Being productive is hard. There are so many things to distract you. Whether it’s something on the TV, or checking your Facebook and Instagram, or just spending half an hour reading through headlines – the world is jam-packed full of distractions.
Our phones are often the root of our procrastination these days. Let’s face it, we all start some work, then go to check something on our phone, then end up scrolling on it for 20 minutes, completely forgetting what it was that we originally picked it up for. It’s a common occurrence, and it takes away precious time that you could have spent doing some work.
But this doesn’t have to be how it is. There are plenty of apps that you can download which will help you to be more productive. Some phones now even allow you to disable all functions for a set period of time, forcing you not to look at it and get on with something more important.
Best apps for productivity
It’s one of the most common things that people search on Google: “How to be more productive”. It’s like everyone is searching for some magical answer that a few hyper-productive millionaires are aware of and that everyone else is being locked out from.
The reality is that to be productive, you have to exercise some willpower, and this can take a fair bit of practice. That being said, there are some apps that you can download to give you a head start in the right direction.
This is one of our favorite apps right now. The Google Play Store ranked it the Best App of the Year 2015-2016, and it remains the most popular app for productivity. The idea behind it is genius. You start a task, and you open the app and set an amount of time that you want to work for. Next, you simply start the timer and a tree will start to grow. If you use any other app then the tree will die. The longer you leave your phone alone for, the bigger the tree will get, until it’s a fully grown adult tree.
The more trees that you grow, the more coins you receive. If you spend those coins, then Forest donates money to their partner, Trees for the Future, and they plant real trees! It’s a great way to help out the environment and do something good while being productive. You can spend your coins on new tree species and other neat things within the app.
What’s so great about Forest is that it encourages users to take responsibility of their own phone usage and doesn’t force them not to get distracted. It becomes your own choice to put your phone down. If you use your phone, that massive tree will die. When you unlock your phone, the app will give you a message to put the thing down and carry on working.
You can, of course, subscribe to the pro version, where you can make a whitelist that allows you to use certain apps without killing your tree. Although, for some people, this might just lead them to use their phone again and procrastinate. If you want to get more work done, then Forest is a great app to use. Try it now for free.
You might think that sitting peacefully and not doing anything for 20 minutes would be a waste of time and make you less productive. If you do, then you’re quite mistaken. Research indicates that frequently meditating actually increases concentration and trains the mind not to wander – or, at least, it trains you to be able to pull it back to the task at hand when it does wander.
You mind is like a muscle: the more you train it, the stronger it gets, and the more effective it is when you use it. A trained muscle can handle more weight, just like a trained mind can handle more tasks being thrown at it. The more you meditate, the more you’re training your mind, and thus the more effective it will be when you try to use it.
Headspace is considered the best app on mobile for meditation. It has loads of mindfulness and breathing exercises for you to choose from, as well as guided sleep meditations, and a free basics course that will teach you the fundamentals of meditating. Using the app takes up just a few minutes of your day, so it’s ideal even for people who live busy lifestyles.
When you’re well-rested and calm, you’re more likely to be performing at your best. Stop leaving it to chance and start taking control of your own thoughts by training yourself in mindfulness and meditation with the free Headspace app.
Tasks: Todo List
Who doesn’t love making a list? They’re the best little things. They help you to remember which groceries to buy, what you’re aiming to achieve throughout the day, or even what your goals are for the next year. Having one place for all your lists is a good way to ensure that you don’t lose or forget about them. This means that you can keep all your goals and tasks under control and ensure that you’re not letting anything slip under your radar.
An effective way to ensure productivity throughout the day is to write a to-do list either first thing in the morning or before you go to bed the previous night. This gives you a base to work from and ensures that you’re starting the day with your goals fresh in your mind. When you do this, you’re much more likely to actually achieve those goals during the day.
Tasks: Todo List is a convenient way to ensure that you’ve always got your goals with you and you can add to them or cross them off at any time. It’s a very simple app that has placed a lot of emphasis on minimalist design to draw attention to the task that you want to achieve and nothing else.
This is without doubt one of the best password managers around. LastPass lets you save all your passwords to the app (nobody but you can access them) and then auto-fill them when prompted. This saves you from having to remember all of your passwords – which is obviously very convenient – and it allows you to create very long and extremely complex passwords that are much harder for a hacker to crack.
LastPass comes with its own password generator which you can program to create passwords dozens of characters long and with multiple layers of complexity. Of course, you’ll never remember these passwords, so it’s very important that you do remember you LastPass master password. This will be your key to unlocking all your other accounts, so it might be a good idea to write down a physical copy somewhere and hide it in your home.
LastPass makes life easier and saves you from having to ever type out a password (or have a new one emailed to you) again.
If you’re managing a project – whether a solo personal one or a team professional one – then you have to be using Trello. This app allows you to organize tasks in multiple boxes and then designate them to different people, set deadlines on them, and move them between sections when they’re ready to go to another phase. It’s an indispensable tool when you’re working on a project and it makes the more difficult side of management seem incredibly straightforward.
You can add links into the cards that you post on the Trello board, as well as images, dates, users, and more. It has a massive amount of third-party integration and is so easy to use that it is genuinely mind boggling they give it away for free.
If you’re managing a project – or even if you just want to get you house in order – Trello is a great tool that you should consider using.
We can’t talk about productivity without mentioning Google Docs (and Google Sheets, for that matter). The cloud-based document editor is one of the most convenient apps around. You can carry it – and your work – around with you wherever you are and you never have to worry about losing your work if your device breaks or becomes corrupted. Everything is always backed up in the cloud.
With Google Docs, you can access your work on any device, at any time, just by logging in to your account. This is a genius way of storing your work and it means that you’ll never be able to forget anything again. Google Docs has totally revolutionized the way that we save our work and carry it with us. It makes for a much more productive day.