02 September 2014
Whatever your profession, productivity is key to a balanced life. The more productive you are, the more you get done in less time; and the more time you will have for family, friends and ‘me’ time.
Productivity is a discipline you can master with time management, being organized, keeping a to-do list and focusing on your tasks - one task at a time. And if you have a smartphone, you’re in luck. There are hundreds of apps you can use to boost your productivity in life. Let your phone take care of you while you worry about your tasks at hand.
Here are 3 apps we use everyday to boost our productivity.
Evernote is a simple way to create notes and store them away on the cloud for the future. It syncs your notes across all of your devices. You can also organise your notes in notebooks (similar to folders). You can then use the search feature Evernote provides to go back to your notes.
I use Evernote for everything worth noting. Maybe that’s why it’s called Evernote? (hmm..) I use it to keep a journal of problems I resolved in the past, to keep track of progress made in business meetings, to keep track of work done, store business cards (the mobile version has a feature just for that), keep receipts and warranty documents, recipes, course notes, and more.
Evernote is available everywhere. It’s on the iPhone, Android, Windows, Mac and a web-version as well.
It’s mainly a free service. You only need to pay something if you plan to upload a ton of documents monthly. The limit is of 100MB monthly (most probably more than enough). The premium version costs €5 per month. And it comes with other features such as collaboration with friends or coworkers. You can edit the same notes as a team and get smarter searches where Evernote starts searching into the documents as well, not just notes.
This app is mainly a timer. But it’s not just a timer. It’s a timer that uses the Pomodoro concept. This is a highly productive technique to get lots of work done in as little time as possible. A Pomodoro is a session of 25 minutes of intensive work (preferably no distractions at all, of course), and a 5 minute break. Make 10 of these Pomodoros and you would have completed 5 productive hours. If your work is mainly on a computer, I suggest getting up and walk around a little during those 5 minute breaks. It’s healthy and helps you to refresh your mind.
The app is well designed and makes Pomodoro timers easy for you. Just start the timer and it will automatically switch between the 25-minute and 5-minute timers. So all you have to do is work hard. Don’t even look at the time. Just make sure to keep the volume of your phone up. You will then get a report of how many Pomodoros you have completed. The only issue I had with DropTime is the tune of the timer. It’s a song that I don’t quite like and you can’t really change it. If only I could change that tune… But that’s just a personal preference.
DropTime is a free app with an in-app purchase to remove adverts. This one is available on iPhone. But there are hundreds of apps to help you utilize this service. Another one which I was trying out lately is Pomodrone which also looks nice and has a good tune. An in-app purchase on this one unlocks colours and reports. Yep; colours are important when you look at this timer everyday - I bought it…. On Android there is ClearFocus which is free and worth trying out.
In my opinion, making a to-do list is the first step to a productive life. Making deadlines is the second step. There are hundreds of apps to keep a to-do list. Even the phone itself comes with reminders and to-do list apps built-in. Nowadays, the apps even remind you of things to do when you arrive or leave a location. And they are very simple to use.
Issues might arise when you have some complex projects to manage. Project management is a different story. And there are many ways to manage projects. Let’s say ‘Agile Development’ which is very popular in the app development world; that’s complex. And a simple reminders app might not cut it, especially in teams.
There are a lot of good services to help keep to-do lists in projects and manage them. However, knowing our culture, we kept looking for the simplest and most attractive service which also has an awesome app. Asana did just that.
One could create as many projects as needed. Each project could also be shared with your team. Then you can start assigning tasks, set deadlines and tags such as ‘To-Do’, ‘To-Test’ and ‘Important’. You can also comment and collaborate with the team, as well as adding documents to the task.
In my opinion, one great feature that Asana has which others lacked, is your own personal summary. In the home screen, you will be presented with things that only you have to do so you can focus only on your tasks. You will then have the ability to group your to-do list in tasks to deal with today, later or upcoming, so you could keep an eye out for them.
Pretty robust and full of features, right? Yet Asana still managed to keep all of these features in a very simple interface; and it still looks good doing it too. So that’s less time figuring out how the app works, and more time getting things done.
Asana syncs all your projects and to-do lists with all your devices; and pretty much like Evernote, it is available everywhere and for free. It’s on iPhone, iPad and Android as well as a web-based version. If only there was a Mac version. That would be nice to have while working.
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