear were used instead of “African American.” Like him, the first five black women who joined Langley’s research staff in 1943 entered a segregated NASA — even though, as Shetterly points out, the space agency was among the most inclusive workplaces in the country, with more than fourfold the percentage of black scientists and engineers than the national average.
Over the next forty years, the number of these trailblazing black women mushroomed to more than fifty, revealing the mycelia of a significant groundswell. Shetterly’s favorite Sunday school teacher had been one of the early computers — a retired NASA mathematician named Kathleen Land. And so Shetterly, who considers herself “as much a product of NASA as the Moon landing,” grew up believing that black women simply belonged in science and space exploration as a matter of course — after all, they populated her father’s workplace and her town, a town whose church “abounded with mathematicians.”
Embodying astronomer Vera Rubin’s wisdom on how modeling expands children’s scope of possibility, Shetterly reflects on this normalizing and rousing power of example:
Building 1236, my father’s daily destination, contained a byzantine complex of government-gray cubicles, perfumed with the grown-up smells of coffee and stale cigarette smoke. His engineering colleagues with their rumpled style and distracted manner seemed like exotic birds in a sanctuary. They gave us kids stacks of discarded 11×14 continuous-form computer paper, printed on one side with cryptic arrays of numbers, the blank side a canvas for crayon masterpieces. Women occupied many of the cubicles; they answered phones and sat in front of typewriters, but they also made hieroglyphic marks on transparent slides and conferred with my father and other men in the office on the stacks of documents that littered their desks. That so many of them were African American, many of them my grandmother’s age, struck me as simply a part of the natural order of things: growing up in Hampton, the face of science was brown like mine.
[…]
The community certainly included black English professors, like my mother, as well as black doctors and dentists, black mechanics, janitors, and contractors, black cobblers, wedding planners, real estate agents, and undertakers, several black lawyers, and a handful of black Mary Kay salespeople. As a child, however, I knew so many African Americans working in science, math, and engineering that I thought that’s just what black folks did.
Katherine Johnson, age 98 (Photograph: Annie Leibovitz for Vanity Fair)
But despite the opportunities at NASA, almost countercultural in their contrast to the norms of the time, life for these courageous and brilliant women was no idyll — persons and polities are invariably products of their time and place. Shetterly captures the sundering paradoxes of the early computers’ experience:
I interviewed Mrs. Land about the early days of Langley’s computing pool, when part of her job responsibility was knowing which bathroom was marked for “colored” employees. And less than a week later I was sitting on the couch in Katherine Johnson’s living room, under a framed American flag that had been to the Moon, listening to a ninety-three-year-old with a memory sharper than mine recall segregated buses, years of teaching and raising a family, and working out the trajectory for John Glenn’s spaceflight. I listened to Christine Darden’s stories of long years spent as a data analyst, waiting for the chance to prove herself as an engineer. Even as a professional in an integrated world, I had been the only black woman in enough drawing rooms and boardrooms to have an inkling of the chutzpah it took for an African American woman in a segregated southern workplace to tell her bosses she was sure her calculations would put a man on the Moon.
[…]
And while the black women are the most hidden of the mathematicians who worked at the NACA, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, and later at NASA, they were not sitting alone in the shadows: the white women who made up the majority of Langley’s computing workforce over the years have hardly been recognized for their contributions to the agency’s long-term success. Virginia Biggins worked the Langley beat for the Daily Press newspaper, covering the space program starting in 1958. “Everyone said, ‘This is a scientist, this is an engineer,’ and it was always a man,” she said in a 1990 panel on Langley’s human computers. She never got to meet any of the women. “I just assumed they were all secretaries,” she said.
These women’s often impossible dual task of preserving their own sanity and dignity while pushing culture forward is perhaps best captured in the words of African American NASA mathematician Dorothy Vaughan:
What I changed, I could; what I couldn’t, I endured.


BRAIN PICKINGS

MOST INNOVATIVE COMPANIES 2017 6. Facebook

MOST INNOVATIVE COMPANIES 2017 

6. Facebook

Facebook is an American social network and technology company founded in 2004 by Harvard classmates Mark Zuckerberg, Chris Hughes, Eduardo Saverin, Dustin Moskovitz, and Andrew McCollum. The platform originally allowed users to create profiles and post updates to friends when it launched on college campuses. It quickly became known for colloquialisms like "Friending" and its famous like button, and added messaging and photo and video sharing capabilities. But in the past 13 years, Facebook has grown into a robust advertising platform, is spearheading initiatives to provide internet access in developing countries, and is even venturing into artificial intelligence and virtual reality. 
Led by CEO Zuckerberg, Facebook has ballooned to include more than 1 billion daily active users—most of whom access the platform via its mobile app. Meanwhile, Facebook's Messenger app (which the company split off from the main Facebook app) has blossomed into a billion-user platform of its own. High-profile acquisitions like 2012's purchase of Instagram (which has boomed to 600 million users under Facebook ownership) and 2014's purchases of WhatsApp and Oculus VR have only broadened Facebook's reach and influence as a social platform and technology heavy hitter. Next up is virtual reality. Oculus Rift, the groundbreaking VR headset that began shipping to customers in 2016, gives Facebook a shot at being the defining player in the next era of computer interfaces.
As Facebook pursues its virtual reality objectives, the big question is how it can blend VR with its mission statement to connect the world and make it easy for people to share what’s important to them with their friends and family. Facebook’s Social VR initiative is meant to extend the Facebook experience into virtual reality. The company’s 17,000 employees haven’t built a $380 billion operation by shying away from such seemingly tall orders, and what they’ve shown already has earned a lot of buzz. Facebook has already made it possible for people to video chat in virtual reality via Messenger. It has also released the reference design for the Surround 360, an open-source, high-end 360-degree camera system that anyone can build or modify for their own purposes. Now Facebook has to find a way to fend off competition from startups like AltspaceVR and High Fidelity, among others, which are also looking to develop an essential social VR platform. 
With the launch of Facebook Live in 2015, Facebook pushed into the live-video arena, later creating a dedicated section on its mobile app in hopes of getting users to broadcast right from their phones. Facebook Live’s watershed moment came in the summer of 2016, when the girlfriend of Philando Castile streamed his final moments after he was shot by a police officer during a traffic stop. The shocking video sparked national outrage and showed how new broadcasting tools offer an unprecedented opportunity reveal underreported acts of violence and circumvent typical gatekeepers.

Top tip for getting a job at this company:
Be prepared to write code on a whiteboard during your interview.
Top perks for employees:
Excellent parental leave policy
Endless options for free food
On-site haircuts, oil changes, etc.
Rooftop park atop new Frank Gehry building in Menlo Park, CA
DATA
COMPETITION
Snap, Tencent, Google, Microsoft, Line, Twitter

PEOPLE
Mark Zuckerberg, Sheryl Sandberg, Mike Schroepfer

VALUATION
$380 billion

PUBLIC OR PRIVATE
Public

STAFF
17,000

USERS
1.86 billion monthly active users

HEADQUARTERS

Menlo Park, California

(WWW.fastcompany.com)

HABITS SPECIAL .....5 Basic Habits You Should Embrace to Make Every Day Go More Smoothly

5 Basic Habits You Should Embrace to Make Every Day Go More Smoothly

As the co-founder of Clique Media Group—the parent company of our four content brands—Who What Wear, Byrdie, MyDomaine, and Obsessee—I’ve had many funny realizations as we’ve grown our company from two people to a team of over 150 within the past decade. In addition to reluctantly admitting that I can’t have coffee after 11:30 AM (gee thanks, insomnia), I’ve also finally embraced the fact that the more responsibilities I have, the more routine my life is becoming—and that’s not a bad thing.
Somewhere along the way, I discovered that the key to having a successful day—both at work and off-duty—is to create structure that’ll allow my days to run more predictably and calmly. Yes, on a good day, having these routines in place means it’s all smooth sailing (and who doesn’t love that?). But on a rough day, a day when everything goes wrong, these small daily steps often save my sanity.

1. Get (Enough) Sleep
When I first started my career, FOMO meant that burning the candle at both ends was standard operating procedure. But just because you can get by on a few hours of sleep and endless cups of coffee doesn’t mean that you should. The easiest way to set yourself up for a great day is simple: Sleep well the night before.
If falling asleep doesn’t come easily to you, it’s well worth figuring out your own best practices. Dr. Frank Lipman, an internationally recognized expert and author, got us in the habit of practicing an “electronic sundown.” Yep, it’s exactly what it sounds like: no phones, computers, or TVs for at least a couple of hours before bed.
Sure, you’ve heard it before, and yes the “no screentime” policy might not make sense for you. However what everyone can (and should) do is figure out how many hours you need to sleep per night and how much time it takes for you to wind down before going to bed. (Literally) rest assured, getting enough quality shuteye will make your life so much easier, it’s well worth not answering emails into the wee hours of the night.

2. Do the Proper Prep Whenever Possible
There’s so much going on when you wake up in the morning: Your inbox is filling up, your dog needs to go for a walk, it’s raining and you can’t find your one working umbrella. Give yourself a break by doing as much as possible the night before: Pick out your outfit, make your lunch, get your work bag together, put your keys where you know you’ll see them.
The big takeaway here: Make as many decisions for yourself the night before so you don’t suffer from decision fatigue before you even get to the office.
And when you do get to the office, the prep doesn’t stop. In fact, that brings us to:

3. Find a To-Do List System That Works for You
There’s something so satisfying about being able to check things off a to-do list, but that’s not the only reason I start my morning by creating one. It really helps set my intentions for the day and keep me focused. Personally, I love handwriting a list in my go-to notebook, but if I don’t have time for that, I make a list in Evernote, which is basically my best friend.
However, that might not work for you. That’s why so many choices exist. If you’re currently not having any success with pen and paper, try downloading an app. And if an app’s only distracting you, try sticky notes. Somewhere, out there, is a method that’ll make your life easier—however no one can find it besides you.

4. Schedule Like Your Life Depends on It
Similar to the tip above, one way to make sure you’re staying focused and accomplishing as much as possible is to know what you have coming up on a given day, week, or month. (Oh, and this might seem obvious, but have one place to keep all this information—whether it’s an old-fashioned planner or Google Calendar.)
In my iCal, I’ll set aside specific hours to respond to email, devote chunks of time to certain projects, and use the timeline I create to ensure everything pressing gets done. Will certain to-do items get pushed due to unforeseen emergencies? Of course, but having a record of them makes it easier to bump them to another day or week.

5. Take Breaks When You Need Them
When you’re trying to solve a problem or come up with a new idea for something, and the answer isn’t appearing, don’t sit at your desk stressing out. Sometimes you just need to take a break. Getting up from your workspace, enjoying a little change of scenery, and just moving around sometimes gives you the perspective you need to get inspired and tackle the issue that’s been stumping you.
And, like everything else, this break should be whatever works for you: Go for a walk, talk to a co-worker, grab coffee with a colleague you never see outside meetings, eat lunch away from your desk, check out a cool site. It’s amazing how much more perspective you can get on a situation when you step away from it for just a little bit.
So here’s the thing: Like rules, routines are made to be broken, and inevitably some crisis will disrupt your finely planned routine. Don’t worry about it too much; just try to get back on track again tomorrow, and, in the meantime, that’s what happy hour’s for. Or so I hear
By Hillary Kerr

https://www.themuse.com/advice/5-basic-habits-you-should-embrace-to-make-every-day-go-more-smoothly?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=botw_05152016&utm_source=blueshift&utm_term=bsft_&utm_content=botw_sunday&bsft_eid=233a7db4-1a55-41f3-96ae-af6139f5f9f1&bsft_clkid=34abd43c-aa20-41ea-991b-2221ab80f5cd&bsft_uid=d4f9562c-4347-49cb-9544-373dd1f2b1f3

FAILURE SPECIAL ....Corny, But So True: 3 Life Lessons Failure Teaches You

Corny, But So True: 3 Life Lessons Failure Teaches You

 “Well, I’ve got that in the bag,” I thought to myself as I strolled out of the office building where I’d just completed a job interview—my second one with a company I was ridiculously excited about.
I walked to my car feeling confident and self-assured. I had an eloquent and thoughtful response for every single question the interviewer tossed my way. She had laughed at my jokes. We even bonded over our love for dogs. I knew I had knocked the meeting out of the park, and I was already picturing my name emblazoned on those glossy new business cards.
A couple of days later, the email I had been anxiously awaiting arrived in my inbox. I clicked it open as fast as I possibly could, eager for the confirmation of the news I was so sure was headed my way. Visions of confetti, a marching band, and the hiring manager leaping out of an oversized cake flashed before my eyes.
But, that good news and rejoicing isn’t what I got. Instead, I quickly skimmed through the email to see all of those cliché lines we all dread reading. They really liked me, but I wasn’t the perfect fit. There were many qualified candidates. It was a pleasure to meet me. Blah, blah, blah.
My heart sunk into my shoes. How could this happen? I thought I had this all locked up. But, things didn’t pan out—I had failed.
You’ll hear a lot of advice and sympathetic anecdotes about failure during the course of your career. And, I’ll be the first to admit it: In the heat of the moment—when your eyes are still teary and your ego is still bruised—they don’t really help all that much.
Yes, the intentions are great. But, when I just want to put on my sweatpants and drown my sorrows in a bottle of wine and a bag of Hot Cheetos, your canned story about the trials and tribulations of Abraham Lincoln goes in one ear and out the other.
Believe me, I can sympathize with you. I know that failure sucks. There’s no ifs, ands, or buts about it. However, it really can still be a valuable learning experience. In fact, there are a few things that you can only learn by failing.
So, when you’ve finally polished off those snacks and are feeling at least somewhat receptive to some constructive encouragement, keep these lessons in mind. Because, no matter what it feels like, that torturous brush with failure really was good for something.
1. There’s Always Room for Improvement
When you’ve failed, it’s human nature to grasp at straws and generate all sorts of excuses as to why this wasn’t your fault. That project was too difficult or the deadline was too short. That client was rude. That company was always going to hire someone from the inside. There was nothing you could do.
However, you’ll never be able to view something as a learning experience if you’re convinced you have absolutely nothing to learn. I’m sure you’re stellar at what you do, but that doesn’t mean you get to coast for the rest of your life.
All of us—I mean it, every single one of us—has areas where we could do better. And, there’s nothing like failure (and that insightful feedback that results from it) to highlight those areas for us in obnoxious, can’t-miss neon yellow.
2. Persistence Is Your Greatest Quality
Everybody fails (but, no, I won’t bring up Abraham Lincoln). It’s an inevitable part of life. You won’t succeed at everything you try. And, if you’re currently operating with that assumption, I hate to tell you that you’ll soon end up sorely disappointed.
However, miserably failing at something quickly reminds you that you can’t let a few stumbles (or even full-blown wipeouts) completely stop you in your tracks. Instead, you need to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and keep pushing forward.
You likely have tons of great qualities that make you an awesome person and employee. But, of all of these, persistence is the one that’s going to get you the furthest in your career. Because you won’t ever get anywhere if you insist on staying stuck. Just ask good ol’ Honest Abe.
 3. Life Goes On
Here it is: The granddaddy of all cliché career lessons. When you’ve failed at something—particularly something that you really, desperately wanted—it’s all too easy to picture the entire world crumbling down around you like a scene from Independence Day. This is it. You’ll never get past this.
But, if you take one thing from this article, it should be this: The world does not stop turning simply because things didn’t pan out the way you wanted them to. In fact, once you take a minute to breathe deeply and collect yourself, you’ll likely realize that this glitch doesn’t have the devastating and catastrophic effect that you like to think it does when you’re hyped up and over-sensitized.
Yes, life really goes on. And, you need to, too.
I won’t deny it—failure is a tough pill to swallow. It can be pretty brutal, and definitely enough to knock the wind right out of your sails. Believe me, I get it.
But, as with anything, there are helpful lessons to be taken from those situations that tie your stomach into knots and make your eyes well with tears. It’s up to you to glean what you can from them.
Personally, I could write a novel about the many, many setbacks I’ve experienced throughout my life. But, you know what else I could fill those pages with? My successes. And, now that I think about it, those wins were all results of tweaking my approach after previous failures. So, while failing might never be fun, you can bet it will always be valuable.
By Kat Boogaard

https://www.themuse.com/advice/corny-but-so-true-3-life-lessons-failure-teaches-you?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=botw_05222016&utm_source=blueshift&utm_term=bsft_&utm_content=botw_sunday&bsft_eid=ac4c38b6-b90b-413e-8c4e-a3b96f23d66f&bsft_clkid=469ad8b8-9a76-416f-8baa-9621e2b494b6&bsft_uid=d4f9562c-4347-49cb-9544-373dd1f2b1f3

APPS SPECIAL... 17 Great Apps That'll Make Your Life Easier

17 Great Apps That'll Make Your Life Easier

Quick confession.
I’m a productivity nut. I’ll try any productivity apps that have the ability to help me or our team get more done in less time, because every minute counts when growing a startup. Over the past few years, I’ve tried dozens of productivity apps and frameworks to maximize my time, most of which I haven’t yet shared publicly.
In this post, I’ve compiled the best productivity apps that I’ve personally used and can stand by. These tools have shaved off dozens of hours every month, and hopefully they’re just as helpful for you.
Here they are, ranked in order of preference.

1. Freedom

One-sentence Benefit: Have a distraction-free workday by blocking websites.
Freedom prevents the guilty pleasures that we all have of checking our emails, social media, or other websites that distract us from getting things done. What’s useful about this productivity app is that you can use it on any of your devices (i.e., mobile, tablet, desktop), and it allows you to schedule blocked-off times ahead of time.
8 AM to 10 AM is usually the time of the day when I schedule time to write for the blog or write a guest post. While I’ve developed a healthy habit of staying committed to the schedule, whenever I do find myself distracted or unproductive are the times when I’ve forgotten to turn Freedom on.

2. Newsfeed Eradicator

One-sentence Benefit: Replaces your friend’s vacation photos with inspirational quotes.
I know I probably don’t need to dive deeper on this topic, but scrolling through your Facebook Newsfeed can be a workout on its own. While I love staying up-to-date with my friends, I haven’t felt the need to depend on Facebook to do this.
While there’s no data to back this up, my level of productivity and overall happiness seems to have increased since I’ve stopped consuming what others are up to, and started focusing on what I want to do.

3. Hemingway App

One-sentence Benefit: It's basically your personal editor
Hemingway has been a dear friend of mine ever since I’ve started blogging back in 2013. While our relationship has been on and off, whenever I write an important post for Rype’s blog or my personal blog, I go to Hemingway to make sure my writing is error-free.
All you have to do is copy and paste your article into Hemingway, and it will analyze your writing from its readability, grammar errors, alternative suggestions, and so on. If you write often and struggle with the details of writing like I do, definitely check out this app.
4. Papier

One-sentence Benefit: Access your notes without interrupting your flow
Do you ever have a brilliant idea or an important task that you just remembered, while you’re in the middle of working? I can’t speak for anyone else, but what I used to do was pull out Evernote from my desktop or scramble to find a pen and paper to write it down. As simple as it sounds, it completely interrupted my flow, and studies show it takes us 22 minutes to get our focus back after being distracted.
With Papier, all I have to do is open up a new tab (Command + “T” on my Macbook) and write down my ideas or tasks, without interrupting my flow. It saves everything I write down, so all I have to do is open up a new tab to come back to what I wrote.
5. Pocket

One-sentence Benefit: Save articles to read for later (also known as: de-cluttering your browser tabs!)
Does anyone else have a browser tab that looks like this?
That above is what my browser looks like on a good day. When there’s so much content out there to consume and absorb today, it’s hard to keep everything organized without cluttering your browser tab.
This is why I love using Pocket. It allows me to save anything that I want to read for later, and I can decide to come back to read it on my smartphone when I’m stuck in traffic, on the train, or taking a break.
6. Lastpass

One-sentence Benefit: Never forget your password again.
This is probably different from person-to-person, but I personally have multiple different passwords for different apps and tools I use. In the past, I used to save all of my password on an Excel spreadsheet or on my phone—neither of which I recommend for anyone reading this.
Lastpass saves all of my passwords and automatically remembers it the next time I log-in. All you have to do is download the extension on your browser, and it will ask you to save the password you’re using for that specific website. You want to change it or simply remember what password you used, you can log-in to your dashboard and access all of your passwords.
7. Wunderlist
One-sentence Benefit: Meet the ultimate to-do list organizer.
I used to have one giant to-do list, where I would write down all of my tasks for the week. And boy did that list get long and intimidating. It didn’t quite occur in my mind that I should be creating different categories within my to-do list, in order to keep it organized and focused, until my friend recommended Wunderlist.
Now I have over 15 different lists, from personal, work, health, Rype, and so on, and it certainly gives me a peace of mind. I also have it pinned on my browser, so whenever I forget something, I’m one-click away from all of my to-do’s.
8. f.lux

One-sentence Benefit: This provides relief for your eyes.
If you work at a job that requires working in front of a screen for long periods of time (probably many of us), then it’s likely you’re facing eye strain. Over time, it can cause eye irritation, headaches, and reduced focus.
f.lux is a handy tool that adjusts your screen’s lighting (mobile and desktop) according to the time of the day. For example, you may not mind the bright lighting during the day since you want to stay alert, but keeping the blue light on at night time may prevent you from asleep easily. What I normally do is set up a Candle light after 8 PM, which helps my eye and my brain rest before I hit the sheets.
9. Audible
One-sentence Benefit: Audiobooks on-the-go.
I know there are other apps out there, like Scribd or Audiobooks.com, that specialize in audio books. But since I’ve personally used Audible, I decided to make this recommendation. Audible is also owned by Amazon, so they also have the largest library of books available than any of the other players.
If you’ve ever found yourself having idle times (like when you're stuck in traffic, waiting in line, riding the bus), you can stay productive by listening to books from your phone. A powerful tip that I received from a friend, is to listen to audiobooks in 1.5x or 2x speed, which allows you to finish 2x the number of books in half the time. If this is your first time listening to books in accelerated speed, I recommend starting with 1.5x first, then moving up to 2x when you’re more comfortable.
10. One Big Thing
One-sentence Benefit: It helps you focus on what matters.
If you’ve attended any of our free live talks, you’ve probably heard us talk about the importance of finding the 20% of efforts that result in 80% of desired results. This applies to how you learn a new language, who you spend your time with, and what you do during your day.
The “ONE Thing” was introduced in the book, The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results, which is that one task or activity that will make everything else easier or unnecessary, if completed. The truth is, most of the activities we do on a daily basis are not impactful to our end goals. After years of experimenting and facing hard lessons, I’ve learned that the top performers are experts at saying “No” to almost everything that comes their way, and masters at doubling down on the “One Thing” that’s delivering real impact.
In short, this app allows you to put this powerful strategy into practice on a daily basis, by asking you to pick your “One Thing.”
11. Mint.Com

One-sentence Benefit: Your personal finance is now all in one place.
Since many of our readers are savvy-professionals, keeping your personal finance in order is probably a big priority. I normally do my personal finances on a monthly basis (although I should do it more often), and instead of going old school by taking out my spreadsheet, Mint has automatically laid out my expenses, income, and budget analysis for the month.
You can securely connect your banking information to their software, and Mint will automatically update your information for you, providing visual charts and pie graphs to help me understand it visually.
12. Mailbox
One-sentence Benefit: This helps you organize your emails.
One of my biggest goals for this year is to check my emails only twice a day. While it’s unavoidable on certain days, I’ve tried to check once in the morning (around 11 AM) and once in the late afternoon (around 3 to 4 PM).
To help me maintain this productive habit, I’ve been using Mailbox. Since the priority levels of our emails are all different, you can use Mailbox to categorize your emails to read on a later time, or on a later date.
13. Calendly

One-sentence Benefit: This is your personal scheduler.
One of the biggest time-waster that I can think of is sending multiple emails back and forth to schedule one meeting. Now all I do is send the person I’m meeting with my Calendly link, which integrates with my Google Calendar, and the other person can choose a time that works for both of us.
In fact, we’ve even been using Calendly at Rype to make scheduling effortless between our students and teachers.

14. IFTTT
One-sentence Benefit: Automate your life online.
Note: I’m currently not a user of IFTTT, but it’s such a powerful productivity tool that I think many people reading this post will gain some benefit out of trying it out.
IFTTT stands for “If This Then That,” which sums up nicely what its purpose is. If you catch yourself doing the same tasks over and over again, this is a tool worth checking out.
For example, let’s say you write a blog post and you normally spend 15 to 20 minutes promoting the post on Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, or any other networks, you can set this automation task on IFTTT, and save yourself 20 minutes. I’m probably understating the amount of creative tasks you can automate in your life, but luckily IFTTT has a tab where you can find the most popular and trending “recipes” that you can use on your own.
15. Pomodoro
One-sentence Benefit: Get things done with intense focus
I’ve recently adopted the Pomodoro Technique, which is a productivity method developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s. Cirillo realized that our brain isn’t wired to work for long periods of time on the same task, and that we’ll get more done by working in shorter bursts of intense focus on one task.
Here’s how the Pomodoro Technique works:
1. Choose a task you want to complete
2. Work intensely on the task for 25 minutes
3. Take a short five-minute break
4. Repeat four times (steps 1 through 3)
5. Take a longer break (15 to 30 minutes)

The goal is to complete 10 pomodoros per day, which is supposed to help you 
get more done in less time (10 pomodoro’s x 25 minutes = 4.2 hours). I’ve tried this myself, and I can certainly attest to the benefits of working in shorter periods of time with intense focus, because it prevents burnout and you’re much more focused on the task at hand.
There are several productivity apps that are specifically designed to help you run steps one to five on your phone that you can find online.
16. Headspace
One-sentence Benefit: It's a meditation guide on-the-go.
We’ve written extensively on the benefits on meditation, such as increased levels of focus, enhanced happiness, and reduced anxiety. If you told me several years ago that I would take up meditation, I probably wouldn’t have believed you. Today, I can’t imagine doing anything else to maintain my focus and relieve my stress levels.
The problem when I first started meditating was that I didn’t know how to start. I discovered Headspace after I started my meditation practice, but I’ve still been able to gain a lot of benefits from it. You can use the app by finding a quiet place somewhere, and turning on the app which will guide you through a simple meditation practice for 10 minutes a day.
17. Five Minute Journal
One-sentence Benefit: A happier you in five minutes a day.
Building a startup can take a toll on your physical and mental health if you’re not careful. While the cure for physical health is around us everywhere, there doesn’t seem to be an abundance of tools available to take care of our mental health.
I’ve been using the Five Minute Journal to remind myself in the morning:
§  What I’m grateful for…
§  What will make today great…
§  What my personal affirmations are…
Then I reflect my day before I sleep with:
§  Three amazing things that happened today…
§  How could I have made today better…
This last question is my personal favorite, because it constantly pushes me to make my next day better, by learning how I could have made today better.
By Sean Kim

https://www.themuse.com/advice/17-great-apps-thatll-make-your-life-easier?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=20160605_botw&utm_source=blueshift&utm_content=botw_sunday&bsft_eid=4d7e4032-2b47-4003-869c-58350d3aa58a&bsft_clkid=e597315b-7b69-4d07-9294-6f4621467c21&bsft_uid=d4f9562c-4347-49cb-9544-373dd1f2b1f3