Productivity. Self-optimization. Workflow. Work smarter, not harder. You have the same hours in the day as Beyoncé. Get shit done. New year, new you.
We’ve all heard the big buzzwords and sayings of recent years, as we move towards a culture primed for making us more connected and more productive. From the outset of a new year (especially after the atrociousness of last year), all your aspirations refresh, and your sense of motivation can be hugely revitalised from a holiday break.
While you’re still running on the glorious fuel of Christmas mince pies and extra vitamin D from beach days, it can be a great time to reinvent the wheel on your routines. If you have some lofty goals for the year ahead, you’re going to need all the help you can get from technology.
The hard truth is that an app alone isn’t going to make you more productive, you need to get yourself organized first in order to make the most of these tools. But integrating the right tools at the right time (and staying consistent!) might really help you move the needle toward your goals.
Here’s some great apps on offer:
Toodledo combines the power of to-do lists, long notes, custom lists, outlines and habit trackers to help you move towards your goals. The habit tracker can be adapted to record checkboxes, numbered data or star ratings depending on what habit you’re tracking. With the task lists, you can assign priorities, due dates and extra context to each item to keep everything in an organized fashion.
Way of Life –
Way of Life is a little simpler and touch more user-friendly for getting started on building habits. The app uses a colour coding system, meaning when you go to log your habits off, it would be a quick process. The app will then chart your progress so you can see trends forming within your habits or notice drop-offs in your behaviour.
Fabulous is an app more centred around wellbeing and finding your ultimate daily routine. The app also offers more suggestions and ideas to include in your routine to help take the pressure off. Fabulous uses a more behavioural science approach, developed by a team from Duke University, to help people make smart changes.
For each habit or routine you want to develop, once you’ve set it in the app, an gentle alarm triggers as your reminder. The image, the music and the alarms are all very relaxing and conducive to enjoying your habit-building journey.
Any.do is a minimalist app that helps to organize your tasks, lists and reminders in a shareable format that syncs across your devices. The app also has a daily planner where you can reschedule, delete completed tasks or mark as done. There is a smart list capability for things like grocery lists that you can share with others and remembers your recent items as suggestions.
Todoist has a great tagline to ‘free up your mental space.’ All those things your trying to remember to do later could be using up the great free-thinking space in your brain! Todoist is a very intuitive app, with reoccurring due dates, folders to segment task lists, the ability to apply ‘favourites’ or ‘priorities’ to tasks. The app also includes productivity visualizations so you can view your progress on daily or weekly terms.
With the wealth of content streaming under our eyes everyday, it can feel like a missed opportunity or just plain overwhelming to read everything that might be interesting when you happen upon it. Pocket allows you to essentially ‘bookmark’ content into the app for reading later. Bill Gates always says he dedicates at least an hour at a time for ‘deep reading’ so that you can better absorb information. If it’s good enough for Bill…
Evernote has been the pinnacle of ‘note-taking’ apps for some time now. They’ve really broadened the apps capabilities. With Evernote, you can now sync notes across your device, add images, scans and PDFs to your notes and format in new ways.
If you are more of a digital pen fan, you can write into the notes and still use search tools to find something you’ve handwritten. The app also has a full library of templates for you to get started on, which is a great resource for organizing your life or work.
Google Sheets –
If you really need more of a spreadsheet vibe to organize yourself – Google Sheets is definitely the answer. Google Sheets offers built-in formulas, pivot tables and formatting options to save time and solve common spreadsheet problems.
Engross is an app based on the ‘Pomodoro-technique’ which was a system created to help create sessions of stronger “focused-work” with intermittent breaks. The original system is based on a 25 minute timer, working until the timer rings, take a short 5 minute break until every fourth pomodoros (focus period) in which you take a longer break of 20-30 minutes.
The Engross app has an encouraging Pomodoro timer and to-list functionality while also helping to determine when you’re distracted so you can adjust your daily schedule around best work times.
Freedom is a distraction blocker that stops your access to apps or websites during periods of focused work. Once you start a session, your distractions are blocked everywhere and there is also a “lockdown mode” which means you won’t be able to edit your blocklists while a session is active. We all have good intentions for working but sometimes, the ping of a notification can set you sideways.
Habitica uses an out-of-the-box method for productivity of “gamify your life.” The app makes your tasks like a game that you have to achieve – so that you can try and have fun while you get things done! After inputting all your tasks or habits to check off, you create a custom avatar.
For every task or habit you check off, your avatar unlocks new features and reaches a new level of the game. You can even receive in-game rewards like treating yourself to an episode of your favourite TV show.
Important: This content has been prepared without taking account of the objectives, financial situation or needs of any particular individual. It does not constitute formal advice. Consider the appropriateness of the information in regard to your circumstances.