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Five Dictation Apps to Boost Productivity

BONUS FREEBIE: Want even more ways to stay organized, productive and less stressed? Click here to get access to my List-Making Starter Kit. It will boost your efficiency and get you back to doing more of the things you love.

One of my favorite productivity hacks is using dictation apps. Dictating is an underrated tool for getting more done. It’s really helped me curb procrastination by making it easy for me to quickly send out text messages and emails. Video can also be a powerful productivity tool but there’s something to be said for straight up audio as well. 

When I started working from home, I needed to make some changes to my work style to get my home office up and running. Using dictation software was one of those little things that really connected with my productivity style. It helps me stay on track while I’m working remotely.

You can send messages so much faster by dictating them, and I find it easier to get my point across when I can just speak naturally. Same goes for leaving audio or video messages.

Plus, dictation apps let you stay focused on your main task while also taking care of little things that pop up. I love not having to go through the hassle of typing anything out — I just speak and send! (Sometimes I do have to change a word here or there if it’s not 100% accurate.)

I have an iPhone and a Mac, so I sometimes use the dictation features included with those devices. You can learn how to set up dictation on your iPhone, iPad, and Mac here

But if you don’t use Apple products or you want to try one of the great dictation apps out there, here’s a rundown of your options: 

Diction.io 

This is a perfect starting point for dictation if you want to try it out before committing to buying anything. Diction.io is completely free and web-based, and it uses Google Speech Recognition to translate your words to text. You can save your text as a file or copy and paste it into an email or text. You can get started with it here

Google Docs Dictation

This feature on Google Docs is another simple way to start dictating. It’s free and easy to use. You can copy and paste the text into an email or text message if you want to, or you can use this to brainstorm if you feel more creative when you’re speaking rather than typing. And if you’re already using Google Docs, this is a seamless addition that can help you jumpstart your productivity while writing. You can learn how to set it up here. 

Dragon Dictation

Dragon Dictation is a great option if you want a comprehensive option with a software component. It’s very accurate and allows you to perform a bunch of actions, including searching the web. You can integrate Dragon Dictation with your apps so that you can compose emails directly (no copy-paste needed!). It is one of the pricier options, though. Dragon Dictation has versions for Windows that start at $150, or a mobile app version that works with Apple or Android products that costs $150 for a yearly subscription. You can find out more about it here

Speechy

This app is available for iPhones and iPads, and it has a bunch of great features. You can easily share, translate, and edit the text. Plus, it records your original audio too. And doesn’t time out if you’re talking for a long period of time! There’s a free version and the premium one costs $9.99 to download. You can check it out here. 

Speechnotes

For Android users, Speechnotes is a simple, functional option. One useful feature is the punctuation keyboard, which allows you to press a button to insert punctuation instead of having to say “comma” and “period.” And it’s free! You can take a look here.

I hope these suggestions help you get started with dictation. It’s a little unconventional but it’s made a big difference for me.

Are there any dictation apps or websites you like to use? I’d love to hear about them.

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Behind the Scenes of My LinkedIn Learning Shoot

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I was supposed to be in LA shooting my two LinkedIn Learning courses based on my books Listful Thinking and Listful Living

But because of Covid-19, I obviously couldn’t get on a plane and travel.

Instead, LinkedIn sent me all the equipment to shoot the courses in my apartment. My husband Jay helped me set up the lights and camera, and he even ran the teleprompter! 

This was an unexpected situation, but we made it work. Here’s some behind-the-scenes insights. 

We used our living room as the studio for the three days of the shoot. We set up the lighting that LinkedIn sent so that the video quality looked good. Their amazing team walked us through the setup step by step! 

I also followed my own advice and did my own camera-ready makeup. Thanks to some tips from my friend and former colleague at Fox New Channel, Iren Halperin, I was able to create a professional look from home. Normally I would have had professional hair and makeup so I had to improvise! 

Since I shot the courses from home, I had to make my apartment feel just as professional as a studio.

Even though I was recording just steps away from my kitchen, I tricked my brain into feeling like I was in a real studio by getting ready the same way I would have if I was in LA. Hair, makeup, clothes — the whole deal. 

If you’ve been working from home, you’re probably tempted to wear your PJ pants while you’re on video calls. I know – they’re comfy!

But whether you’re recording a course or having a meeting, getting fully dressed will help put you in the right mood for being productive and professional. 

I’m so excited to share these courses with you in the next couple of months. You can follow me on LinkedIn for updates. 

BONUS FREEBIE: Want even more ways to stay organized, productive and less stressed? Click here to get access to my List-Making Starter Kit. It will boost your efficiency and get you back to doing more of the things you love.

Write a Letter To Your Future Self About COVID-19

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Before I decided to start my own business as an author, speaker, and media trainer, I worked as a senior health producer for television news. Even though I loved my job, the time came when I realized I wanted to move on. 

The day I realized I needed a change, I wrote myself a long email about how I was feeling. I used an app called Boomerang for Gmail to schedule the email to arrive in my inbox one year later.

I knew that if I didn’t document how I was feeling in that moment, I would be able to trick myself into forgetting that it was time for me to start something new. 

It’s true – there was a Stanford University study done that found your brain filters out the information it doesn’t think you’ll need later. So your brain has a hard time holding onto all the information and emotions you have.

But some of the things you forget actually ARE relevant and important. I wrote about this in my book Listful Living.

That’s why writing yourself a letter right now, during this unusual time, can help you remember the lessons you’re learning. 

Here’s the video I shot with my tips for writing yourself a letter.

This doesn’t have to be a perfect letter. Just write about what you’re feeling, no matter what those emotions are. 

What do you miss? 

What are the things you’ll be grateful for when things go back to normal?

What changes do you realize you want to make?

When that email I wrote to myself came one year later, I was in the process of leaving my job to start my business. I was scared, but reading that letter from myself was a reminder that I’d known for a long time that this was what I needed to do. 

Right now, you’re probably having realizations about what’s really important in your life. But when the routines of regular life start up again, you might forget. 

So let’s all try this together. And in one year, we can check in with each other about what our letters say and how we’re going to use our insights to lead happier, more productive lives

BONUS FREEBIE: Want even more ways to stay organized, productive and less stressed? Click here to get access to my List-Making Starter Kit. It will boost your efficiency and get you back to doing more of the things you love.

Four Ways to Focus on Your Goals During Lockdown

BONUS FREEBIE: Want even more ways to stay organized, productive and less stressed? Click here to get access to my List-Making Starter Kit. It will boost your efficiency and get you back to doing more of the things you love.

Do you feel overwhelmed by all the “helpful” content all over social media and the internet? I know I do. Everyone is sharing information on the positive things we can do during quarantine. 

From baking bread to learning new yoga routines, it seems like tips for being more productive and learning new skills are everywhere you look. 

Lots of people are feeling the urge to use this time to do something new and productive. But sometimes it just feels like there’s too many options. The pressure of all those things to do can be really stressful!

And you definitely don’t need more stress in your life — especially not during a pandemic. From adjusting to working from home to figuring out how to maintain healthy relationships with roommates or family members, everyone is figuring out how to stay sane and productive. 

That’s why it’s especially important to be mindful about what kinds of content you’re engaging with right now. 

I filmed a video with my four tips for clearing the clutter and making time for what you really want to do.

Make a list of the things you wanted to do before quarantine. 

If all this content is causing you stress, think about whether you’d have wanted to try these hobbies and tips before lockdown. If the answer is no, try to remember what you always wished you had time to do. Give yourself some a few minutes to brainstorm, and then see which of those goals is still viable with the restrictions of the pandemic. From there, you can decide which couple of things you want to try first. This isn’t just something that will help you during this time of crisis — it’ll be crucial as you design your post-pandemic life.

Find themes. 

Once you have a list of things you’d like to try, think about what themes show up. Are multiple items on your list related to getting involved in your community? Do you want to work on mindfulness? Are you hoping to be a more adventurous cook? Identifying these categories is a helpful trick for seeing which pandemic trends actually align with your existing interests. 

This is something I talk about in Listful Living. If you’re feeling overextended or burned out, it’s time to start thinking about which commitments and activities fit with your priorities. And what was a priority pre-pandemic might not be anymore. 

Cut down on screen time.

If you’re in the habit of spending your free time scrolling through social media, you’re probably seeing all kinds of ideas on how to introduce more positivity and productivity into your quarantine routine. All those options might make you feel pretty anxious. 

If this sounds like you, maybe it’s time to cap your screen time. When you find yourself mindlessly reaching for your phone, think about whether you’d feel better using the time to work on one of the projects you’ve already written down. Seeing lots of new ideas can distract you from what you already know you want to do. If you need help thinking of ideas, give yourself a set amount of time to search the internet for inspiration.

Keep track of the content you connect with. 

Lots of the positive content that’s out there can be helpful — but only if you have a way to interact with it that doesn’t cause more stress. If you do see something online that you think sounds interesting, keep a list of ideas. That way, you can keep track of things without feeling like you need to do it all right now. Maybe you saw a productivity hack that would make sense for you in a few weeks. Maybe a friend told you about a yoga routine she loves, but you’re just not feeling up to it right now.

Whether it’s a notebook or an app, keeping a running brainstorming list of all the best tips and ideas you come across will help you unload and focus on what you want to be doing right now. It’s key to think about what you need in your life today, not a week from now. If there’s an idea you love but aren’t ready to try, put it on hold until it makes sense for you and your life. 

Everyone is experiencing the pandemic differently, so what’s helpful for other people right now might not fit with your needs. Acknowledging this will help you prioritize the things that do fit. 

By spending less mindless time online and creating a system for keeping track of the interesting tips and new hobbies you come across, you can start taking control of your time. 

Do you have any tips for prioritizing your goals during lockdown? I’d love to hear about them in the comments. 

BONUS FREEBIE: Want even more ways to stay organized, productive and less stressed? Click here to get access to my List-Making Starter Kit. It will boost your efficiency and get you back to doing more of the things you love.

The Top Three List-Making Apps

BONUS FREEBIE: Want even more ways to stay organized, productive and less stressed? Click here to get access to my List-Making Starter Kit. It will boost your efficiency and get you back to doing more of the things you love.

As you know, I’m all about lists. I’ve tested lots of list-making apps — there are thousands on the App Store! I used to always suggest Wunderlist, but it’s shutting down on May 6. Here’s three alternatives that I recommend:

Clear

Clear is a beautiful app — I love looking at it. The simplicity of the design helps me stay focused. You use gestures (pulling down, pinching, and swiping with your fingers) to add and manage tasks. Each task can only be 30 characters, which means you have to write exactly what you need to do and nothing else. If you have complex things to do that require longer explanations, this might not work for you, but it’s great for unloading your mind and keeping track of straightforward tasks. I also like how the tasks are color-coded according to urgency.

The app costs $4.99. 

Todoist

Todoist is great if you’re looking for a straightforward, well-designed task manager app. There’s lots of features I like in this app, including the option to connect with your other apps and devices, like Google Calendar, Dropbox, and Amazon Alexa.

You can schedule recurring tasks or use “quick add” to pop something on your list. Todoist also has a business version so that your team can assign tasks, communicate with each other, and share files all in one place. It’s a nice mix between a complex task management system and a simple list-making app, since it has lots of features but it’s also easy to use and you can use as many (or as few) extra features as you need. Plus, you can also import data from Wunderlist into Todoist. 

The basic app is free, and the business and premium versions cost $29 per year per person. 

Zenkit To Do

Zenkit To Do is probably the most complex of the three apps. It’s still intuitive to use, but it has the most options and add-ons, making it great for people who need to manage lots of complex tasks. You can share lists with other uses, assign and add due dates, and leave comments. There are also “quick add” and recurring task features. I especially like the offline feature, which lets you keep working when you’re not connected to the internet. You can easily import all your due dates, tasks, and lists from Wunderlist to Zenkit To Do — you can learn how to switch here

The personal version is free. The version that allows multiple users to collaborate is $4 per month per user, and the business versions start at $19 per month per user. 

I hope this helps you find the list-making app that fits your needs. If you have recommendations of list-making apps you like, I’d love to hear about them in the comments!

BONUS FREEBIE: Want even more ways to stay organized, productive and less stressed? Click here to get access to my List-Making Starter Kit. It will boost your efficiency and get you back to doing more of the things you love.