These days, there is an app for everything. There’s even one that tells you where you parked your car. In a pirate voice. Yep, it’s called ‘Carrr Matey’. Although a pirate themed car location app is undeniably useful (and fun!), the majority of apps can be rather distracting. Anyone who has Facebook, Twitter or Instagram can attest to how many minutes social media apps can steal from your day. It’s easy to lose an hour watching videos on youtube, or on any of the many, many games available.
It doesn’t have to be this way! There are a few renegade apps out there that defy convention and actually help you focus on what’s important (hint: it’s not angry birds or other people’s photos). These apps will help you get MORE done, not less – boosting your productivity and aiding you getting the most out of your day.
Get focused with six of the best free productivity apps:
Evernote claims it’s the best note-taking software available for free, and most people agree. Indeed, many regard it as being more functional, intuitive and accessible than its often costly counterparts. It’s highly customisable and presents a variety of ways of organising all your material. Evernote also offers great innovations like the Web Clipper, which allows you to clip articles, videos, photos and just about anything else from the internet to the app – making them available offline and on every device. While you can pay for a premium service if you wish, the free version comes with unlimited storage, so you don’t have to worry about running out of space. The app integrates seamlessly with google drive, and syncs across devices, so it’s easy to use it as the basis for all your digital brainstorming. Evernote is available for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, BlackBerry and more.
Cold Turkey knows that, at the end of the day, many of us are a bit useless – prone to meandering over to social media sites after 3pm and spending a lot of time doing a lot of nothing. This app offers stern, uncompromising oversight – denying you access to the sites that distract you most. You can select particular times of the day to block access – when you know your willpower is at its weakest, or when there is something important to be done. You can block sites completely, or give yourself a daily time-limit after which you will not be able to visit the site. The option to lock your settings (making it very difficult to circumvent the block) is perfect for when the going gets tough. It’s available for free on Windows and Mac.
If Cold Turkey is the treatment, think of Rescue time as the diagnosis. The app delivers a weekly report detailing which sites you browse, how frequently and for how long. It can be a little confronting to see how all those wasted hours add up, but if you can only fix a problem after you know there is one. If you think you’re wasting too much time, go Cold Turkey! RescueTime also allows you to set personal productivity goals, which you can track via the dashboard, weekly report or the goals report section.
The premise of Pocket is simple: it’s a read later list. Any time you find an interesting-looking article at an inopportune time, you have the option to ‘pocket’ it for later. Then, when you have the time, you can open up the ‘read later list’ and peruse the articles you have saved at your leisure. What separates this app from its competitors is that it automatically syncs across all of your devices – allowing you to save something on your computer at work and then read it on your phone later. Pocket is great for productivity as it helps you avoid distraction when you need to focus on something important, while also allowing you to make the most of those quiet moments when you have a moment to spare. It’s also available across a wide range of platforms, including as a browser extension, an app for Mac, a mobile app for iOS, Android, Kindle Fire, WebOS.
Dropbox is pretty well-known, so forgive us if we’re preaching to the converted here. If you aren’t aware of it, let us introduce you. Dropbox allows you to store your photos, files, documents and just about anything else in the cloud. Once it’s there, you can access it from anywhere and with any device. What’s more, the app is great for teamwork and collaboration. You can share links to public files and receive comments from peers, or work on a project with multiple people. Plus streamline your file organisation.
Have you heard of the Pomodoro technique? It’s a popular technique that alternates 25-minute long working blocks with short breaks in order to maintain sustainable, long-term productivity. It’s an effective way of allocating your energy, maximising focus and keeping you working productively for longer. To find out more about the technique, check out the official website: http://cirillocompany.de/pages/pomodoro-technique/, or our blog post on beating procrastination (link blog). Focusbooster is a timer for this technique. While there are several Pomodoro timers out there (all of them will do the trick), this is our favourite – it’s free and has a clean, simple interface that is lovely to use.
It might take a bit of time to download these six apps (or seven, if Carr Matey takes your fancy), but they have the potential to save you many, many hours in the future. Let us know in the comments if you have tried any of these before, or if you have other favourites.