Our smartphones and tablets can be a huge source of distraction, but they can also be incredibly useful. I have put together a list of apps I use on a regularly basis to help me stay productive.
One of the productivity strategies I use is setting timers to stay on task. There are all sorts of timer apps available, but why make life complicated. I simply use the built-in clock app on my iphone, it has a countdown timer and a stopwatch and that’s really all I need.
If you use the Pomodoro technique (25 minutes on task, 5 minutes break), there’s a timer for that called Flat Tomato. It saves you setting up the 25 and 5 minutes so you don’t lose any time. In addition, it tracks how many “Pomodoro’s” (25+5) do you in a day. Quite good really.
Other than that, I’m mostly paper based – I use a bullet journal to organise my to-dos. But here are some apps I have found useful for managing larger projects, and setting up my work flow with clients. There is a certain amount of overlap between them and you might be fine to use only one of them, but for me they do different things well.
You can set up different boards that contain categories called cards which hold your tasks or notes. Tasks can be subdivided into checklists, which is helpful if there are a few steps to a task. You can see progress on your tasks by checking off each step.
In the past I have also used Trello as a to-do list manager. You can use the cards to divide your tasks either by context (as in David Allen’s Getting Things Done method) or by weekly and monthly tasks. It’s easy to move tasks around between cards, so you could create a Done card for all the things you have finished.
Meistertask works in a similar way as Trello. You set up boards, cards and tasks but the functionality is slightly different. It has a different look and feel to it, and the way you can personalise it also varies. It’s still easy to see progress on your projects and move tasks around.
I use Meistertask to set up programmes I’ve signed up for so that I can see the progress in working through them.
In addition, I have used it to set up my workflow when working with coaching clients, from onboarding, invoicing through training all the way to asking for a testimonial at the end. Setting up the workflow like this ensures that I don’t miss any steps.
Asana is a tool I have only started using recently and it’s quickly growing on me. It’s yet another project management tool and I’m using it to keep track of my annual goals and my progress towards them.
It’s becoming even more useful now that I’ve integrated it with Instagantt, a Gantt-chart creation tool, which is just a joy to use.
All 3 of them are free to use at their basic level which will be enough for most small businesses. Again all 3 can be integrated with other apps but I haven’t played with that functionality so can’t give any feedback on that.
How do these apps help with productivity?
The key to success with any or all of these apps is how you use them. They can easily turn into a tool for procrastination if all you do is set them up and spend your time moving things around. Of course, they need a bit of time setting up but after that you need to be in and out pretty fast, check things off and move onto your next task.
They can motivate you by showing you how far you have come, which will spur you on to do more. They’re also a good place to capture what you need to do to keep you on track with workflow. This means you don’t need to waste time trying to figure out what you need to do next.
Can you recommend any productivity apps?
Are there any apps you use to improve your productivity? Why not share them in the comments? I’m always looking out for useful tools to use and also to recommend to others. Thank you in advance for sharing! 😊