Essential Productivity Tools For Everyday Use

Productivity Tools

Summer is almost over and the kids are heading back to school. It’s officially time to crack down, be productive and get things done. Getting back into a rhythm after vacationing can be difficult, so here are some tech tools to make the transition as painless as possible. They can help streamline productivity and organize life — in and out of the office:

 Task management

Nose is an app that allows you to create categories to prioritize tasks, and share projects with people on your team. You will be able to see as team members’ check off tasks in real time, allowing you to stay on top of big projects. It also syncs with Evernote, Dropbox and Google Calendar, making it easy to keep all your important information updated and in one place. Although Nose is a subscription-based service, streamlined productivity is well worth the investment. Available on Mac, Windows and Linux and with mobile apps for Android and iOS, Nose seamlessly transitions from desktop to on-the-go. There’s even an app for the Apple Watch.

Nose can be a bit tricky for folks new to digital organization, so if that seems a little too complicated for your liking, Wunderlist makes a great entry-level productivity tool. Available on Mac and Windows with mobile apps for Android and iOS, Wunderlist is compatible with all major devices (including the Apple Watch).

Wunderlist allows you to organize projects by folder, set reminders and share task lists with others. Individuals can try out the free version, while Wunderlist Pro and Wunderlist for Business offer advanced capabilities for business users.

Password management

LastPass is a great basic password manager, and offers a free version, a subscription version and an enterprise option for businesses. Compatible with desktops, smartphones and tablets, LastPass stores passwords and website information in a centralized “vault,” where users can see and edit their information. LastPass also allows users to store multiple logins for the same site and input payment information to streamline online shopping.

SecureSafe is another password management tool, but it also goes above and beyond with file storage and transfer capabilities. Users can back up and organize important files in one secure location, with the ability to access them from anywhere. It’s compatible with both desktop and mobile devices, and offers options for businesses as well as individual users.

Money management

Mint is a free personal finance app that allows users to integrate multiple accounts (think banking, loans and retirement accounts), budget and keep tabs on upcoming bills. Users can track and categorize spending, set monthly goals and see visual displays of their progress. The app also offers recommendations and money management tips. While it’s compatible with iOS and Android devices, the mobile applications are read-only, so users must set up their accounts from a desktop.

Better Haves is a money management app that allows users to create virtual envelopes for customized categories, like groceries, utilities and entertainment. When spending occurs, users can deduct the amount from the specific category, making it easier to track expenses and stay on budget. Envelopes can be shared with other users, making this app particularly useful for couples. The app is compatible with both iOS and Android devices, and does not offer a desktop version.

Family organization

 The AboutOne Family Organizer provides parents with a centralized place to keep track of the family calendar, health and insurance paperwork, school records, vehicle information, receipts and more. It’ll also send users reminders when it’s time to fill prescriptions, make appointments or for upcoming events. There are several different pricing options available, including a basic free version. AboutOne is available for both Android and iOS devices.

Cozi is another app that allows parents to manage family schedules, shopping lists, chores, meals and more. It can send appointment reminders through the mobile app or email, and it delivers weekly agendas straight to your inbox. Cozi is available for both Android and iOS devices, and can be updated from desktops.

These apps can help make home and office life a lot more organised and productive. Keep in mind however that the use of a succession of technologically based apps can actually have a reverse effect on your productivity levels. Do not become a victim of productivity app overload. Use only the ones that truly help to streamline your work life and that aid in keeping you on track in relation to your everyday circumstances.

About the National Competitiveness and Productivity Council (NCPC)

Established in October 2013, The National Competitiveness and Productivity Council (NCPC) is responsible for the identification of key issues related to competitiveness and productivity in Saint Lucia.

The NCPC and its Technical Secretariat is committed to providing the necessary advocacy and research to produce timely and effective recommendations to policymakers on issues that affect both competitiveness and productivity on island. For more information about productivity or on the NCPC, visit www.stluciancpc.org; www.facebook.com/stluciancpc, call 468-5571/5576 or send an e-mail to stluciancpc@gmail.com

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Caribbean Innovation Competition To Promote Regional Entrepreneurship

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The 2017 Caribbean Innovation Competition (CIC) is currently underway with the official launch slated for September 1st in Bridgetown, Barbados. The competition, a brainchild of Young Americas Business Trust (YABT), in collaboration with REACH and other regional partners, is an international support programme and business start-up accelerator for entrepreneurs in the Caribbean.

Through this programme, the organizers aim to help transform intellectual ideas and intelligent solutions into profitable business models through the commercialization of Intellectual Entrepreneurial Assets (IEAs).

Following the launch on September 1st, there will be a Mini Business Lab (M-Lab), an intensive hands-on session, targeting potential entrepreneurs, to generate innovative ideas that can later be transformed into profitable businesses. This training methodology has been adapted to a condensed but effective one-day session where practical tools in the process in business creation willbe provided.

This year’s CIC is focused on “Digital Enterprises.” Consequently the competition will award projects in the following categories:

  • Creative Industries – generating, disseminating and commercialization of creative content in sectors such as: film, radio and TV production, advertising, music, design, videogames, fashion, performing arts, among others.
  • Technology Commercialization – effective transfer of university, engineering and research products, IP and other discoveries to the marketplace for the benefit of society. This includes sectors such as Education, Health, Engineering, and Agriculture.

The CIC which is currently in its third year will connect entrepreneurs with mentors whilst providing online training and additional resources throughout the process.

For more information on the Caribbean Innovation Competition (CIC) please visit http://www.reachcompetition.net/

Sharing is Caring

Information Sharing: The Key to Greater Productivity!

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I’m confident that you’ve been there at one point or another; new job, new working environment, new employees and the new and varied personalities which ensue. Starting a new job can be an exciting, but at the same time quite daunting experience. The fear of not knowing what to expect from your new colleagues can leave you feeling like a fish out of water.

In the first thirty (30) days after you commence employment you will generally feel that you have something to prove. After all, you were chosen from several highly qualified candidates to do a job and therefore you want to ensure that the employer does not regret their decision. You want to demonstrate how much of an expert you are on all topics in and out of your scope of work and you want to master organizational processes which may have very well taken other employees years to grasp.

If you’re lucky, you’ll get an official induction/orientation on the job or possibly find that one employee who is willing to take you under his or her wing and ensure that you grasp all the necessary information to carry out your job in an efficient manner. Sadly, the reality is that most times new recruits are left to “figure it out” all on their own. While being able to work independently and take initiative are very highly sought after job skills, providing little to no support to a new recruit may severely impact organizational productivity.

In her article entitled, The Effect of Communication on Productivity, entrepreneur and award-winning journalist Linda Ray states, “Productivity increases when your employees are satisfied with their jobs and with the level of communication they receive from management. […] When employees receive regular feedback on their performance, and are told what’s going on in the company and what role they play in the overall success of the business, they will reward you by working harder and more efficiently.

As elementary as it may seem, information sharing and communication are pivotal factors in increasing job efficiency and productivity. Consequently, one of the major shortcomings of modern-day organizations is that the leaders tend to assume and often expect employees to have information that they have not formally disseminated. Employee ignorance (lack of knowledge), particularly as it pertains to what exactly required of them in their specific job function and how it fits into the overall organization strategic objectives, generally results in misunderstanding. An employee may therefore spend much time engaging in time- wasting activities which add little value to achieving the company’s vision and mission which may hinder personal and organizational productivity in the process.

Every organization wants to improve productivity and efficiency. Thankfully, communications and information sharing has become increasingly easier since the advent of the Internet/technological age. Leaders now have a multitude tools at their fingertips to ensure that their subordinates are kept up to date, almost instantaneously.

When leaders take the time to ensure that employees are informed the positive outcome is immediately visible. Firstly, there is less misunderstanding as employees have a clear idea and direction of what is required of them and the overall reason for what they are doing. Employees also feel that they are empowered to do their work as management has made their inclusion in the “big picture” a priority. Additionally, there is increased accountability as employees know exactly what they are working towards and want to ensure that they deliver on what is expected of them.

By properly managing their information sharing and overall communications processes organizations will undoubtedly achieve the productivity gains they are searching for. Not only will this boost employee morale and increase productivity, it will also result in an overall more pleasant working environment.
About the National Competitiveness and Productivity Council (NCPC)

Established in October 2013, The National Competitiveness and Productivity Council (NCPC) is responsible for the identification of key issues related to competitiveness and productivity in Saint Lucia.

The NCPC and its Technical Secretariat is committed to providing the necessary advocacy and research to produce timely and effective recommendations to policymakers on issues that affect both competitiveness and productivity on island. For more information about productivity or on the NCPC, visit www.stluciancpc.org; www.facebook.com/stluciancpc, call 468-5571/5576 or send an e-mail to stluciancpc@gmail.com

The Productivity and Personality Connection

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The word productivity evokes a plethora of sentiments. For the modern organization, productivity is heavily sought after and often synonymous with efficiency and reliability.  However, the way in which productivity is packaged or presented generally determines an employee’s attitude and receptivity towards this ideal. While at the surface productivity may seem like a very simple concept; i.e. “the ratio of output per unit of input”, for employees, it might be misconstrued as “just another thing” to add to an already long to-do-list.

In examining productivity levels and finding solutions to productive inefficiencies at an organizational level, business leaders tend to direct most of their efforts towards process improvement strategies. While processes have a major part to play in making or breaking businesses, there is another very important factor which is far too often neglected; PEOPLE!

People are at the core of productivity. An organization may have all the right processes in place, offer the best training and equipment but if the employees (people) do not have the right attitude or personality, productivity will take a significant dive. Understanding employee personalities is therefore an integral part of mastering the productivity equation.

What is personality?

American psychologist Gordon Willard Allport describes personality as “the dynamic organization within the individual of those psychophysical systems that determine his characteristics behavior and thought” (Allport, 1961, p. 28). Weinberg and Gould offer an even simpler definition; “The characteristics or blend of characteristics that make a person unique” (Weinberg & Gould, 1999).

How we think and feel is therefore no coincidence. In fact, our thoughts and feelings are determined by a number of characteristics which make each of us unique. Psychologists have identified five broad categories of underlying personality traits which affect how we act and react. These traits; extraversion, agreeableness, openness, conscientiousness and neuroticism/emotional stability are more commonly known as “The Big 5.”

How does personality affect productivity?

Laboratory research carried out by Maria Cubel et al, which appeared in the May 2016 issue of The Economic Journal explored the relationship between labour market performance and productivity. In particular, this research sought to analyse the impact of “The Big 5” personality traits on performance. The research revealed, that “neurotic/emotionally unstable” employees perform badly in the workplace while individuals with conscientious personality traits performed better. Additionally, personality traits like extraversion and openness had a major impact on employee productivity.  

Now that we know this, what can we do with it?

 The truth of the matter is that while genetic pre-dispositions may cause a person to favour or portray one personality trait over another, personality traits are not fixed. In fact, regardless of underlying personality traits, an individual’s reaction to a given situation would be conditioned by the situation in question and a number of other variables. Personality is far too complexed to simply conclude that all emotionally stable and conscientious people will be highly productive.  Each situation and individual would need to be examined on a case by case basis.

Notwithstanding, the results of this research will not only greatly help employees with self-assessment and subsequent self-improvement but similarly it will be a very useful tool for leaders seeking to build high performing teams. Understanding the connection between personality and productivity will help employers/prospective employers understand their employees even better and will prove very useful in working with employees to achieve greater productivity and organizational success.

About the National Competitiveness and Productivity Council (NCPC)

Established in October 2013, The National Competitiveness and Productivity Council (NCPC) is responsible for the identification of key issues related to competitiveness and productivity in Saint Lucia.

The NCPC and its Technical Secretariat is committed to providing the necessary advocacy and research to produce timely and effective recommendations to policymakers on issues that affect both competitiveness and productivity on island. For more information about productivity or on the NCPC, visit www.stluciancpc.org; www.facebook.com/stluciancpc, call 468-5571/5576 or send an e-mail to stluciancpc@gmail.com