Advertising
Advertising

15 Really Popular Productivity Apps for the iPhone

15 Really Popular Productivity Apps for the iPhone

    Most iPhone apps are terrible: they don’t do much at all and what they do actually do, is usually the duplicate functionality of a hundred other apps that already exist. Most of them barely even do that very well. I may be a little harsh: while some people I know have maxed out their home screens and filled each and every one up with apps, I only use about eight apps.

    And even some of those, I barely use. I might pop into BOMRadar if the clouds look darker than normal, or Band because I’m utterly bored and don’t have time to get through a chunk of one of the books I read using BookShelf (BookShelf is perhaps the most used app on my phone).

    But my point is that I don’t even have enough apps installed on my iPhone to fill up a “15 Productivity Apps for the iPhone” article. One might find that my recommendations are a little too picky and I bypass apps that do the job well enough for most people. Which is why I’ve decided to take a look at the sort of productivity apps that other people are using. And it’s true: I am just an overly picky, cynical Scrooge who doesn’t like Christmas trees nor filling iPhone developers’ stockings by purchasing every app I see. Here are the productivity apps that the masses like.

    Advertising

    AirSharing

    AirSharing is an application that, in a nutshell, allows you to mount your iPhone on your computer via wifi and transfer files to the iPhone, or vice-versa. AirSharing then allows you to view a myriad of file types that are not supported by the iPhone itself. It’s no wonder AirSharing is popular; it’s always been difficult to get your files onto the iPhone, and even if you did you’d have a hard time viewing the files. AirSharing solves all of that.

    Zenbe Lists

    Zenbe Lists does one thing and it does it well, and if you hadn’t figured it out already, that thing is creating lists. You can view or edit your lists from the phone (not to mention from the web if you accidentally leave the phone at home), and share your lists between iPhones and via email. It has a few other minor features but that’s about as complicated as a good list program could or should get. While I don’t use Zenbe at this point, my wife uses it to keep a running list of things we need to grab on our next shopping trip.

    Things

    Things is actually a piece of software I regularly use, both on the desktop and the iPhone. Things is a task management application based on David Allen’s Getting Things Done system, and uses panels representing familiar GTD concepts such as the inbox, today list, next actions list, projects and roles, and so on. If you want GTD task management software that works great both on your iPhone and your Mac, I recommend Things. If you don’t have a Mac I probably wouldn’t, though, since you want to be able to sync your tasks.

    Todo

    We’ve already looked at Zenbe Lists and Things, both apps that can handle task management from each end of the complexity spectrum. The reason I mention Todo — and probably the reason it’s a frequently downloaded, popular application — is that it can sync with a whole bunch of online services such as Toodledo and Remember The Milk. If your system is deeply embedded in one of those services, you can’t get away with Zenbe or Things. You need an app like Todo.

    Advertising

    OmniFocus

    Initially one of the iPhone’s most popular applications, in the few months since the 3G and App Store launch OmniFocus has been surpassed by Things and by the looks of things, is very slowly climbing further down into the pages of the store. That doesn’t mean it’s bad software, though, and it still does remain quite popular among a wide variety of people. When I tried it, I liked it, and the only reason I stopped using it was because Things became my app of choice on the desktop. One of the coolest things about OmniFocus is the way it handles tasks in a location-aware fashion.

    eWallet

    eWallet is the App Store’s most popular password manager. Not only does it provide you with secure, encrypted storage for your account credentials, but it also has a cool visual method of storing and displaying credit card and bank info. That’s something I’d probably find infinitely useful, as I’m frequently trying to use my bank’s iPhone website to transfer money to my bank card for lunch and going hungry when I can’t remember the account number! Why I don’t just leave the money on the card beforehand is a dilemma for another time…

    SmartTime

    SmartTime is an intriguing looking app that uses an interesting interface to organize your tasks in a more calendar/schedule-driven way — at least, that’s what I gather from the screenshots. I don’t fully understand it and I don’t intend to purchase it, but SmartTime’s a popular app and there must be a reason why. The screenshots do seem to indicate a task management style that would be popular for a whole lot of people.

    iSilo

    iSilo is a document reader for iSilo, Palm Doc, and plain text formats. Aside from the Mobipocket format, these are some of the most popular formats for reading ebooks on phones today (and let’s not even pretend that anybody uses those Microsoft LIT files). You can also view a bunch of image types, PDFs, HTML files, and Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, and Powerpoint) files — including Office 2007 files.

    Advertising

    HanDBase Database Manager

    One thing I don’t get is how HanDBase became a popular iPhone application. It could be the best application in the world, but with an absolute crapper of a name like that, I wouldn’t buy it unless someone I trusted gave me the rave review of a lifetime (my apologies if the app’s namer is reading this!). This application allows you to create a relational database for visualizing, sorting and filtering your information, for everything from home inventory to task and shopping lists.

    iBlueSky

    It has been a while since I’ve been tempted to whip out the credit card for an iPhone application, but iBlueSky tempts me, if not for the curiousity of seeing how a mind map works. Frankly, I think that paper makes a mind map, a real mind map. I’ve never considered software alternatives to provide the same end result, because there’s something about the tangible effort of drawing a mind map that slows you down and allows the ideas to come out. Nevertheless, you can’t always have a big sheet of paper to dream on and iBlueSky has been filling in the gap for a bunch of people.

    iMExchange

    Exchange users who grabbed an iPhone when Exchange support was announced only to feel disappointed when their tasks and notes weren’t synced can breath a sigh of relief. At least I assume they can, because judging by the number of people using iMExchange, it works quite well. I couldn’t test iMExchange even if someone paid me too because I don’t have a spare random Exchange server sitting around, but if you need your Outlook tasks with you wherever you go, look into this app.

    WeDict Pro

    WeDict Pro is a dictionary. These things probably come in handy on the move much more frequently than you’d imagine at first, but in any given day there’s probably a few instances where you need to look up a word’s meaning, and we all know That Guy who you end up getting into a word definition argument with. Solve these problems with WeDict Pro. And learn Chinese while you’re at it thanks to the seemingly random English-Chinese dictionary that was thrown in.

    Advertising

    Equivalence

    Equivalence is a conversion tool. On the Mac, my most frequently used Dashboard widget is the conversion tool so I can see how this app became so popular — heck, once I’m done here I might just go and grab it myself. Conversion is something I know I have to do every day — US to Australian currency, pounds and feet to kilograms and meters, and so on. You’re probably in the same boat. Equivalence is a bit pricey for a conversion tool, so you use your discretion.

    OneDisk

    OneDisk provides you with access to a variety of cloud storage services, including MobileMe’s iDisk, MyDisk.se and Box.net. Potentially, OneDisk is even better than AirSharing because you can continue to access your files outside of the home. OneDisk also comes with a built-in viewer for Office, iWork, PDF, TXT and HTML files.

    jfControl

    I love Apple’s Remote application, mostly because it works with not just iTunes but the Apple TV too. However, if you’re just using Remote to control your iTunes library on your Mac, here’s a replacement app you may want to consider. jfControl can control iTunes, Front Row, whatever is in your DVD drive, the Finder, QuickTime, and Keynote for those big presentations. Perhaps someone left steroids in Remote’s feeding cage?

    More by this author

    The Importance of Scheduling Downtime How to Make Decisions Under Pressure 11 Free Mind Mapping Applications & Web Services How to Use Parkinson’s Law to Your Advantage 19 Free GTD Apps for Windows, Mac & Linux

    Trending in Featured

    1 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines 2 How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck 3 15 Ways to Cultivate Lifelong Learning for a Sharper Brain 4 How to Get Promoted When You Feel Stuck in Your Current Position 5 Building Relationships: 11 Rules for Self-Promotion

    Read Next

    Advertising
    Advertising
    Advertising

    Last Updated on April 8, 2019

    22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

    22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

    Unless you’re infinitely rich or prepared to rack up major debt, you need to budget your income. Setting limits on how much you are willing to spend helps control expenses. But what about your time? Do you budget your time or spend it carelessly?

    Deadlines are the chronological equivalent of a budget. By setting aside a portion of time to complete a task, goal or project in advance you avoid over-spending. Deadlines can be helpful but they can also be a source of frustration if set improperly. Here are some tips for making deadlines work:

    Advertising

    1. Use Parkinson’s Law – Parkinson’s Law states that tasks expand to fill the time given to them. By setting a strict deadline in advance you can cut off this expansion and focus on what is most important.
    2. Timebox – Set small deadlines of 60-90 minutes to work on a specific task. After the time is up you finish. This cuts procrastinating and forces you to use your time wisely.
    3. 80/20 – The Pareto Principle suggests that 80% of the value is contained in 20% of the input. Apply this rule to projects to focus on that critical 20% first and fill out the other 80% if you still have time.
    4. Project VS Deadline – The more flexible your project, the stricter your deadline. If a task has relatively little flexibility in completion a softer deadline will keep you sane. If the task can grow easily, keep a tight deadline to prevent waste.
    5. Break it Down – Any deadline over one day should be broken down into smaller units. Long deadlines fail to motivate if they aren’t applied to manageable units.
    6. Hofstadter’s Law – Basically this law states that it always takes longer than you think. A rule I’ve heard in software development is to double the time you think you need. Then add six months. Be patient and give yourself ample time for complex projects.
    7. Backwards Planning – Set the deadline first and then decide how you will achieve it. This approach is great when choices are abundant and projects could go on indefinitely.
    8. Prototype – If you are attempting something new, test out smaller versions of a project to help you decide on a final deadline. Write a 10 page e-book before your 300 page novel or try to increase your income by 10% before aiming to double it.
    9. Find the Weak Link – Figure out what could ruin your plans and accomplish it first. Knowing the unknown can help you format your deadlines.
    10. No Robot Deadlines – Robots can work without sleep, relaxation or distractions. You aren’t a robot. Don’t schedule your deadline with the expectation you can work sixteen hour days to complete it. Deathmarches aren’t healthy.
    11. Get Feedback – Get a realistic picture from people working with you. Giving impossible deadlines to contractors or employees will only build resentment.
    12. Continuous Planning – If you use a backwards planning model, you need to constantly be updating plans to fit your deadline. This means making cuts, additions or refinements so the project will fit into the expected timeframe.
    13. Mark Excess Baggage – Identify areas of a task or project that will be ignored if time grows short. What e-mails will you have to delete if it takes too long to empty your inbox? What features will your product lack if you need a rapid finish?
    14. Review – For deadlines over a month long take a weekly review to track your progress. This will help you identify methods you can use to speed up work and help you plan more efficiently for the future.
    15. Find Shortcuts – Almost any task or project has shortcuts you can use to save time. Is there a premade library you can use instead of building your own functions? An autoresponder to answer similar e-mails? An expert you can call to help solve a problem?
    16. Churn then Polish – Set a strict deadline for basic completion and then set a more comfortable deadline to enhance and polish afterwards. Often churning out the basics of a task quickly will require no more polishing afterwards than doing it slowly.
    17. Reminders – Post reminders of your deadlines everywhere. Creating a sense of urgency with your deadlines is necessary to keep them from getting pushed aside by distractions.
    18. Forward Planning – Not mutually exclusive with backwards planning, this involves planning the details of a project out before setting a deadline. Great for achieving clarity about what you are trying to accomplish before making arbitrary time limits.
    19. Set a Timer – Get one that beeps. Somehow the countdown of a timer appears more realistic for a ninety minute timebox than just glancing at your clock.
    20. Write them Down – Any deadline over a few hours needs to be written down. Otherwise it is an inclination not a goal. Having written deadlines makes them more tangible than internal decisions alone.
    21. Cheap/Fast/Good – Ben Casnocha in My Start Up Life mentions that you can have only have two of the three. Pick two of the cheap/fast/good dimensions before starting a project to help you prioritize.
    22. Be Patient – Using a deadline may seem to be the complete opposite of patience. But being patient with inflexible tasks is necessary to focus on their completion. The paradox is that the more patient you are, the more you can focus. The more you can focus the quicker the results will come!

    Featured photo credit: Estée Janssens via unsplash.com

    Advertising

    Advertising

    Read Next