Okay, so maybe the productivity apps I’m about to discuss aren’t the only ones that work. But, they do prove more beneficial than the others I’ve tried, which is why I’m about to sing their praises.
Smartphones are a wonderful thing. While I won’t go as far as stating that they’re up there with the printing press in terms of lifechanging inventions, they do come pretty close. Mine features several cracks I intended to fix months ago. Despite that, it’s still the virtual portal that allows me to connect with friends around the world, a source of last minute recipe advice, and an embarrassing collection of photos from the last few years.
As any other smartphone owner likely knows, how you use yours can make or break your working efforts. Social media rabbit holes are a very real thing. Terrifying statistics from Social Media Today predict that we spend two-hours per day on average perusing the contents of sites such as Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter. Around 60-percent of that usage comes from mobile phones.
While your phone has the potential to act as a foe to your work goals, it’s possible to make it a friend as well. The secret to your success (and mine) lies with productivity apps. Rather than filling your home screen with bright decorative logos that go untouched, give the following marvels a try:
Sure, the name is lacking in inspiration. But you don’t need a name that makes you pause for thought when the productivity app you’re downloading has such a positive effect on your life.
Productivity, like many apps, comes with a free and paid-for version. All of the foundations you would expect from a truly excellent productivity app are present. Namely, a calendar and a chance to create a to-do list.
One of the more pleasant perks that accompanies the premium version is a feature that allows you to start and finish each day the right way. For example, as part of your morning routine you will:
- List what you’re thankful for
- Write down new ideas
- Create pertinent questions for the day
- Add your first ‘to-do’ to your list
- Write down what’s important for the day ahead
When you start the day with gratitude you’re automatically exposing yourself to a positive mindset that helps prep you for the challenges ahead. Generating new ideas forces you to shift the way you’ll approach everyday tasks. I like to see the last section (detailing what’s important for the day ahead) as an opportunity to create the day’s theme. For example, earning more money, learning new skills, passing an exam, or spending time with friends.
You then have the chance to generate your to-do list, adding more items as ideas pop into your head. As you round your efforts up in the evening, Productivity encourages you to think about what energised you, what your accomplishments were, and whether you learned anything.
Making such reflections conveys plenty of benefits, especially when you’re in an anxiety spiral where you feel everything is getting the better of you. Being able to document it within the confines of an app is an excellent way to look back and see just how amazing you were at handling ordinary AND difficult days.
My Water Balance
I don’t care which industry you work in, the chances that you’re consuming enough water are quite slim. Initially, I tried to conquer this with the use of a motivational water bottle. I could take large sips of water as my day hurtled towards 12pm, refill to work towards my 6pm target, and then reassure myself that I was adequately hydrated.
While the bottle did prove effective, it’s a little rudimentary. The app takes things a step further by recommending your water intake based on your weight and activity levels. It’ll also make little tweaks based on what you’re drinking, such as carbonated water vs flat.
How does this invention fall into the productivity apps category? Topping yourself up with a refreshing beverage is a reliable way to kick your brain into gear and enhance focus. Your responses to tasks and stressful situations sharpen. So, as a copywriter, if I receive a borderline-ridiculous request that is so demanding it feels as though my client is invoking the spirit of Henry VIII, great hydration will work towards shaping my calm response.
I am sure Evernote features on many a productivity apps list. It’s a little like a classic cocktail, though. Its popularity will never wane, much like that of a French 75 or a Long Island Iced Tea.
When it comes to virtual notepads, few will deliver the goods as well as Evernote. You can package everything into neat individual notebooks. For example, mine tend to include:
- Personal development
The scope for using this productivity app to make life a lot less chaotic is quite significant. Aside from producing everyday notes and checklists, you can sneak screenshots into your notes, doodle, make tick box lists, and even insert voice notes.
Whether you use Evernote to seamlessly execute productivity or as a messy repository of ideas, it’s an excellent tool if you’re an overworked freelancer. As a copywriter in Wales, I tend to write about the same keywords repeatedly for the same clients. Using Evernote, I can write down my headline titles and subjects, before adding the keyword in alongside it in brackets. If I do come across a familiar keyword, I’ll search Evernote to see how I’ve used it before. Doing this allows me to avoid repetition, which generally keeps those who pay me to blog frequently happy.
This is one that my eternally organised partner encouraged me to use. I say eternally organised in a slightly bitter tone, as he manages to rise at least an hour before the sun and the birds before heading off to exercise. I’m quite far from reaching that stage. How do I know I’m quite far? Well, because as I sit tapping away with the 10 minutes I allocate to my blog writing each day, I am already considering a quick nap. It’s 7.12am, and I have been awake for 40 minutes.
It’s possibly worth accepting that I am in the night owl camp for the time being.
Anyway. Plant is a productivity app that allows you to set a timer with a view to growing a cute little plant. If you pick up your phone and start using it before your timer is done, the app will burst to the forefront of your screen and angrily let you know that you shouldn’t be ‘phubbing.’
If you ignore Plant’s phubbing warning, your plant will die. On the other hand, adhering to the concentration timer allows you to add a new plant to your garden. It’s sort of satisfying getting to the end of the day and seeing that you’ve managed 340 minutes of productivity where you didn’t touch your phone at all, as well as a blossoming garden brimming with (virtual) plants. And, as you may have guessed, seeing the dead duds is sort of heartbreaking.
There you have it. Three winning productivity apps. Some of which seem left field, some that make perfect sense. If there’s one you routinely rely on, feel free to share it. Just don’t forget to include why it’s useful.