Top Productivity Apps That Save Time and Help You Focus
Life can get a little chaotic, so here are some of the top productivity apps that I use on a regular basis that help me stay organized, focused, and on track.
I have split it into Internal productivity apps, which help me keep my personal life together, and External productivity apps, which help me develop and maintain my entrepreneurial projects or ventures.
Google Apps is essential to everything I do. Google’s stuff is fast, clean, has great features, and really good search functions. It keeps my calendar, contacts, emails, bookmarks, and chrome settings & extensions synced across all platforms as well which makes easy access to all of my most important information device-neutral.
Google Apps for Business costs 5$/month per mailbox, but you can start your free trial here
Sync.com is a Canadian cloud storage provider that offers end-to-end encrypted storage at very reasonable prices. I’m paying $50CAD a year for 500gb of encrypted storage and 2tb is only $98CAD. The advantages over others like Google Drive or Dropbox, is that even Sync.com themselves do not have access to your data as it is encrypted locally before it is uploaded to the cloud.
I like my apps minimal in feel, and Todoist is probably the most gorgeous and simple todo app I’ve had the chance of trying out. It has apps for every platform, and the free account has enough of the features I need. The $33/year premium adds extra features that might be worthwhile for some of you though.
Noteworthy alternative: Trello. Trello has more of a Kanban board feel seeing as it resembles a wall with post-its which is very visual and great for project collaboration.
I use Todoist more for my simpler to-do tasks that don’t need extra elaboration
You could always resort to the little black book on the desk to keep track of passwords like my mother does, but that is just not convenient enough for how often I would end up checking it. Most people use two or three passwords and rotate depending on the website, but I prefer having unique passwords everywhere. The only secure password is a unique one, and one you can’t easily remember. A chrome extension or phone app with a search function connected to an encrypted cloud database of passwords makes things a lot easier. Never forget your LastPass password though. I once did and had to create a new account. The free membership is great if you only need a manager for your PC or mac while the premium membership allows you to sync passwords on most smartphones as well. That costs $12 a year.
People often think that you stop reading books once you’re “out in the real world”. I know far too many people that get too caught up in their day-to-day lives to read and honestly I have also been slacking off with the actual reading part myself lately. That is where audiobooks come in though. I have incorporated podcasts and audiobooks while I’m on the go or doing other things that allow me to pay attention, and this has increased my knowledge intake dramatically in the past year. It is great for idea generation and simply for keeping up with the fields that I am passionate about. If you want to listen to a ton of books, Audible offers monthly plans which are worth checking out. They start at $15/month and you can get a free 30-day trial that includes two books here.
I used to have a vast library of music that I picked up over the years by torrenting and I got rid of all that now since I have started using Spotify. The best part about Spotify is not its huge library of music which has just about everything you can think of, but the playlists that individuals can create. You can then browse through them sorted by genre, mood, or activity. There’s all kinds of stuff other than mainstream music on there. Stuff to help you meditate, relax, focus, workout, and even laugh as there is random stand-up comedy bits, too. Spotify is free if you are okay with hearing audio ads and having the mobile app limited to shuffle only. Premium allows you to save music for offline play and removes all ads from the platform. Premium is $10/month. I officially started paying for music for the first time in 2014.
Whether you’re working alone, or working with thousands, Slack is absolutely the best way to communicate within a team of any size. If you’ve ever used IRC in the earlier days of the internet, Slack is IRC 2.0.
If you hate communicating with people you work with over facebook, email, text message, or whatever crappy internal messaging system is built into what you have at work, then take a look at Slack. You’re going to love it when you get the chance to play around with it and really understand what can be done with it. You’ll never want to communicate internally using anything else ever again. It’s free as long as you don’t care about your chat history. If you want to keep a history larger than 10,000 lines, you’ll have to pay a monthly fee per each member. But here’s a $100 credits to get you started for free!
It turns out that even in the age of social media, email lists are the most effective way of communicating with your audience. You can send out all sorts of information, newsletters, promotions. or set up systems to help people with the use of your site or platform.Mad Mimi has free a free plan to get you started and the pricing scales up based on your subscriber base.
It is wise to get a sense of who interacts with you, your product, or you service, and with Nimble you can do just that. Nimble is a contact manager with great social integrations which gathers a lot of relevant data on your contacts by sourcing information from various social media outlets. This information can provide you with loads of information on who is interacting with you, and when combined with the mailing list it can even give you information on who is signing up for your mailing lists. This can be achieved with Zapier. Nimble costs $15/month and other features worth checking out.
How people used APIs always intrigued the hell out of me, and then I discovered Zapier. With Zapier, you can easily link multiple services together so that information flows freely in between various apps that you use. For example, we use a Typeform that adds the email to a mad mimi list, which also adds that contact in Nimble, letting us know that the individual was added from the Typeform on our website. It is similar to IFTTT, but with a much greater library of uses. You can have a few “zaps” set up and running for free, but if you need more connections plans start at $20/month. Most apps in this section can be connected together using Zapier so that actions in any app could trigger actions or send information to other apps.
Revenue, costs, invoices, bills. The reason I did not bother with the basic accounting stuff was that I simply did not know what to use in order to make it simple. Accounting apps were expensive and clunky and ran off local databases which were prone to problems. It is only since cloud accounting apps like Xero came into existence that I seriously started keeping track of my financials seeing as it became borderline automatic for me to do. On the other hand, if you just want to keep track of personal things, check out mint.com
Let’s face it; Social media is important no matter what you do. It is called “social” for a reason because that is exactly what it is. It is a way to express your voice online and that helps attract an audience for your service/ideas/products or can be used to generate overall awareness around certain issues. That being said, nobody has the time to sit there all day and actually post things on a regular basis, so how do most brands, pages, and celebrities (or their PR agents) do it? They schedule everything in advance using tools like Buffer. It’s pretty straightforward to use when you connect your social media profiles and it is entirely worth the $10/month it costs.
You have a calendar and you have people that want to schedule some time with for a call, meeting, interview, or whatever it could be. How do you coordinate? Well, you could email back and fourth trying to set up a time that is convenient for the both of you which could take a while to decide on, or you can simply setup an appointment scheduler that gives people the option to pick a timeslot based on your availabilities. It even syncs with Google Calendar so that if you manually create a new event on Google, it will block out that time on Calendly. Calendly is free if you create only one appointment type. Premium gives you a couple of extra use features and costs $10/month
Everyone has knowledge to offer other people and for a yearly payment of $297 you can host an unlimited amount of webinars with an unlimited amount of people. This allows you to build any other kind of service or product around sharing digital knowledge. WebinarJam is basically a plugin for Google Hangouts, which means Google is doing the heavy lifting of the webinar while WebinarJam is giving you the tools to organize and host it. They offer a 30-day refund and if you want to give it a shot you can sign up for that here.
Setting these up can be a long process, but with even just a handful of these top productivity apps you are bound to save time and it will help free you from distractions by streamlining your work into a semi-automated workflow.
If software and systems setup isn’t you’re thing, we do offer installation services for entrepreneurs and business owners who would rather let the professionals take care of making sure everything works well together so that you could focus on doing what you do best instead.