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It seems like every day there is a new productivity app available which promises to save you hours of time and streamline the chaos of your life.
Having so many options is awesome. But it can also be overwhelming. In fact, all those productivity apps might even be hurting your productivity!
Consider that 77% of downloaders don't use an app again after three days. That means a lot of people are wasting time searching for apps which are supposed to save them time.
As David Allen, author of Getting Things Done, told WSJ, many people jump from one productivity app to another: They “let themselves be directed by the latest and loudest.”
Worse, many people end up hiding behind their productivity apps. They spend more time making fancy to-do lists on the app than actually doing anything.
The sad truth is that no one app is going to turn you into a productivity monster. The only way to get more things done is to work hard.
That’s not to say productivity tools can’t help. Just don’t get caught in the trap of hiding behind them and saying, “If only I had a new app, I’d be able to accomplish X, Y, and Z.”
To solve the app-overload problem, Allen recommends looking at what areas you are weak in and finding apps which help in those specific areas.
Productivity apps can help with ALL of these weaknesses (plus many more).
Because people have so many different weaknesses affecting their use of time, this isn’t going to be your typical list of productivity apps. Sure, you’ll find some to-do list apps -- but you’ll also find apps which can help you be productive in all areas of your life.
Take a look at this interactive infographic made with Visme or read a more detailed description of each app below.
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One of the areas where people waste the most time at work is emails. Newton helps by putting all of your email clients in one place. It also lets you track whether an email has been read – which is really useful for when you are waiting on a response before taking action.
Are you still communicating with team members via email? Communicating with email gets really messy and things easily get lost. Slack solves the problem by acting as something between email and instant messaging. You can easily send messages or files to a group or individual in a very organized manner. It works so well that I even use it after work to organize nights on the town with friends!
Typos and bad grammar have become a fact of life today -- but they shouldn’t be! The Grammarly app lets you impress all of your clients and coworkers with your perfect grammar in every email, messages, documents, social media, and pretty much anywhere you write. The beauty is that you don’t even have to use up your brainpower because the app does the work for you.
Tired of chaotic meetings where no one is on the same page? Minute solves the problem by allowing organizers to share the meeting agenda with the team. The team can even get involved with the meeting schedule by adding their own items to the agenda, and it is easy to move around items on the schedule. Features like timers for each topic help ensure the meeting stays on track.
When you factor in everyone’s time, holding meetings can be very costly. Meeting Ticker helps you figure out whether it is worth it to hold a meeting by calculating the average hourly rate of each participant and the meeting length. You’ll think twice before wasting time on unnecessary meetings again!
Take Slack to a whole new level with Cisco Spark Meeting notes app. The app gives you a message each morning with all of your meeting info for the day. This is a must-have for anyone who leads multiple meetings per day.
Sometimes, putting your nose to the grindstone does NOT improve productivity. You need to take a break in order to clear your mind and get focused. That’s where Be Focused comes in. It is a timer that uses the Pomodoro technique, where you work for a set period of time and then take a short break. The Pro version of Be Focused comes with some other useful features like time tracking and reporting for clients.
If you are sick of productivity apps with dozens of complicated features that you never actually use, then you’ll appreciate the simplicity of FocusList. It makes a list of tasks, the estimated time to complete each task, and allows you to set a time for each task. To help you focus, the app also uses the Pomodoro technique by giving you 25 minutes of work followed by 5 minutes of rest.
RescueTime app runs in the background while you use your computer or devices. The productivity app tracks how much time is spent on apps and websites and then reports this data so you get a clear view of your day. Armed with this info, you can use RescueTime to stay on task with its features like site-blocking and alerts for when you spend too much time on specific sites.
You’re searching for info online and come across a super interesting article. Then you come across another. Next thing you know, you’ve spent hours reading articles but not getting any real work done.
Pocket is a very popular productivity app because it allows you to save all of the articles you want to read for a later time. A particularly cool thing about the app is that it will even read the articles out loud to you, such as while you are driving.
Everyone has that one site which is their Achilles heel for productivity. Maybe it’s Facebook. Or Reddit. Or just some awesome blog. StayFocusd is a productivity app which helps you stay on target. Unlike many other basic website-blocked apps, StayFocusd has advanced features. You can block entire websites, subdomains, paths, or set limits on how much time you can spend at certain sites.
Online ads are incredibly distracting and can kill your productivity. Even though Adblock Plus has been around for a long time, surprisingly many people still don’t use it.
The first step to becoming more productive is to know where you spend (i.e. waste) your time. There are dozens of great time-tracking apps which can help you do this. Not all time-tracking apps are created equally though.
Freelances who work solo can usually get by with a basic app to keep track of work hours, like MyHours or Hours. For more detailed breakdowns of how you spend your time, Freckle has some good features like charts, categories, tags, and advanced reporting.
Trello is a project management app which lets you create “boards” with “cards” on each board. You can then write messages and attach files within each card. The simplicity of the system makes it really easy to organize all types of projects with teams.
We were impressed when Siri hit the scene, but Google Assistant is taking AI to a whole new level. The app makes things much more conversational as you ask your phone for advice on where to have dinner, to cue up your Netflix shows, to read you the news, or dozens of other tasks that save you time.
Not everyone wants a complicated calendar app. Journl is elegantly simple and allows you to easily make lists, notes, and calendar entries that sync across devices. There are no advertisements or in-app purchases – just simplicity and calm.
Do you share a lot of documents or spreadsheets with team members? It doesn’t seem like much, but all that time spent saving, uploading, and opening files can add up to a lot of wasted time. You’ll save time (plus a lot of energy) by switching to cloud-based documents instead. As someone who has been using Microsoft Office since before the internet era, I just can’t get used to Google Drive and prefer Office 365.
Hate pulling yourself out of bed in the morning and end up oversleeping? Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock is smart about waking you up. It analyzes your sleep patterns and wakes you up during the lightest phase of sleep (not during that lovely REM sleep). It does this with a built-in microphone which analyzes your sleep movements.
The average person spends 41 minutes in a grocery store -- and that doesn’t even include time spent getting to and from the store! Considering that pretty much every major grocery store now offers delivery, why the heck would anyone waste time actually going to the supermarket? Shipt is one of the better grocery store delivery apps. But, if it doesn’t serve your area, find one that does. Other good options are Instacart and Peapod.
Once telemarketers get a hold of your cell number, you feel doomed when the phone rings. Call Blocker saves you the hassle and annoyance by blocking telemarketer calls. It claims to block over 2 million spam numbers and is updated daily.
A wardrobe app might not seem like a productivity app, until you consider that women spend the equivalent of 10 days per year getting ready. Stylebook helps you out by keeping an online catalogue of your wardrobe and helping you generate outfits. It also has a slew of other style features like packing lists, inspiration library, and a calendar of what you wore.
Meditating can do wonders for your mental clarity and productivity. Calm is an app which makes meditating easier by offering dozens of guided sessions.
There is something about the physical act of writing something down on paper which makes it easier to remember and mentally-digest. Having a notebook handy is also crucial for creative people who often get ideas at times like when they are in bed when powering up a digital gadget isn’t smart, especially since digital gadgets mess with sleep.
Other classic ways to lose productivity include not listening, letting technology or social media interrupt, and procrastinating. These are habits that are all too easily repeated.
For any block of time set aside for work, try these tips: set goals, don’t multitask, take breaks, and separate strategic and mindless tasks. Or, you could try using time-tracking software to stay focused.
The best productivity tip I ever got was to close all browser tabs other than one or two. At the time I got the tip, I had two browser windows open with at least two dozen tabs on each.
Closing all of those tabs reduces the chaos and helps you focus on what really needs to get done. So check how many open tabs you have open right now -- and start closing them!
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