Posted Jan 6, 2016

15 Productivity Apps That Will Make Your Life Easier

When life gets busy, the busy get living. That’s not a phrase, but it should be: As someone who frequently over schedules herself, I know firsthand that getting stuff done makes you feel like a superhero.

15 Productivity Apps That Will Make Your Life Easier

However, chronically jam-packing your schedule does come with the risk that something will fall under the radar. Here are 15 productivity apps you can use to make sure you’re staying on top of it all:

Time Management

15 Productivity Apps That Will Make Your Life Easier - Time Management

Workflow: One of the easiest ways to stay productive is to do less work. That’s where Workflow comes in. You create series of actions you want your phone to perform under certain conditions. For example, you can set it to request an Uber car based on the time and location of events in your calendar. It’s pretty cool, and lets you dedicate your time to more complicated tasks.

30/30: This app helps you stay on task by setting a timer to regulate when you’re on and off task. The idea is that you work and take a break in 30-minute cycles–half an hour on, half an hour off–until your task is done. You can adjust the times–if 30/30 doesn’t work for you, you can set it to whatever does. It simply lets you know when to work and when to let your mind wander.

OmniFocus: This app is pricey, but if you’re looking for an all-encompassing option that will help you get everything done, you can’t go wrong with OmniFocus. You can keep literally your entire life in OmniFocus, and it will help you sort out what needs to be done and when. You create categories–depending on the categories you come up with, you can have anything from tasks for work to trimming your cat’s claws organized here.

Note-Taking

15 Productivity Apps That Will Make Your Life Easier - Note Taking

Letterspace: If you’re a frequent tweeter, you’ll love Letterspace. This is a simple, intuitive note-taking app that lets you organize notes based on hashtags. Now you can put your impulse to tag everything to good use: #productivity.

Day One: I’ve always wished I was the kind of person who regularly used a journal. It’s such a romantic way to reflect on life, but for some reason, I’ve never been able to stick to writing in a big, blank notebook. Day One is like a journal for people who are terrible at journaling. It’s designed with quick notes in mind (although you could certainly type out a long entry if you’d like), and it lets you attach a picture to go along with each entry. It even records the date, time, location, and weather of when you made the entry. Then it loads all the info on the cloud so it’s not taking up valuable memory space.

Evernote: Evernote is like the granddaddy of all note-taking apps, and it has earned its reputation. The great thing about Evernote is that any note you add on one device can be accessed on all devices–anything that reaches the Internet will be saved on your Evernote. This means you can draft an impassioned argument on the train full of all of the reasons your grandparents should get high-speed Internet, and then use their dial-up connection to reach your notes once you’ve actually arrived at your grandparent’s house.

Calendars

15 Productivity Apps That Will Make Your Life Easier - Calendars

Agenda: If you’re looking for a basic calendar app that has just a touch more functionality than your phone’s existing calendar, Agenda is the app for you. It’s super straightforward, and it can sync with all of your other calendars so everything is in one place. It’s nothing to write home about looks-wise, but it gets the job done.

QuickCal: This app comes in first place for ease of use because it runs on natural language input. This means it’s way simpler to add items to your calendar. There’s no tedious “add event” process–you can simply write in the event the way you might jot it down on a notepad. “Jogging tomorrow at 6 a.m.” is all you need for QuickCal to schedule your workout.

Sunrise: Sunrise is the calendar app I have on my phone, and full disclosure, I’m totally hooked. Like Agenda, it syncs to all of your other calendars, so everything you need is in one place. Unlike Agenda, this app is beautiful. I’m talking absolutely stunning. And although it doesn’t have all the functionality that more comprehensive apps have, it does everything I could ask for in a calendar. If you have a complicated schedule or you don’t want to spend a hunk of your calendar time oohing and aahing at how pretty the app is, you might want to skip this one. Otherwise, Sunrise gets my personal vote as one of the best productivity apps around.

To-Do Lists

15 Productivity Apps That Will Make Your Life Easier - To Do Lists

Todoist: You can use this app on your phone, tablet, computer–you name it!. Like Evernote, anything that reaches the Internet can reach Todoist. Its whole design is based around being as simple and distraction-free as possible, so you can see what you need to do and get it done. You can also schedule tasks to repeat on a certain schedule, and quickly delay tasks to show up on a different date. The app also has a natural language function, so “Pay bill tomorrow” is all the information you need to put in–the app does the rest. It also has a “karma” system that lets you track and understand your own productivity.

Any.do: Any.do is pretty similar to Todoist, but there are a few important differences. Any.do does not have the natural language input or karma system. Instead, it has action shortcuts and file uploads. Basically, if you’re really interested in seeing your patterns of productivity, and you’re confident you’d actually use that information, go with Todoist. If that doesn’t seem like something worth your time, Any.do is probably a better bet.

Clear: If you prefer simplicity over extra bells and whistles, clear is the to-do list for you. It’s sort of the Sunrise of the list category–it’s straightforward, easy to use, and very pretty. List items are decorated in gradient color schemes, and you can have multiple lists that cover different categories. Again, this isn’t the best choice for people with complicated or collaborative tasks, but it will work just fine for someone who needs a basic list app.

Current Events

15 Productivity Apps That Will Make Your Life Easier - Current Events

Feedly: If you’ve ever used a Rich Site Summary (RSS) feed, you’re already familiar with the basic concept of Feedly. Here’s a quick rundown for the RSS newbies out there: Different websites can share part or all of their content in the RSS format. RSS feeds gather that content and present it to you. This app takes that a step further by formatting the content into a digital flip book. Basically, it’s a personalized magazine you can read on your phone–any website that has an RSS feed can be included in this app.

Paper: Using Paper will make each trip to Facebook just a tad more productive. It’s a Facebook-viewing app that presents the posts from your friends and liked pages as “stories.” On the Facebook side, it’s just a slightly different social media experience. However, it brings an extra touch–in addition to Facebook, you can add different news categories, and the app will populate those categories with relevant online articles. This means once you’re finished checking out the photos from last weekend, you can swipe left and learn about what’s going on in Congress.

Pocket: Sometimes you come across a post online you want to read, but you don’t have time in the moment. That’s where Pocket comes in. When you see such an article, you put the page in your “Pocket”. It’s then saved on your phone, tablet and Web browser so you can easily get back to it later. You don’t even need a Web connection–Pocket actually captures the page’s content so it can be accessed offline.

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15 Productivity Apps

Michelle Brandstetter

About

Michelle Brandstetter graduated from the University of Cincinnati with a degree in Journalism. She enjoys cat gifs, photography, and thinking about jogging. Her true calling in life is to pet as many wild animals as she (safely) can: So far she's touched lemurs, manatees, and bears, and has tentative plans to play with penguins.

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