My Top 6 Free Productivity Apps That Have Changed My Work Life
I see about 10 new posts on productivity every day. I browse various blogs, reddit, and YouTube, and productivity is something that people just cannot wrap their heads around.
I’ve followed lots of productivity advice in my life, and I’ve had mixed results.
I’ve had periods where I’m “on fire” and I’ve had weeks where I felt like I accomplished nothing.
If you’re in a funk right now, I hope that using some of these tips will get you going again.
Instead of a generic productivity article where I tell you to “eat right, exercise, sleep enough, drink enough water, take 1 step forward, and be grateful…”
I’ll instead detail the apps that you can download today and have a tangible positive effect on your work life.
Like any app or trick or secret, it’s all about how you use the apps. Some apps won’t mesh with you, and some will boost your results. There are hundreds of options out there, these are just what have worked for me.
Leave a comment below the post if you’d like to add an app or tool that you use and love.
The Top 6 *FREE* Productivity Apps That Have Changed My Work Life
RescueTime is an activity tracking software that tracks where you are spending your time every day, and gives you a score based on metrics that it has selected for you, and that you can alter yourself.
For example, if you spend 30 minutes on YouTube and Facebook, that time will be labeled as “Very Unproductive”, where as if you spend 30 minutes in your WordPress Dashboard or in Photoshop, that will be labeled as “Very Productive.”
The result is you can see a snapshot daily of how productive you are.
It can create a game for you, as you try to beat your productivity score.
You can also create goals, such as “Be productive for at least 3 hours per day’, or whatever you wish.
It’s useful because this app is always running in the background, I don’t have to think about turning it on or off, and I see no negative effect on the speed of my computer.
A popular productivity tool is called a “Pomodoro.” This is simply a timer for 25 minutes, with a 5 minute break. The app I’m describing is “Pomodairo“.
So the way it works is you set out what you want to get done, and spend 25 minutes just working on that one thing. When the timer goes off, you take 5 minutes to stretch or surf YouTube, and you then start another focused 25 minute stretch of work.
When I have projects that feel like a mountain to climb, I set up some pomodoros and not only is it not so bad, but I also get to see how long I predicted something would take versus how long it actually took.
Pomodairo is specifically for Mac, but there is also a web version called Focus Booster, among several others. (I like Focus Booster the best for an online Pomodoro)
Toggl is closely-related to RescueTime, but it’s more about Time Sheets that you describe yourself. Where as RescueTime will just record every website you spent time at and sort it by minutes, Toggl is where you select what you are working on, click to start, and it automatically organized timesheets for you to look back on later.
This is perfect for consultants and freelancers. It’s free, which is amazing. There are costly tools that are nowhere near as user-friendly as Toggl.
I only found it recently. I was creating a spreadsheet in Google Docs and writing out my hours and what I did, and I then decided to search Google, and lo and behold, I found this new, fabulous web app.
Most people would be fine selecting either Toggle OR Rescuetime. If you prefer not to install anything on your computer, then go with Toggl. But if you want a more accurate reading of exactly where you spent your time, use RescueTime. Or you can be like me and use both!
Evernote is no secret to most, but I know there are still lots of people who aren’t using it.
Evernote is basically just a notepad that you can access anywhere. It’s stored “in the cloud.”
You can sort your notes into folders, and by tags. So if you’re collecting info for later blog posts, or planning a project of some sort, you can tag things you write or copy from the web, and place them for later viewing.
It’s also got a great search feature, and it’s incredibly user-friendly.
Most of you are probably using Evernote already, as it was awarded the top start-up by Techcrunch fairly recently. I have the evernote app and the Mac app installed on my Macbook.
I could definitely be more organized with my Evernotes, and I’m sure some people are utilizing it way better than I am.
Headspace is a very popular meditation app. I’ve always wanted to meditate, in fact I’ve had a “Beginners Guide to Meditation” collecting dust on my bookshelf for about 5 years. I could just never make myself do it. I don’t know why.
But Headspace, which I use on my iPhone, makes meditating really easy. It’s simply a guided, 10-minute meditation. It has a very sharp, clean design, and you can see how many other people are using the app while you are using it. It’s kind of cool to see that 200 other people are meditating along with you.
But more than a clean app, the reason why Headspace, or any other meditation for that matter, has made a difference in my productivity, is it calms my mind, and helps me when I’m feeling overloaded with information and projects and other stressful things.
I still don’t meditate as often as I should (daily would probably be ideal), but during the times I have, I feel a great difference in my clarity, and it helps me work better.
My favorite app of all is Lift. It is a goal setting and tracking app. There is a community element, and a game element to it. I also love tapping the big circular green “check” button when I get something done.
I have a problem of setting goals and then forgetting them. Lift makes it easy to set small goals, and attend to them daily.
It will nag you with reminders if you want it to. I get one reminder per day, via e-mail. It says something like “You’re riding a 6-day streak in “Setting my day” – and this will remind me to open up the app again and try to get as many goal-related tasks done for the day.
So far it’s helping me remember to set my priorities for the following day, do pushups, meditate, drink more water, read a motivational quote, take my vitamins, write, and more.
I use it on my iPhone mainly, but I also view my goals and progress on the Lift website.
Lift is my top recommendation, I highly recommend it, and if you use it, we can follow each other on the app, I’m “Simon G.”