As I walk the corridors, and while passing through several offices in my company’s building, I notice that “busy” is amongst the most overused words. I hear, it seems like all the time, exclaims and people calling out phrases like “I’m too busy” or “I don’t have enough time to…”

How often do you actually achieve results while you are being” busy”? Not too often, I presume. But you need to know that optimum productivity is the 21st century trend, so we must switch our focus from being busy to being productive, so that we can accomplish more, see tangible results, and also have some time for relaxation and fun.

Breaking the routine may seem hard at first, so here are four items you can start with

1. 10 min planning session

Knowing what task we have ahead of us, and how we’re planning on tackling it can help us feel more in control of our work. When we feel that way, we alleviate stress. So spend 10 minutes prioritizing and strategizing your work for the day. Don’t try to handle any of your to-do’s in these 10 minutes. Allocate this time just for planning.

 2. Have a to-do list for things that MUST get done today

Here MUST is the key word. This is where a lot of people go wrong. They start out to make a list, and they keep adding and adding all the things they should’ve done, all the things they want to do, and all the things they wish they could do or could have done. They end up with a mile long list, and find it so daunting that any motivation for tackling it disappears. A “MUST get done today” list should have no more than 3-8 items, depending on how hard and time consuming they are, and also taking into consideration your area of work.

3. Learn Single Tasking

We live in a society that views multi-tasking as a skill. People proudly claim that they can multi-task, do everything at once. I used to be one of those people, and I still am to some extent. But when you really think about it and analyze your results, multi-tasking does not achieve the equal amount or same quality of results that you can get by focusing on a single task at a time.

4. Use productivity tools

As mentioned above, obtaining maximum productivity is more than a need in today’s competitive business environment. As most small business owners realize, finding a balance, a golden rule so to speak, and achieving the best use of your working hours is a necessity, and in most cases a matter of financial survival for your corporation. Staying on track, however, becomes increasingly difficult, if not impossible, as things move in a frenzy speed.

Luckily, modern technology comes to our aid, and claims to have produced the tools to make it happen. Still, the fact of the matter is that such tools are produced literally in the thousands, and most of them are very cleverly marketed and presented to potential users. Making an initial market search will make you tempted to give the whole idea up, but you should not let confusion get the best of you.

As you watch the presentation videos of various tools and apps, think about what type of tool best fits your needs. Do you usually work on a desktop, or would you prefer a mobile solution? How much data or what types of lists do you want your tool to have? What is the best value /cost solution? Some applications even offer free trial periods, why not take advantage of that? Does a tool look impressive to you? If you like it, then you have better chances of making a good match and using it effectively. Finally, get as much feedback as you can from people you know who use such tools.

Here is a very short list of tools that could probably catch your fancy, and make you more productive and stress free than you ever imagined you could be

Asana

A classic solution that also offers a variety of apps and tools. Used on a daily basis you can schedule and create your to-do lists. All action points from team meetings could be uploaded to the platform, and managers should use this to allocate tasks to team members. You can have access to your task list on the go, track progress, and keep all communication in relation to a task in one place. You can also set up your Organization or Workspace, create projects and tasks, understand permission settings, invite teammates, get to know premium plans, and more. You can download the app onto your mobile at https://asana.com

Carrot

Advertised as The To-Do List with a Personality, the app urges us to play a game called “Don’t Suck On Life”. The motto continues with the rules which are simple: “Get stuff done in real life.-Get rewarded”. Smart caveat, interesting presentation. Carrot Fit adds a nice touch. First impression? A quality product that looks promising.http://meetcarrot.com/todo/

Evernote

Making the list for the 10 Best Windows Apps To Boost Your Productivity  , Evernote is a digital notebook you can use to type, scribble, or scan notes; copy and paste content from the Web; store pictures; and record audio notes with a microphone. The app is noted as an essential part in any virtual toolbox, as it makes it easy to organize and share notes across devices or with other people. Visit evernote