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Last Updated on November 3, 2020

20 Best Mac Apps for Productivity You Need in 2020

20 Best Mac Apps for Productivity You Need in 2020

Whether you use your Mac for work or just for your personal projects, you’ve likely found yourself wondering how to improve your productivity. There are only so many hours in a day, and so much mental stamina you can muster before you run out.

There are dozens of tricks you can use to improve your own productivity and outlook, but if you’re looking for a more objective, comprehensive fix, the best thing to do is equip your Mac with productivity apps designed to help you do more in less time.

This Lifehack-exclusive list has some of the best productivity apps to help you feel less tired, improve your energy, and ultimately help you get more done every day.

What Makes For the Best Productivity Apps?

Beyond productivity tips, there are dozens of productivity apps to choose from too. With that in mind, here are some of the core aspects of ideal productivity apps that have formed this list.

  • Non-intrusive – you want a productivity app to weave seamlessly into your workflow and not cause disruptions. From using the app to the overall display, it shouldn’t cause any interruptions.
  • Good interface – Again, you want to be able to use these apps easily and have them benefit you. The easier you can navigate around these apps, the better.
  • Fair pricing – Many of these have free trials that allow you a good chance to test before you buy. If you do decide to pay for it, the monthly pricing plans should be reasonable for what you are getting.

1. Todoist

    Available for all iOS devices, Todoist is a note-taking and organization app that can keep you on top of all your projects—both personal and professional.

    Its best features are all free to use, including browser extensions, task creation, and interactive boards you can use to organize all your notes.

    If you want to pay the optional $29 yearly fee, you can get even more advanced features like backups and automatic reminders. Even with the free version, you’ll stay far more organized.

    Download: Todoist

    2. 1Password

      You may not realize it, but you probably spend a ton of time recalling your passwords, especially if and when you forget one to an app you use on a regular basis.

      1Password is an app for Mac that saves and remembers all your passwords for you in one place, so you can access all your favorite sites with a single click.

      You’ll save time and keep all your accounts secure simultaneously. A personal plan is $2.99 per month.

      Download: 1Password

      3. Bear

        Bear is a unique kind of note-taking app designed to make it easier for Mac users to jot down notes on the go. With it, you can create to-do lists, give yourself reminders, and outline concepts for future brainstorming sessions.

        It comes with many different inline styles so you can customize your notes to your personal preferences, and remember the context in which you wrote them. The core version is free, with a $14.99 per year version available as well.

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        Download: Bear

        4. Hazel

          Hazel by noodlesoft is an automated organization tool designed for Mac that will help you automatically organize your files based on any custom rules you want to create.

          For example, you can set it to move untouched items from one folder into another folder labeled “action items” if they haven’t been addressed within a week. It can save you hours of organization over the course of a few weeks. A single license is a flat $32.

          Download: noodlesoft

          5. Alfred

            Alfred is an all-in-one app designed to save you time with Mac shortcuts and convenient custom actions. You can use it in a variety of ways.

            For example, you can access Alfred’s clipboard memory so you don’t copy and paste the same material over and over, or set up custom workflows to automate some of your most repetitive tasks.

            It’s a paid app, with multiple price points based on the features you desire.

            Download: Alfred

            6. TextExpander

              TextExpander does exactly what the name suggests; it allows you to type a short snippet of text, and expand that text automatically.

              For example, you can create a custom expansion that allows you to conjure a full paragraph you type repeatedly by simply typing a unique abbreviation. Once you get used to your custom combinations, you’ll spare your fingers from typing thousands of words.

              An individual account is $3.33 per month.

              Download: TextExpander

              7. Backblaze

                If you’ve ever experienced a crash, or theft of your Mac, you know how much time a system restore can cost you. You’ll spend hours replacing the files you lost, and lose thousands of files that are irreplaceable.

                Backblaze is an automated, inexpensive way to back up your entire Mac for just $5 a month.

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                Download: Backblaze

                8. Keyboard Maestro

                  Keyboard Maestro is an older app that still has the power to make your life easier. With it, you can automate any number of tasks based on a certain trigger (such as a hotkey combination, or an event like connecting to a wireless network). A single license only costs $36.

                  Download: Keyboard Maestro

                  9. Snagit

                    There are many applications for a good screen-capture app, whether you’re trying to illustrate a tech problem you have or just want to make an interesting meme. Snagit makes it easy, with built-in editing for both still images and video. A single license covers two machines, and costs $49.95.

                    Download: TechSmith/Snagit

                    10. Bartender

                      Bartender is the cleverly-named app that helps you clean up and organize all your menu bar icons. You can also access them quickly with keyboard shortcuts.

                      If you’re like most Mac users, those icons get cluttered quickly and stop you from working efficiently. It’s free to try for 4 weeks, after which you’ll need a $15 license.

                      Download: Bartender

                      11. Otter

                      Otter is the Mac app for the note taker who hates typing. It’s an intelligent voice-recognition system and note-taking app that will help you transcribe your conversations, keep notes during meetings, and even take contextual notes to yourself in your own time.

                      Best of all, it’s free to get started!

                      Download: Otter

                      12. Flux

                        Do you often find yourself feeling tired throughout the day, or feeling unable to get to sleep after a day of staring at your computer? That could be because of the unnatural blue light that radiates from your Mac.

                        Flux naturally adapts your display to emit light that matches the time of day, so you can sleep better and feel less tired. It’s also free!

                        Download: Flux

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                        13. PDFpen

                        If you deal with PDFs on a regular basis, you probably find yourself wishing for some kind of tool that can let you mark up those PDFs however you want. Without a dedicated app like PDFpen, this can be difficult.

                        PDFpen lets you edit PDFs in almost any conceivable way, giving you more power and saving you time. A single license is $74.95.

                        Download: Smile Software/PDFpen

                        14. OmniFocus

                          OmniFocus is all about task management. It has a clean interface that allows you to tag your tasks, schedule events, and even automate certain features.

                          It’s one of the most comprehensive solutions on the market, so there’s a bit of a learning curve to get the most out of it.

                          A standard license is $39.99, while the pro version is $79.99.

                          Download: OmniFocus

                          15. Franz

                            It’s tiring to switch between dozens of different chat programs like Facebook Messenger, Slack, and WhatsApp, whenever you want to have a conversation with a different contact.

                            Franz’s solution is simple; offer access to all these apps in one convenient package. And best of all, it’s completely open source.

                            Download: Franz

                            16. MindNode

                              If you’re the brainstorming type, you need an app like MindNode to help you efficiently organize your thoughts. There are dozens of tools you can use to connect ideas in a mind map, or simply jot down notes for future reference.

                              The core app is free, with in-app purchases available.

                              Download: MindNode

                              17. Focus

                                The internet is a wonderful thing, but it can be awfully distracting. And if you’re like the majority of us, you’ve interrupted work on a project because of some attention-grabbing site or bad online habit. That’s where Focus comes in.

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                                This app allows you to block the worst offenders with custom time limits and other constraints, so you can focus on the task at hand. A single license is $19.99.

                                Download: Focus

                                18. CleanMyMac

                                  Chances are, your Mac isn’t working as fast as it could, thanks to gigabytes of clutter and unnecessary files on your system. CleanMyMac helps you scan your Mac, monitor its health, and ultimately clean it up—so you can handle all your tasks that extra bit faster. A single license is $39.95.

                                  Download: CleanMyMac

                                  19. Grammarly

                                    A spelling error or grammatical mistake can cost you big time. It could be the source of a worse grade on a big paper, or compromise your credibility in the workplace. Thankfully, Grammarly can help you.

                                    This Mac-integrated writing assistant monitors all your writing and makes live corrections, so you’re alerted to your potential mistakes before they become permanent.

                                    A free version exists, but the premium version will cost you between $11 and $30 a month, depending on how you pay.

                                    Download: Grammarly

                                    Focus To Do

                                      Focus to-do is one of the top productivity apps for your iPhone around. It even has a desktop client that you can connect to effortlessly. The app is built around two things: the Pomodoro technique and task management. It achieves these things with amazing balance. All that you have to do is create a task and then set the timer right within the app itself.

                                      There is also great flexibility with the Pomodoro technique as well. You can choose whether to take a 5 minute break, take a longer one, or even skip it. On the task management side, you can also create reoccurring tasks, reminders, and place a priority on tasks too.

                                      Download: Focus To Do

                                      The Bottom Line

                                      These productivity apps should help you squeeze more productive hours out of every day, but they aren’t the only tools you’ll have to help you find success.

                                      Make the time to learn about and experiment with all the life hacks that can make you more productive. By improving your devices as well as your outlook and focus, you’ll be able to get far more done in a day, and feel better doing it.

                                      More to Boost Productivity

                                      Featured photo credit: Patrick Ward via unsplash.com

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                                      Anna Johansson

                                      Anna specializes in entrepreneurship, technology, and social media trends.

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                                      Last Updated on November 3, 2020

                                      50 Ways to Increase Productivity and Achieve More in Less Time

                                      50 Ways to Increase Productivity and Achieve More in Less Time

                                      If you feel like you don’t have enough time to do everything you want to do, maybe it’s time to check-in with your time management skills.

                                      No one is born to be very good at time management, so that’s okay if you think you’re bad in it. But everyone can learn to boost their productivity and achieve more!

                                      Here are 50 ways to increase productivity and add hours to your day.

                                      1. Set a Timer

                                      Estimate the time you need to tackle different tasks and set a timer for each of your tasks. How you go about this is up to you as there are many different ways. There is the Pomodoro technique where you focus on a task for 25 minutes followed by a five minute break afterwards.

                                      In the event that you have a task that will take much longer than that, you can consider one of the many timer-based apps. One that comes to mind is Clockify. It’s used for freelancers and entrepreneurs alike, however it’s a good way to be setting yourself a timer. It provides reports and you can serve as a project manager of sorts too. Best of all, it’s free.

                                      Download Clockify here.

                                        2. Eliminate All Distractions

                                        Distractions include the phone, email notifications and having multiple web browsers open on the desktop. Just as it’s important to be organized offline, it’s key to have things organized online as well. One consideration is trying out Freedom an app that allows you to block certain sites during periods of time. Try it out on your phone here.

                                        You can also learn more on how to get rid of all distractions in this guide: How to Focus and Maximize Your Productivity (the Definitive Guide)

                                        3. Listen to Music That Boosts Productivity

                                        Distractions should be avoided, but sometimes a bit of music in the background can help you focus.

                                        Of course, it doesn’t need to be heavy rock music, but a bit of Beethoven may do you some good.

                                        Here’s a complete guide to help you pick the right music for better productivity: How To Maximize Your Productivity With Music: A Complete Guide

                                        4. Find Meaning in What You Do (And Love What You Do)

                                        Enjoying what you do is the ultimate way to increase your productivity.

                                        If you aren’t sure what you love doing yet, don’t worry. Leo Babauta has some unique ways to help you: How to Find Your Passion

                                        5. Prioritize your tasks ahead of time.

                                        By listing your tasks in order of importance, you can make sure that you finish all of your most important tasks during the day.

                                        Learn a unique technique to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster.

                                        6. Batch Similar Tasks into a Single Batch.

                                        Tasks like blog writing, phone calls, email and errands can be grouped into a single batch. You will save time by completing similar tasks in one session. One way to help you with organizing all of those things is through the app Todoist. It’s an easy and simple way for you to plan out your day, set reminders, and group all of your most important tasks in a convenient spot.

                                        Download Todoist here.

                                          7. Complete Your Most Dreaded Tasks First Thing in the Morning.

                                          Whichever activity you are dreading the most is probably the one you need to complete first thing in the morning.

                                          Many people tend to check emails in the morning because after checking a list of emails, they feel fulfilled. But that’s just an illusion of having achieved more.

                                          Doing simple tasks like checking emails first in the morning is bad for you. Instead, do the difficult tasks because you have more energy in the morning to tackle them!

                                          8. Reward Yourself for Finishing a Big Task

                                          To stay motivated for whatever you do, reward yourself every now and then.

                                          Keep track of your small wins and milestones and celebrate them. So whenever you struggle about your progress, you see how far you’ve come!

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                                          Find out more about this 2-Step Approach to Self-Motivation: Track Small Wins and Reward Yourself.

                                          9. Don’t Multitask

                                          Research has shown that multitasking is not productive. If you think you can multitask, think again.

                                          For optimum productivity, focus on one thing at a time.

                                          10. Step Away from the Computer

                                          The Internet has become one of the number one distraction. To increase your productivity, try to do as much of your work offline as possible.

                                          I do this a lot when I try to brainstom new ideas and have found it to be very beneficial to simply unplug.

                                          11. Use Focus Tools

                                          Make good use of apps and technology to help you remove distractions.

                                          Here’re 18 Best Time Management Apps and Tools to help you stay focused. This way, you’re not distracted by the web, e-mail, or IM.

                                          12. Just Start

                                          Often times, starting is the hardest part. People tend to wait for the perfect time with perfect condition to start. But there’s no perfect condition.

                                          Once you get going, you will quickly get into a rhythm that could last for hours.

                                          13. Find out Your Productive Hours

                                          Everyone has a certain time of the day in which they are more productive than others. For me, it’s the morning.

                                          Find out when your prime time is for productivity and optimize your work schedule accordingly.

                                          14. Keep a Notebook and Pen on Hand at All Times

                                          This way, you can write down your thoughts, to-dos and ideas at any time. The key is to get everything out of your head and onto paper. Your subconscious mind won’t be reminding you about it every other second. Another consideration is getting the app Evernote. Not only does this save you on ink and paper, Evernote is a convenient place for you to jot down notes and thoughts and then share them with the team. In certain circumstances, this can prove useful if you’re the type of person that has a lot of ideas that you want to share.

                                          Download Evernote here.

                                            15. Write a Blog to Chronicle Your Own Personal Development and Achievements

                                            The blog keeps you accountable and always working towards self improvement and personal growth.

                                            When you write down all the small achievements you’ve been having, you’re also more motivated to move forward.

                                            And you know what, this is how I started Lifehack too! What also helped me in starting Lifehack is WordPress, which allows people to set up a website for free. WordPress has simplified a lot of the process of building a site to the point that virtually anyone can build a website now.

                                            Try WordPress out here.

                                            16. Write out a To-Do-List Each Day

                                            I like to plan my day the night before. This way, I can get started on my most important tasks as soon as I wake up.

                                            Make sure you don’t make any of these common to-do-list mistakes!

                                            17. Write Your Most Important Tasks and To-Dos on a Calendar.

                                            The key to good time management is knowing where to be and what to be doing there at any given time. Effective calendar management goes hand in hand with good task list management.

                                            Learn here How to Use a Calendar to Create Time and Space.

                                            18. Reflect on Your Productivity Constantly

                                            As you go throughout your day, repeatedly ask yourself:

                                            “Am I currently making the best possible use of my time?”

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                                            This one simple question can be an excellent boost to your productivity.

                                            19. Get up Early Before Anyone Else

                                            I know it could be difficult for some to wake up early in the morning but nothing beats a quiet house!

                                            Here’s How to Start Your Day at 5:00 AM and some Simple Things Early Risers Do to make waking up early easier.

                                            20. Get Plenty of Sleep

                                            When you work online, sleep can become a long lost memory. However, it’s important to get plenty of sleep so that your working hours can be as productive as possible.

                                            Try out this night routine which I highly recommend for productivity: The Ultimate Night Routine Guide: Sleep Better and Wake Up Productive

                                            21. Exercise

                                            Research has shown that midday exercise boosts productivity and morale in the workplace.

                                            Take a short walk at lunch or do some simple stretches during your break to maximize your productivity.

                                            Here I have some exercises recommendations for you:

                                            22. Outsource as Much as Possible

                                            If you want to achieve more in less time, learn to delegate or outsource work. Here are just a few of the companies that will help you outsource your everyday tasks:

                                            Also, read this guide to learn how to delegate effectively: How to Delegate Work (the Definitive Guide for Successful Leaders)

                                            23. Set Some Exciting Goals

                                            Without worthy goals, you will never be motivated to get things done.

                                            Set goals that are challenging and achievable. The best goal setting framework is a SMART goal. That said, there are other tools that can help you out as well.

                                            For example, Strides is an app that takes the SMART goal framework and amplifies it through reports, charts, and other helpful information to help you achieve your goals faster and regularly.

                                            You can download Strides here.

                                              24. Tell Other People About Your Goals

                                              When you tell others about your goals, you will instantly be held accountable.

                                              25. Listen to Podcasts

                                              Listen to educational podcasts or audio books while you’re driving to work, cleaning the house, exercising, or cooking dinner.

                                              Audio learning has the power to add hours to your day. Not to mention, your cranium is sure to thank you for it.

                                              Some recommendations for you: 11 Podcasts To Inspire Yourself

                                              26. Read David Allen’s best-selling book Getting Things Done

                                              This is one of the most important productivity books you will ever read. Read it, apply the tips in your daily lives and get more things done.

                                              Here’re more great books about productivity too: 35 Books on Productivity and Organizational Skills for an Effective Life

                                              27. Learn to Speed Read

                                              When you can read faster, you will read and learn more! Check out these 10 Ways to Increase Your Reading Speed.

                                              You can also make use of the app OutRead to help speed up your reading speed!

                                              28. Learn to Skip When You Read

                                              When you’re reading a book, just read the parts that you need and skip the rest. But you have to read with a purpose.

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                                              Learn how to make it work here: How to Read 10X Faster and Retain More

                                              29. Focus on Result-Oriented Activities

                                              Pareto’s law (also known as the 80 20 rule) states that 80% of the outputs result from 20% of the inputs. This means that 20% of our actions result in 80% of the results.

                                              We must find the 20% that is creating the 80% of our desired outcomes and focus solely on those activities.

                                              30. Take a Break

                                              You can’t always be working at optimum productivity. Instead, you should shoot for working in short bursts at your most productive times.

                                              31. Start a Polyphasic Sleep Schedule

                                              What is polyphasic sleep?

                                              Polyphasic sleep is a sleep pattern specification intended to compress sleep time to 2-5 hours daily.[1] This is achieved by spreading out sleep into short (around 20-45 minute) naps throughout the day. This allows for more waking hours with relatively high alertness.

                                              While you can learn more about it here, you’re recommended to take some naps during the day to recharge your energy too.

                                              32. Learn to Say “No”.

                                              We can’t do everything and therefore we must learn when to say no in order to save our sanity.

                                              Learn the Gentle Art of Saying No from Leo Babauta.

                                              33. Go on an Information Diet

                                              Most of the world lives on information overload. We must eliminate mindless Internet surfing.

                                              Stop reading three different newspapers a day and checking your RSS feeds multiple times a day. Otherwise, you’ll never get anything done.

                                              The key is to limit yourself only to information that you can immediately take action on. Here’re some simple tips you can try: 10 Simple Productivity Tricks To Manage Overloaded Information

                                              34. Organize Your Office

                                              The piles of paper around your desk can be a huge barrier on your productivity. Optimize your time by organizing your office, setting up a system and dumping the junk.

                                              Check out these 21 Tips to Organize Your Office and Get More Done.

                                              35. Find a Mentor

                                              By modeling after those who have already achieved success, you will save yourself a lot of time and energy.

                                              A good mentor is hard to find, so here’s a guide to help you: What to Look for in a Mentor

                                              36. Learn Keyboard Shortcuts

                                              With technology’s help, you can double your work efficiency. Even better, you learn all the shortcuts when using technology, for example keyboard shortcuts.

                                              When you use keyboard shortcut, you gain 64 hours every year!

                                              Not sure what shortcuts to lear? Check out these 22 Tricks That Can Make Anyone A Keyboard Ninja.

                                              Besides learning the shortcuts, you can also create keyboard shortcuts with AutoHotKey.

                                              37. Improve Your Typing Speed to Save Time

                                              Do you know you can save 21 days per year just by typing fast?

                                              You don’t really need to take some serious courses to type faster, try these typing games online:

                                              38. Work from Home and Avoid the Daily Commute

                                              If your job is a flexible one, consider working from home. This saves you the commute time and you’ll find yourself more energetic throughout the day as you have saved the long ride.

                                              Take a look at these tips to help you stay productive while working from home:

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                                              How to Work from Home and Stay Ultra-Productive

                                              39. Get Rid of Time Wasters

                                              Common time wasters include Instant Messenger, video games, Flickr, checking your stats 10 times a day, television and extraneous Internet surfing.

                                              Don’t rely on your willpower, make use of some of these useful tools to help you stay focus: 10 Online Apps for Better Focus

                                              40. Plan Your Meals in Advance

                                              Plan out all of your meals a week ahead and make your grocery list accordingly. This allows you to focus on the necessary – saving you time and money. You can also save yourself even more time through a wide variety of apps. One app that I find helpful is Mealime. It’s an app that provides you with a wide selection of recipes and also a convenient spot for your grocery list as well.

                                              Considering the fact that over 4 million users have this app, it goes to show that there is a good selection of meal plans that you can follow and that the app is friendly to use.

                                              Pick up Mealime here.

                                                41. Cook Your Meals in Bulk

                                                When you cook your meals in bulk, you will have plenty of leftovers. This can avoid having to cook everyday.

                                                Find out more about how to make cooking in bulk works: Once a Month Cooking: Productivity Hack or Overrated Time Suck?

                                                42. Protect Yourself from Unnecessary Phone Time with Caller ID

                                                The minutes you spend on picking up unnecessary phone calls are time wasted. You can prevent that from happening.

                                                Check out this detailed guide how you can deal with those unnecessary phone calls: How To Lose the Useless Items that Weigh Down Your Day – Cellphone Calls

                                                43. Take Shorter Showers

                                                This one may sound silly but it’s actually something I struggle with. I spend up to 30 minutes in the shower. Think of the time I could save simply by speeding up a bit.

                                                44. Save the Trips to Bank by Taking Direct Deposit

                                                Many employers now offer direct deposit. If yours does, then be sure and take advantage of it and save yourself from a number of trips to the bank.

                                                45. Auto Pay Your Bills

                                                How many times have you been worried about whether you missed the bills deadline?

                                                Auto paying your bills will save you time and eliminate late fees and increased interest rates.

                                                46. Shop Online

                                                Whenever possible, avoid going to the store. When you shop online, you can be more focus about what you’re getting.

                                                47. Speed up your Internet with a broadband connection.

                                                Many people are aware of the slow speed of internet but aren’t doing anything about it. In fact, this is the number one Internet time-saver!

                                                If you must use dial-up, then you can use accelerators like Propel and SlipStream to double or even triple your speed.

                                                48. Keep up the Speed of Your Computer

                                                If you’re a Windows user, use Windows hibernation feature to avoid the slowdown of exiting and restarting Windows.

                                                Or maybe, consider switching to Mac as there’re plenty of Advantages You Probably Don’t Know About Switching To Mac From PC.

                                                49. Turn off the TV.

                                                The average American watches more than 4 hours of television every day. Over a 65-year life, that’s 9 years glued to the tube.

                                                For better health and productivity, turn off the TV. Here’re 11 more reasons to tell you to stop watching TV so often.

                                                Turn off the TV and you are sure to get more out of life.

                                                50. Use a Tivo or DVR.

                                                This can help you cut an hour-long television show down to just 40 minutes. You can save time while not missing the fun.

                                                So, here’s the ultimate list of techniques you should learn to boost productivity. Pick the techniques that work for you and make them your daily habits. As time goes, you’ll find yourself being a lot more productive.

                                                More Time Management Tips

                                                Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

                                                Reference

                                                [1] Medical News Today: What is biphasic and polyphasic sleep?

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