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5 Simple Tools To Maximize Productivity

Being productive has been one of the biggest struggles I’ve faced in my work. For a long time, I was an expert at avoiding my most important tasks.

I would put off doing what mattered most. Day after day, year after year. The longer I put it off, the more difficult each task seemed.

I’ve improved a lot since then. In this article, I share 5 tools that have helped. With them, productivity takes less willpower.

Increasing your willpower can be difficult. Decreasing the amount you need for a task is much easier.

Wake-Up Light

Productivity begins when you wake up in the morning. Some say the first thing you do in the morning determines how your day goes. I think that’s too late.

Your sleep cycle determines how your day goes. Where you’re at in your sleep cycle when you wake up makes the difference between being groggy and fully awake. This effect lasts most of the day.

Waking up at the end of a sleep cycle is essential. I use the Philips Wake-Up Light to gently wake me before my alarm goes off. The gradually increasing light typically causes me to wake up at the end of a sleep cycle, if I time it right.

In order for this to work, you have to get enough sleep to be fully rested. There are apps such as Sleep Cycle that time your sleep in order for the alarm to go off in between cycles.

Cube Timer

I find a timer essential to get anything done efficiently. Start by choosing your task, then set the timer and get started. Knowing there’s a time limit forces you to stay on task.

I use a Cube Timer, but there are countless options. Using a timer on your phone is the easiest way to begin.


The app Brain.FM creates music that affects your mental state. Listen with headphones, and it will make you more focused, relaxed or creative.

Music is a powerful tool for changing your mental state. Its effect is a form of hypnosis. That’s why it’s important to be conscious about what you listen to.

With binaural beats from Brain.FM, focus becomes much more powerful. I achieve a flow state much more often when I use this app. A 45 minute session will fly by. The key is remembering to start it before a work session.

Freedom is a well-named app that blocks time-wasting websites. It works on all kinds of devices.

It’s extremely customizable. You tell it exactly which websites to block. It can block them for however long you decide, and you can schedule sessions ahead of time, too.

To be honest, I just signed up for the lifetime plan today. It’s already clear this app will have a huge impact on my productivity. Now that it has mobile support, it’s well worth the investment.


This innovative product is like Freedom, but for physical objects. It’s a plastic container that locks for however long you specify, and there is no override feature.

If you’ve seen The Social Dilemma, you’ll recognize it as the device one character breaks to get her phone back. The great thing about the K-Safe is how versatile it is.

You can use it to limit drinking or smoking. Put your phone in it for an hour, and you’ll be much less distracted. If you like to keep some chocolate around, keep it in the K-Safe so you only have it once in a while.

Which One Works For You?

Controlling your environment is the best way to control your behavior. The above tools help with focus and willpower, making daily tasks much easier to start.

If you feel so inclined, choose one tool and try it out today! Or you can post your favorite productivity tool in the comments below.

Thanks for reading!

Joel Smith

Author and writing coach at The Fit Writer.

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