You’re a busy person, and you have a lot to finish in a day. Theoretically, you could accomplish pretty much everything with just pen and paper, but sometimes we need a little help from technology.
There are hundreds of productivity apps, but it is difficult to know which ones to choose. This guide will outline the best apps to keep you on track at work or school.
Disclaimer: These are all my own opinions, and I am not sponsored by any of these companies.
To-Do List Apps
Best app: Things
I have tested many to-do list apps, and Things is still my favorite. The design is elegant — you can see your calendar events and to-dos all in one place, which makes it easy to schedule tasks. My plans change all the time, but this app makes it easy to re-schedule by simply dragging and dropping. In addition, you can quickly assign due dates to tasks and create repeating to-dos. The one downside is that this app is not free, but it was definitely worth the investment.
Runner up: Todoist
Todoist is very similar to Things, so it's easy to learn and offers similar features. It also includes some fun characteristics such as weekly goals, streaks, and karma points (points you obtain every time you complete your to-do list). The best part is that most of those functions are free!
Best app: Google Calendar
There are a plethora of calendar apps, but Google does it best with this one. It's free, works across any device, and functions well for individuals and teams. You can manage multiple calendars using color coding and even set reminders for events.
Runner up: Timepage by Moleskine
Moleskine is known for their high-quality products, and this app is so effortless and aesthetically pleasing. You can use the heat map calendar to get a visual of when you are busy. In addition, the calendar integrates travel times and weather forecasts, eliminating the need to check multiple apps. However, Timepage is a membership service, so it is not free.
Project Management Apps
Best app: Notion
If you are working on large projects or are part of a team, this project management app is a lifesaver. This tool is a jack of all trades because you can use it to take notes, track habits, and even manage tasks if you want! I use it to manage everything from ideas for these articles to staying organized in school. Notion has a variety of free and paid plans.
Runner up: Trello
I love Trello because it is a visual tool to organize work, school, and/or life. You can trade in your sticky notes for digital boards because it has won awards for the best productivity app. The only reason I chose Trello as the runner up is because Notion is overall more powerful.
Note Taking Apps
Best app: Word
I know, I know, this app may seem outdated. However, Microsoft has made changes that are especially beneficial to writers and students. Word has become handy and accessible anywhere. I have used this app to collaborate on projects, outlines, and much more in school.
Runner up: Evernote
This app is a great place where you can store everything including notes (typed and handwritten), photos, web pages, audio, and more. However, Evernote has become bloated and harder to use with the multitude of features. Also, the free plan is very limited, so you may eventually need to upgrade to a premium plan.
Grammar Checking App
Best app: Grammarly
This is the best tool for checking your grammar and spelling. You can install the free browser extension, and it will automatically highlight errors while you write. It works across email, Google Docs, and so much more!
Time Tracking Apps
Best app: Forest
This app is a great tool to stay away from your phone, stay focused on your work, and track how much time you are spending on each project. You set a timer and plant a virtual tree, which will grow while you work. If you leave Forest, the tree will die. You can even collaborate with friends! The best part is that you can spend your hard-earned virtual coins on planting real trees! The company has partnered up with Trees for the Future to plant real trees, in which Forest donates and creates planing orders.
Runner up: Flora
This app is almost identical to Forest, except that it is more minimalist and it is free!
Best app: Gmail
This is already a popular email program, and for good reason. It is free, has great organization tools, and it has many keyboard shortcuts for processing emails quickly. Plus, if you use either Things or Todoist, you can turn emails into tasks.
Runner up: Newton
This app makes emails less stressful and is a modern solution. You can revisit unresolved conversations that you might have missed, focus on emails that matter, save emails to apps such as Todoist, Evernote, and/or Trello, and so much more. Nonetheless, it is important to note this is a membership service and the app charges an annual fee.
Cloud Syncing Apps
Best app: Google Drive
There are many cloud sync apps available, which may offer a lot of the same features. This is still my top pick because Google gives you 15 GB of storage for free, which is more than any of the other competitors.
Runner up: OneDrive
If you're looking for an equally powerful alternative to Google Drive, and you have a Microsoft 365 subscription, OneDrive works beautifully with other Microsoft apps.
Productivity is More Than Just Apps
Ultimately, productivity is not about finding the right app.
To be truly productive, work in the right way to develop the right habits for you. Productivity apps just make things a little bit easier. Which app are you most excited to try?
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