By Ritika Tiwari.
We all need help sometimes, and there is nothing wrong with admitting that we have a problem: I am Ritika, and I am a social media addict. Every time I see a viral post, I can’t help myself from reading all about it. No matter how close I am to a deadline.
Of course, this leads to lower productivity and I have to spend more time doing the same work. Lucky for people like us there are productivity apps which can help keep us in check and help us be more focused and efficient, on top of helping us to run a small business.
To help those of us that have a procrastination problem, we’ve compiled a list of five apps that keep you productive.
Why use productivity apps?
For many of us, our work takes place online and we sit in front of our laptops all day taking care of business. While we might tell ourselves that we are working for as long as our laptop is open, honesty compels us to say that this isn’t really true most of the time.
Maybe it’s an email from an old college friend or an interesting article on a media site; there are so many distractions that we can’t even keep track of the time we actually spend working.
Productivity apps come in various shapes and sizes; they can help us stay organized and, in turn, increase our efficiency. From organizing our calendar to tracking time and stopping you from visiting certain websites, these apps can help you focus more on work by automating many of the time-consuming processes.
Here are some of the reasons why you should consider using productivity apps.
If you have a number of meetings or deadlines every day, then signing up for a digital calendar is the best way to go to always stay updated on your schedule and set group meetings online.
For instance, Google Calendar allows you to create an event and invite other users as well. So when others accept the event, it is updated in their calendar too, thus avoiding any conflicts.
Get Away from Distractions
Social media is fun and it also helps us create our own personal brand, but still, too much of anything is dangerous. If you see yourself checking Facebook or Instagram every hour then maybe it’s time to make some changes.
Timewarp, a Chrome extension, can help you with that by redirecting the web browser every time you try to visit an addictive website.
Track Your Time
If you are a small business owner or freelancer, you might already know how important it is to track your time yourself. It doesn’t just help you bill your clients, but it can also help you see where you are spending most of your time.
For instance, Toggl is a time tracking app which also creates daily, weekly and monthly reports easily.
Keep All Your Notes in One Place
We live in a world where we use several devices together, but we still want to access the same data and that is where cloud apps step in to help us out. There was a time when we used Sticky Notes on Windows excessively; they might have been useful, but only when you had your PC open.
Now, we have productivity apps that allow you to add notes with files and checklist. They also allow you to set a reminder for certain tasks, making it easy for you to always stay on track.
For instance, Evernote is a cloud-based note taking app which syncs all the notes to its server so that you can easily access your notes whether you are using your laptop, mobile or tablet.
Add Things to Your ‘Read Later’ List
If you are reading this article when you were supposed to be working, then here is a great win-win idea for you – Download a “read it later” app like Pocket and add the article to your list. This way, you can read the article more carefully when you are finally free.
5 Apps That Keep You Productive
Let’s take a better look at the apps I’ve mentioned.
Whether you want to track your time or your team’s, the hardest part of that is to remember to start your timer. Luckily, there are apps like Toggl which make time-tracking incredibly easy.
All you have to do is, type the current task in Toggl and hit enter to start the time. If you forget to start the timer, you can also add a time entry manually. If you are out, you can track time on the go by installing Toggl on your iOS or Android phone.
Toggl’s web interface might take some time for you to get used to but its Chrome extension is the one that will leave you impressed.
After installing Toggl in your browser, you will find a “start timer” button inside the apps that you use, and you won’t even have to open Toggl’s web app to do anything.
All time sheet entries can be organized by projects and billable or non-billable hours. Color coding makes it easy to analyze everything in a single go. Toggl dashboards can also be helpful for small teams to directly submit their timesheets and recognize who was the most productive.
With a freemium version, Toggl is a great choice for both freelancers and SMBs.
If you find yourself checking Twitter or YouTube every five minutes even when you are buried deeply in work, then Timewarp is the perfect Chrome extension to keep you on track.
Easy to install and even easier to set up, Timewarp allows you to create a “new wormhole” for every website that you find distracting.
For every domain that you add, you can:
- Redirect it to a different URL like Wikipedia or a Google Drive file you might be working on
- Put a timer on the web page to keep a check on the time you are spending on that website
- Add a quote which you will see every time you try to open that website (this one is my personal favorite)
The tool is free, but that also means that it has rather limited features. For instance, you can only add a website domain and not a web page. If you do try to enter a web page URL, you will be shown an error. I also wish there was a timer to block certain websites for a specific period of time.
One other downside is that Timewarp only works with Google Chrome and there is no support for any other web browser.
With over 200 million users and 5 billion notes created, Evernote is one of the top note-taking apps in the market right now and that is not because of luck. It’s because Evernote has revolutionized the way people take notes by providing a cloud-based service packed with features.
Any note created on Evernote is quickly synced online and you can access it from any of your devices including iOS, Android, Mac, Windows and Linux.
Since Evernote comes equipped with OCR, you can easily take pictures of receipts and important documents and convert them into a text-searchable format. Of course, you can upload document files and audio recordings as well, but the best part of Evernote has to be its browser extension.
Supported by both Chrome and Firefox, Evernote’s browser extension can clip web pages as a complete article, simplified text, full page, bookmark or screenshot.
Also, Evernote does not have a storage limit, but an upload limit which means you will never have to delete anything from your Evernote account to make space. Also, upload limit only counts towards web page clippings and other files; it does not count towards the notes directly created in Evernote.
If you have been struggling to keep track of meetings and deadlines, then it’s high time you got yourself a digital calendar. Yes, there was a time when people used diaries to keep up with their everyday schedule and appointments, but with most of our work online it only makes sense to have a calendar online as well.
Google calendar is a preferred choice of many (including me) because of its easy integration with most of the other team software and project management apps including Trello, Asana, Outlook and iCal. By using apps like IFTTT and Zapier, it can be integrated with more apps too.
Also, if you already use Gmail as your primary work email account then using it makes more sense since you can automatically add appointments from the email to the calendar and create group meetings by inviting other users.
Efficient color coding, easy export and import, and custom notifications on the phone and email are some of the many reasons that make Google Calendar a life saver.
The internet is a very distracting place; there is so much content been thrown at us every second that we don’t even have enough time to read it all.
Pocket helps you pin all those articles together and lets you read them later. The app also goes out of its way to make the articles easy to read by removing any distracting sidebar data.
But how is that different from bookmarking? Well, when you bookmark something, it stays on the top of your browser even when you have read the article and you have to delete it explicitly. On the other hand, articles on Pockets can be instantly archived after they have been read.
When you connect your email, Facebook, and Twitter, you can follow your contacts who are also on Pocket and see all the links shared by them under the “recommended” tab.
So, the next time you see a really interesting article while you are working, just hit the Pocket button and read it later, whenever you have time.
The right productivity app will depend on your work environment and the industry you work in. While there are numerous productivity apps available online, some of them will end up wasting your time instead of saving.
It’s important that you test an app thoroughly and make sure it doesn’t have a very long learning curve. Once you do find an app that helps you stay more productive, we recommend sticking to it and not looking back.