We live in strange times—along with a quickly growing industry of mindfulness apps designed to help us do less, we’re using all sorts of productivity apps designed to help us do more.
If you’re in digital work, you’ve probably tried out some form of productivity software. What is productivity software? Productivity tools cover a range from simple to-do lists to productivity tracker tools that measure how much you get done on a given day.
When thinking about apps that’ll work well for you, remember that the best organization apps or best reminder apps are only the “best” if they help you, in your specific case, to do the right work in a way that consistently works well for you.
In short, the best productivity apps are tools that help you effectively get sh*t done.
How To Be Effective & Productive
Too often, we focus on productivity as a question of volume: how much am I making, and how quickly? To truly do impactful work, we have to reposition our thoughts on productivity: it’s actually about making better use of your time.
How do you make better use of your time?
First, we have to work out the most productive ways we can use our time. Stop and ask yourself:
- What’s the impact of me not doing this seemingly urgent thing right now? (Because that urgent thing is actually probably not that important!)
- What are my highest value activities?
- What can I (and only I) do that, if done well, will make a real difference?
A good way to answer these questions is by using a priority matrix to map out tasks according to their level of urgency and importance. I like to use the matrix below, based on the Eisenhower Matrix:
Eisenhower Matrix Explanation
A simple breakdown of this chart tell us how to approach a task:
Priority #1: It’s urgent and important. Do it.
Priority #2: It’s not urgent but still important. Decide on any points that are blocking the task from moving forward. Decide on the ideal time, person, and method to carry out the task.
Priority #3: It’s urgent but not important. Delegate it to the appropriate person so you can focus on important tasks.
Priority #4: It’s not urgent and also not important, it’s 4th priority. Delete it.
At the end of each day, spend 10 minutes planning out what your day will look like tomorrow—what will you do, decide, delegate, and delete?
Then, have a look at these productivity apps. I’ve chosen ones that can help you carry out the important work of being effective with your time by automating, tracking, syncing, and reminding—leaving you with more time to do the work that matters most!
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18 Of The Best Productivity Apps (Including Free Alternatives)
The following productivity apps can help you complete a wide range of tasks. As you browse, look for productivity software that automates tasks or records important data so you can offload these mental burdens and free up time for effective, impactful work.
Priority #1: It’s urgent and important. Do it.
- Taskful – https://taskful.com
- Things 3 – https://culturedcode.com/things/
- Quip – https://quip.com/
- Focus Booster – https://www.focusboosterapp.com
- Remember The Milk – https://www.rememberthemilk.com/
Priority #2: It’s Not Urgent But Still Important. Decide on it.
- Wunderlist – https://www.wunderlist.com/
- Todoist – https://todoist.com
- Trello – https://trello.com/
- Asana – https://asana.com/
- Omni Focus – https://www.omnigroup.com/omnifocus/
Priority #3: It’s Urgent But Not Important. Delegate It.
- IFTTT – https://ifttt.com/
- Zapier – https://zapier.com/
- Slack – https://slack.com/
- Missinglettr – https://missinglettr.com/
- Buffer – https://buffer.com/
- QuuuPromote – https://www.quuupromote.co/
- Upflow – https://upflow.co/
Priority #4: It’s Not Urgent And Also Not Important. Delete it!
- Just Say No – http://www.justsayno.com/
Priority #1: It’s Urgent And Important. Do it.
Your top tasks need the “do it now” rule. Along the same lines, if you see a task that’ll take less than 2 minutes to do, just get it done right away (Why? Because it’ll take more time to put it on your to-do list and then schedule and prioritize it).
Starting a high-priority task and persisting with that task until it is 100% complete is the true test of your character. It’s not easy, but it’s how you’re going to be productive. This takes self-discipline, but we can make it easier on ourselves with a few productivity tools.
Taskful – https://taskful.com/
Taskful has been rated as one of the best productivity apps for Android and ranks high among Mac productivity apps for simple, intuitive design. Unlike some apps, Taskful offers a to-do list feature that’s more representative of real life, with tasks that are completed with a series of checkmarks as opposed to a choice between just “not done” and “done”. It’s a simple, straightforward tool—if you’re looking for a well-designed version of your traditional to-do list that’s not bogged down with extra features, this is a top choice.
Taskful integrations are minimal for now, integrating only with the Health app to sync with workout data.
Taskful costs from $4.99/month and is available for Android and iOS.