Everyone these days is talking about personal performance and complaining that they are just not productive enough. Under the constant pressure to do better and achieve more in everything we do, we often feel overwhelmed. We strive to be more efficient, to save time on mundane tasks and to get more done. We want to be outstanding at what we do but still have time for activities that we love and spending time with our families.
This is why self-improvement gurus and self-help books are raking in millions by offering to share their “top productivity secrets”. These usually turn out to be generic theories like the 80/20 rule or common sense tips such as delegating tasks or breaking up big tasks into smaller ones. The big “insider secrets” are nothing more than bogus blabber.
If you want a more tangible and direct route to boost your productivity immediately, you’re reading the right book! The best way to achieve peak productivity requires nothing more than your smartphone, tablet or laptop, and a productivity application.
Productivity apps are the hottest things on the market today. Software developers have cleverly identified the major pain points that people have when it comes to being more productive. The result has been an explosion of productivity apps geared towards tackling different hurdles to productivity.
Whatever your profession or niche, whatever aspect of productivity you want to boost, there is an app for it.
This book will present seven peak productivity apps that can help you achieve your work more efficiently and make your life so much easier. All of them are straightforward and super-easy to use. The only difficulty you might have is choosing which ones to use as they are all awesome!
Chapter 1: Overview
What Are Productivity Apps?
A productivity app is a software that is specially devised to help you save time, be better organized, be able to achieve certain tasks faster, leading to increased productivity. There are hundreds of apps available today that can help you become more efficient in almost every area of your life.
There are apps to help you organize exercise routines and workout times. There are apps to help you track calories and organize meal plans for diets. Some apps help you organize your social media activity while others help with sharing information and collaboration, as well as organizing daily tasks and schedules. Whatever you want to be more efficient in your life, there’s an app for it!
How Do Productivity Apps Work?
Productivity apps simply make brilliant use of technology: lightning-fast internet, smartphones, tablets and laptops, as well as dedicated servers that help keep the apps functioning and up to date.
All of this comes together to provide users with a seamless experience with no effort on their part. In addition, productivity apps are designed for the average user and are simple and easy to use.
What Are The Main Benefits Of Productivity Apps?
Productivity apps are designed with one basic goal in mind: to help the user finish certain tasks efficiently and quickly. Some additional benefits include:
- Productivity apps are regularly updated automatically by the provider. You don’t’ waste time installing manual updates or additional features.
- New features and improvements may also be added from time to time based on user feedback.
- Unlike traditional applications that require you to work on a desktop PC or laptop, productivity apps allow you to work on the go, where you are able to access information, email and documents via any device including your phone.
- Many apps can be customized to fit your specific needs
Common Productivity Challenges
Productivity apps help you overcome some of these common challenges:
- Crowded, overlapping schedules
- Email chaos
- Communication and information-sharing
- Re-doing work
Now, let’s jump into what you really want to learn about. Here are the seven peak productivity apps and how they can benefit you.
Chapter 2: 7 Apps That Can Supercharge Your Productivity
APP #1: Cloud Magic Newton Mail
Who it’s for: people with more than one email account. Almost everyone today has more than one email account, usually a personal account and a business account, in addition to others that fall under various business subcategories.
Jumping from one account to another to check emails can be more time-consuming than you think, especially if you need to check your emails frequently.
How it works: Cloud Magic gathers all of your emails in one place for instant access. You are able to see all of your messages in one place instead of having to switch to different inboxes.
Special features: Send Later, Read Receipts, Connected Apps, and Undo Send are some other brilliant time-saving features that make reading and replying to email less tedious and time-consuming.
The app also offers you the ability to organize your mail under different categories.
Use case: You have a 5-minute break and decide to check for any urgent emails. You simply access Cloud Magic to instantly review all the emails received from across your various accounts. You reply to anything urgent and voila, you have saved loads of time and effort!
Price: Subscription-based for $49.99/year.
Who it’s for: Anyone who has issues keeping paper notes in order, which are easily misplaced or lost – that’s basically everyone!
In today’s, digital world, dealing with paper is more of a hassle because we’re used to access so much of what we want online. This cool app will easily get your paper issues sorted by organizing your notes.
How it works: Basically, it allows you to make notes for anything and everything; phone calls you need to make, appointments you need to confirm or shopping lists. You can even make a note to yourself about where you’ve put a certain document.
Letterspace uses a web language called Markdown syntax, which preserves the form of your text. This means you can write anything from to-do lists, schedules or even paragraphs of a book or paper you are working on and the app preserves the form as it is.
Special features: There are dozens of note-taking apps similar to Letterspace. But Letterspace goes one step further by providing a nifty note-organizing function. It uses #hashtags to organize and file your notes so that you can quickly find what you need without having to scroll through the whole content.
Users are also commending the unique swipe bar that facilitates scrolling, as well as highlighting and moving around blocks of text.
There is also a feature that allows you to choose the font that appeals to you most.
Use case: You have a report due tomorrow morning. It’s finished but you just can’t remember where you put it. If you made a note to yourself on Letterspace, you could quickly pull it up. It could be under the hashtag “important docs”. The note tells you that the report is in the third right-hand drawer of your desk in a blue folder.
Price: Letterspace can be downloaded for free from the App Store with in-app purchases. The Mac version is also free. You can also download a trial version of different color schemes or buy them for $1.99 to $4.99.
Get it at: The APP Store
APP #3: Trello
Who it’s for: Trello is essentially a project-management app that makes running projects more streamlined and less stressful. It’s perfect for project and team managers – but really, it’s a great productivity tool for anybody. It can help you organize everything from team projects and party planning to Christmas shopping lists.
Trello consistently comes up in every “best productivity apps” list because of its almost unlimited organizational functions and versatility.
How it works: Each project is called a “board” in which you create lists or cards, then drag and drop them in. Trello can be integrated with other apps like Google Drive, Adobe and Slack, making sharing and collaboration a breeze.
Special features: One incredibly versatile feature is that boards can be shared with colleagues and team members via various devices. Users can edit, add cards and send messages or comments.
Users can also break up big projects into smaller tasks with cards. Cards are arranged in columns and can be moved, rearranged and edited if tasks change.
Use case: You are in charge of supervising advertising copy for an upcoming campaign. You create a Trello board with columns titled “approved ideas”, “drafts”, “more editing required” and “final copy”. The ad copy can then be moved from column to column as it progresses towards completion – keeping the whole team organized and on track.
Price: Trello is free but a premium subscription is required for additional features, starting at $9.99 per month.
Get it at: https://trello.com/
APP #4: Last Pass
Who it’s for: Everyone who uses multiple passwords. We’ve all been through the hair-pulling scenario where we’ve forgotten a password and have to go through the tedious process of resetting it. When you’re in a hurry to get something done, this can be a sanity-challenging experience. The more digital tools and accounts you have, the more of a nightmare this can be.
That’s why Last Pass is an awesome password-management app that generates new passwords and records all of your current passwords in one place.
How it works: After downloading the app and creating a master password, add all of your site and account passwords to the Last Pass vault. The app will automatically fill in the details for you every time you log in. Wow!
Special features: Last Pass has a sharing feature that allows you to securely share your passwords as well as short notes with trusted people.
The password generator creates complicated random passwords that are pretty much impossible to hack. This is a great feature. We often simplify our passwords to avoid the hassle of typing them in. But since Last Pass is going to log in for you, the longer and more complicated, the better!
Use case: You have decided to create an online banking account. Use Last Pass to generate a super-secure password and save it. This is one password you can’t afford to forget. You now have a foolproof password that you can also share securely through Last Pass with your spouse or a trusted family member.
Price: The app with basic features is free. Additional features come with paid subscriptions starting at $4 per month.
Get it at: https://www.lastpass.com/
APP #5: Scannable
Who it’s for: Anyone still using that ancient tool called a fax machine. It’s also a must-have tool for anyone whose job involves frequently sending documents and images to other parties. It’s also ideal for professionals who travel frequently.
How it works: Scannable is an amazing phone app from the producers of Evernote. This app makes high-quality scans of any paper document and allows you to export them to anywhere, wherever you are. Thank God for technology! With this app, you save loads of time by capturing and sending documents with just a few clicks.
Scannable allows you to scan any document; contracts, blueprints, charts, photos, and even architectural plans.
Special features: While normal printers, scanners and fax machines produce less than outstanding quality copies, Scannable’s unique scanning functions are designed to make sharp, high resolution scans almost identical to the original document.
Use Case: An important client wants to read a copy of a new contract before he signs. Instead of printing, scanning and sending it via email or fax, you simply use your Scannable phone app to scan the document and send it through.
You don’t even have to leave your desk – and your client will be impressed with your lightning-speed response!
Get it at: https://evernote.com/products/scannable/
Who it’s for: This is ideal for freelancers and remote workers who work from home or don’t have fixed office hours. Toggl is a cool little time tracker that anyone can use for tasks and activities that require time monitoring, or simply to increase productivity by understanding how you work.
Toggle is described as an “intuitive” time tracker that tells you how you spent your time, so to speak.
How it works: Once you have completed a task, Toggle gives you a detailed report that shows how you spent your time. You analyze the numbers and accordingly adjust the way you work so that you are more productive.
Toggl tracks your hours in real-time, allowing you to monitor your productivity daily, as well as bill for hours you have worked by creating accurate timesheets.
It can be synced with other apps and devices as well as phones.
Special features: Toggl can be used on any device; desktop computer, laptop, tablet, or phone, so that you are able to track your time wherever you are.
The most frustrating thing with most time trackers is that we often forget to turn them on or off. But Toggl has a special feature that sends you nice reminders which are really useful.
In addition, there is a great feature where you don’t even need to turn time tracking on or off. Toggl will automatically start tracking hours when you open your computer or phone.
Toggl also records any websites or programs you visit, which is great for remote workers doing research, coding and analysis.
The ability to add and delete hours manually is useful for creating accurate timesheets for billing purposes.
Use case: You are a freelance developer and want to bill your client for a project you have finished. Toggl will track your hours including all the programs you have used and create a detailed report. You review the report, edit it if needed then create a timesheet. This is sent with your bill to the client to show that you have billed them accurately.
Price: A free version with basic features is available. Premium versions with additional features start at $9 per month.
Get it at: https://toggl.com/
APP #7: Anki
Who it’s for: This is an ideal tool for students from grade school and up and is a definite productivity-booster.
How it works: In a nutshell, it allows users to create flashcards for laptops, tablets or phones to facilitate studying and brushing up for exams.
Special features: Anki uses a “speed repetition” feature to evaluate your performance and allows you only to review the cards that you missed rather than repeating all of them. This is a great time-saver that also allows you to hone in on your weak points and practice until you are perfect.
Anki also lets you add images or sound to your flashcards for easier studying and learning – a truly cool feature.
The app has a selection of over 80 million downloadable flashcards that cover hundreds of study topics.
Because it’s cloud-based, you can easily create flashcards on one device and access them for study on another.
More advanced features allow you to create custom layouts as well.
Use Case: You are on your way to an exam and need to do a quick revision. You simply access Anki on your phone, pull up your flashcards and review them.
Price: Free with in-app purchases
Get it at: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/ankiapp/
This a great selection of some of the best productivity apps out there today. There are literally hundreds of others that do everything from organizing your fitness and diet routines to organizing your social activities.
Although these seven apps are more geared towards traditional work productivity, you should have a basic idea of how they work to help you better organize and manage your time.
Chapter 3: Other Quirky Productivity Apps to Check Out
If you love gaming or are easily bored, here’s some good news for you: you can now up your efficiency with gamified productivity apps!
Gamification looks to become the latest trend in the realm of productivity apps, with more and more of them coming out almost every day. If you find traditional organization apps and to-do lists tedious and boring, a gamified app is ideal for you.
Here are three innovative and quirky apps that will add a bit of fun to your daily routine while still helping you work more productively.
This is one aptly-named app. It is truly epic. Never have to-do lists been easier and more fun to get through! This app will actually get you excited about working hard and well.
How it works: You get to play with a character that you can level up as you complete tasks on your to-do list. Your goal is to battle the evil forces of unproductivity by finishing tasks quickly and efficiently.
With each task you finish, the app announces your glorious victory with fanfare and some great graphics and sound effects.
Special features: The most appealing feature has got to be the awesome graphics and sound effects.
Smarty Pig Finance App
This is an app that helps you be more efficient in your finances. This innovative tool helps you organize and achieve your personal finance goals.
How it works: The user specifies an item that they want to save up for. This becomes the “savings goal”. The app automatically deducts an amount of money from their bank account each month and places it in the “piggy bank”.
Users can see the progress bar as they move towards having enough savings to buy the item. It’s a simple and fun way to save. You simply set your goal and forget it, letting the app manage the savings process for you.
If you are a statistics geek, this app is a must-have. Rather than gameplay, you get to interact with stats.
Doable is an engaging productivity tracker that gives you stats about your performance as you are doing a certain task, allowing you to strive harder to break your personal record.
How it works: Users input a specific goal and the tasks they need to do to complete the goal. Doable will start tracking your performance and tell you how you did on each task of the goal.
Special features: The app will help you prioritize tasks based on which ones you are late on.
This app is a dream come true for RPG addicts. It helps build good productivity habits while the user engages in fantasy world gameplay.
How it works: The user chooses and customizes one of the available “smart task lists” that are designed to enforce better working habits.
Each time you complete a task, you are rewarded with coins, points and magic items that you can use to build up your character.
Special features: You get to customize your character’s look and equip it with items you have won or bought. You also get to engage in a variety of fun quests.
The best feature is the Habits List where you get to develop small productivity habits and get rewards and benefits when you have mastered them.
Price: This computer app is free with ads. The ad-free version costs $5 per month
Let’s be honest. We can all do with a little fun when we’re working hard. If these types of apps resonate with you, google them for more details or search for other types of gamified apps.
Chapter 4: Proven Productivity Tips That Work Great with Apps
Productivity apps will make your life a lot easier but they are not miracle cures for everything. Consider the following productivity tips that along with a productivity app can really make a difference in your efficiency.
Avoid The Cold
A study conducted at Cornell University found that employees who worked in a cold environment were less productive. Simply put, when you’re cold, your productivity drops along with the temperature.
If you work at home, simply make sure the temperature is warm enough when you are doing important tasks. In an office where you have no control over the thermostat, consider a small portable heater that you can place near your desk.
Frankly, we didn’t really need a study to tell us that nobody can be very productive with icy fingers and toes!
Create A Counter intuitive Goal
Let’s say you’re a real estate agent. Simply set yourself an unrealistic goal, such as making a sale on every single lead you get this month. In the normal world, that’s near-impossible – but it can actually make you more productive!
Research has shown that counterintuitive goal-setting actually motivates your brain to achieve the goal, impossible as it may be. In the process, your brain focuses harder and tries to come up with innovative ideas to help you achieve your goal.
Amazingly, you will become more efficient, focused and productive because your brain perceives that it is helping you work towards your impossible goal.
Be Prepared For Interruptions
Interruptions and distractions are a part of life. The key is to expect them and work around them as calmly and efficiently as you can.
Creating a mini-crisis or drama will just make things more chaotic. Just work around interruptions as best you can and learn to be a little flexible.
Plants Boost Productivity
Studies have shown that people who have a green plant or two in their workspace tend to get less stressed and have better overall wellbeing. If you don’t already have a plant in your office, consider buying one to test this theory. Just make sure the plant is low-maintenance.
Our brains are not super-computers, nor does multitasking necessarily mean we are more productive. It has been scientifically proven that when we focus on one thing, we do it better – it’s just sheer common sense as well. It’s no surprise then, that studies show that multitasking actually hinders productivity.
Focusing completely on just one task at a time will ensure that you do it better and decreases the likelihood of having to repeat it. This is the case for being more productive by doing less!
Schedule “Dreaded” Tasks Early In The Day
Whatever the nature of our work, we all have those dreaded tasks that can’t be avoided. However, what many of us do is put them off as much as we can – as if they’re going to go away!
Get those tasks done and out of the way as early as possible. Ideally, they should be the first thing that you do in the morning when your energy and focus are at their peak.
Try this and see how relieved and liberated you will feel. Now, you can whizz through the rest of your day more productively rather than dragging your feet to avoid the dreaded work.
Learn To Say No
This is one of the biggest stressbusters and productivity boosters there is. Teach yourself to firmly and politely decline to take on work or engage in activities you know you don’t have time for. If you take on more than you can chew because you are too embarrassed to say no, don’t expect your productivity to be anything but mediocre – and your stress levels to soar.
In today’s world, the majority of us are digitally savvy to some degree. It makes sense to make use of what the latest technology has to offer if we want to become more productive.
Productivity apps are one of those innovative solutions – and there is one out there for every need and niche.
Short of actually doing your work for you, a productivity app can help you with almost everything else. It can organize your schedule, remind you of important meetings and events, help you manage projects, make customized to-do lists and much more. Scanning documents, sharing work and managing email has never been easier.
Consider trying some of the apps recommended in this book. Most of them are free or cost next to nothing so you’ve got nothing to lose – but so much to gain.
So, what does the future hold? More innovative, specialized and customized productivity apps. And who knows? We might actually see a productivity app that helps manage all your other productivity apps!