Use these top 11 productivity apps to organize your life and get more done each day.
Save your valuable time and brain space for stuff that matters. There are hundreds of productivity apps now to help you organize the “information overload” you face every day.
I know some days your brain is organized about as much as the above image, or at least it can feel that way. It happens to everyone, which can significantly increase your stress.
Worst of all, it takes way longer than it should to get things done when your life is a disorganized mess.
Productivity apps can help you externalize information, reduce your stress, and increase your output. Technology and social media have introduced an unimaginable amount of distractions. Productivity apps are a saving grace to help you keep track of the madness.
Picking the best productivity apps can be a time-consuming challenge itself… ironically. Never fear, as I’m going to show you the top productivity apps I personally use and how to get the most out of them.
I decided to write this post because the other articles I found either list every app under the sun (not helpful) or don’t describe how you can implement the apps in your life (also not helpful).
Consider taking these apps for a spin if you’re not using them already. You can stop using it if you don’t like it, or it could save you countless hours.
Top Productivity Apps
I’m starting with Todoist because it’s my absolute favorite. I started using it eight months ago and I don’t know how I lived without it. I must not have gotten much done…
Todoist has impacted my productivity far more than any other tool, trick, or strategy I’ve ever tried.
Simply put, Todoist is a to do list app to keep track of tasks, projects, and deadlines. Used correctly, you can leverage it as an ultimate productivity app to get much more stuff done.
It worked for me. I’ll describe how I use it, but I suggest exploring all the available functionality and customizing the app in a way that works for you.
First, I set up projects for my high-level commitments.
I use sub-projects to keep track of certain types of tasks. Some people prefer to use tags for this: subprojects are my preference.
I assign due dates to all tasks – except for low-priority items or general ideas.
Then I use the “Today” view on a daily basis. If there are too many tasks, I’ll review my list in the morning and throughout the day, postponing the lowest-priority tasks to other days.
There’s a great widget you can add to your home screen too so you can quickly check what you need to do if you don’t want to open the app.
Notice there’s also a “quick add” option to add a task in one-click. I see this as the equivalent of having a notebook in your pocket to jot things down. I use this multiple times each day.
I could go on and on – eventually I’ll write a full post about using Todoist to get more done. For now, check it out! The free version is probably more than enough to suit your needs.
Take a look at this post about the GTD (Getting Things Done) methodology and start to think about how Todoist can help. One of the principles in the post is “capture everything!”
How this organizes your life: How much time do you waste figuring out to do? How often have you dropped the ball on a task or missed a deadline because you forgot? Form a habit of using Todoist and this will never happen again.
2. Google Calendar
My friends reading this are smirking at this point. I use Google Calendar obsessively. It has helped me stay organize for years now.
I started using it after I completely forgot a meeting in senior year of high school. My boss said, “it’s probably time for you to start using a calendar.” I agreed and never looked back.
You don’t have to use Google Calendar, but I highly suggest using an online calendar of some sort.
Calendars are pretty straightforward, so the only “pro-tip” I’ll share is using it to plan and block your time. I always put meetings and other commitments in my calendar as soon as I schedule them. I also liberally send meeting invitations to friends to make sure they don’t forget me. (*weeps*)
Once your fixed commitments are set, block your work time to plan your day. This exercise may help you realize you don’t have enough time to do something – or you have a few hours of free time left to allocate.
How this organizes your life: Visualizing your time is a powerful tool to understand your capacity. You can open your calendar at any time to check for openings in your schedule, so that’s one less thing you have to remember.
It’ll also help you catch situations in advance where you’re fully booked for a day and don’t have time to work on important tasks.
Calendly is a new tool that I recently started using.
The process of going back and forth with friends or professional contacts to set up meetings is downright irritating. Calendly removes that frustration from your life.
The app integrates with your calendar and generates a link you can send to others to schedule meetings with you directly. When you set up your Calendly meeting types, you can control options like availability, buffer time, and location.
Get your Calendly set up and then send your link to others to set up meetings with you. It’s that easy! No more endless back-and-forth and comparing calendars.
A survey by Doodle, another great meeting scheduling app, revealed professionals spend 4.8 hours per week scheduling meetings. Cut down on this time with tools like Calendly.
How this organizes your life: Going back and forth and typing out your availability is annoying and time-consuming. You’ll be saving your own time here and your colleague’s time.
This app is commonly used by IT development teams to keep projects organized, but there’s probably a way you can use it too.
Trello’s intuitive interface helps you organize cards into lists. You can add comments, deadlines, and other information to the cards. That’s it. I like Trello because it’s such a simple way to keep track of lists!
Why is Trello necessary when I use Todoist as well? I think Trello’s interface is better for keeping track of long-term ideas, while Todoist helps me manage my daily to do list. I much prefer loading ideas into Trello rather than making a random Google Sheet bullet list or cluttering them in my Todoist.
How this organizes your life: If you’re like me, your brainstorming notes are scattered throughout different papers in different notebooks in different backpacks. Keep your ideas and lists in one place so you don’t have to send out a search party – and so you don’t forget something important.
Asana is a robust collaboration and project management app. It’s probably overkill for solo projects – I’d suggest Todoist instead – but you can use Asana for team projects to keep everyone on the same page.
This app is sort of Todoist on steroids. Teams highly customize their own Asana spaces to break projects into tasks and keep team members informed about updates.
I’d highly encourage checking out Asana for your next team project!
How this organizes your life: Team communication can be cumbersome, so use an app like Asana to stay on the same page. Nothing is worse than not realizing a team member is dropping the ball (which can cost you a huge amount of time later in a project).
If Asana is Todoist on steroids, Slack is a messenger app on steroids. Seriously – Slack is hands-down the best team communication app.
You can create Slack channels to discuss specific projects and also message team members directly.
Aside from its simplicity, what makes Slack so great is its many integrations with other services. Chances are, you’re already using a number of apps that can integrate with Slack. This is a great time-saving capability as you can keep your productivity tools organized in the same place.
Many of the apps mentioned in the post and hundreds more have Slack integrations!
How this organizes your life: Slack’s integrations turn it into a powerful information consolidation and productivity tool. Use it effectively and you’ll wonder how your team lived without it.
I’d be surprised if you haven’t heard of Evernote – the mother of note-taking apps. I personally think Evernote has gotten a little bloated and expensive.
Even so, after extensive searching, I still think it’s the best note-taking app. (Please reach out if you think I’m wrong!)
Evernote’s interface is clean and easy to navigate. You write notes and organize them into notebooks – simple as that. And if you want more complex, you can embed all kinds of rich content into your notes, clip web pages directly into Evernote with browser extensions, and much more.
The drawback is Evernote Free only permits syncing your account to two devices. Still, you can stay under your two-device quota if you use Evernote on your phone and tablet, then access it on your laptop through a web browser.
How this organizes your life: Similar to the brainstorming pages scattered everywhere – keeping your notes in one place is just downright efficient. Evernote’s rich functionality enables almost anything you’d want to do with it.
8. Google Keep
I think of Google Keep as floating post it notes that come with you everywhere. I use it throughout the day for quick “notes to self” if I don’t want to fire up Evernote or if it’s not really a to-do list item.
It’s hard to stay organized when you’re using so many productivity tools. For instance, how do you choose what to put in Evernote and what to put in Google Keep?
I’ve found that once you have a system, it just makes sense to keep certain information in some apps over others. You won’t have to think: you’ll just develop an instinct. That’s the point! More on this at the end of the post.
How this organizes your life: You can fire up the Google Keep app and make a quick note in a matter of seconds. Now that’s efficient!
You’ve probably heard of RSS feeds. Feedly is a great web-based feed reader so you don’t have to waste time checking your favorite sites every day.
It’s as simple as adding website feeds to your account and organizing these accounts into “boards.” You can browse all your feeds simultaneously or check boards for specific topics.
Feedly is also a great research tool for blog posts, it turns out!
How this organizes your life: As a brilliant person, you like to stay informed. Consolidating all your favorite sites into one place helps you consume the most relevant information in the limited time you have.
I just learned about Pocket recently as I was looking for a place to keep my blogging bookmarks organized. It impressed me enough for me to share it with you all in this post!
Pocket is essentially a way better version of your web browser’s bookmark manager.
You can tag items in your list and also read them directly in Pocket (saving yourself from the common “800 tabs open” syndrome).
Pocket uses tags instead of folders, which may freak you out. Stick with it and you’ll be using it to manage your own personal “Internet knowledge base” in no time.
How this organizes your life: Your web browser’s bookmarks list can get unwieldy quickly. I don’t even like looking through mine because at this point there are so many irrelevant bookmarks it can’t be saved. An app like Pocket is exactly what I needed to be able to quickly locate an article I read before.
I’ll round out this list with Mindmeister, a mind-mapping app that’s quite useful for brainstorming and note-taking.
Mindmeister makes it really easy to create a mind-map and collaborate on it with friends. This can take your team brainstorming to the next level.
No more sloppy mind-maps on whiteboards. Or… use Mindmeister to quickly create a pretty version of your whiteboard mess!
Mindmeister comes with a few templates to make it easy to get started with common mind-maps like brainstorming, project plans, to-do lists, and org charts.
Not sold on the benefits of mind-mapping? Take it from Lifehacker:
Mind maps can be more effective than other brainstorming and linear note-taking methods for a number of reasons:
- It’s a graphical tool that can incorporate words, images, numbers, and color, so it can be more memorable and enjoyable to create and review. The combination of words and pictures is six times better for remembering information than words alone.
- Mind maps link and group concepts together through natural associations. This helps generate more ideas, find deeper meaning in your subject, and also prompt you to fill in more or find what you’re missing.
Mindmeister streamlilnes this process for you.
How this organizes your life: Mind-mapping is an extremely effective brainstorming technique. Hand-drawn mind-maps can get sloppy, and re-creating one in Visio or another program can take a ton of time. Mindmeister solves both problems!
These top productivity apps are guaranteed to streamline your life. Save time for tasks that really matter by optimizing as many areas of your life as you can.
You won’t regret it. Your stress will go down, your free time will go up, and you’ll have more room in your brain for creativity and innovation.
Productivity apps have been an incredible driving force to help me accomplish more, stay on top of numerous projects, and navigate information overload.
What productivity apps do you use? Is anything missing from this list? Let me know in the comments.