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11 Free Apps That Will Guarantee An Increase In Your Productivity

11 Free Apps That Will Guarantee An Increase In Your Productivity

Everyone wants to do more in less time, and luckily in this day where technology is stapled to our hands – using apps to stay productive has become easy.

But before we get started, let’s define what productivity means. These are a few points that it should help you with:

  1. It will save you time, and cut out extra steps needed for similar tasks you do daily.
  2. It has the potential to be on multiple platforms allowing you to sync your apps together.
  3. It should make your life easier to manage and improve it in some way.

Here are 11 completely free apps in no particular order, that will increase your productivity, keep you on track, and help you achieve more.

Ink Flow

INKFLOW1

    Inkflow is for the personal artist or visual thinker. This is a personal favorite for me as it allows me to capture my ideas normally as I would with a pen, but also re-arrange them towards my liking and them upload the pictures so I can have my own personal idea as a picture. It’s also a great way to doodle your ideas and getting a better picture when you don’t have then pen and paper nearby. I use it sometimes to scratch little ideas, and pictures that I like for when I paint, or write. It also makes me feel like a child sometimes who gets to doodle. And doodling is proven to help make you focus. (Click here for the study and to learn more about the benefits of doodling)

    Ink Flow is available for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch – You can download it here.

    RescueTime

    RescueTime

      RescueTime is one of my favorite apps that happens to be free, but also has a paid option. I highly recommend this, so you can sign up for free and track how you spend your time. Each week you will receive a report of how you spend your time via the internet – which sites you browse, how frequently and for how long? You can also set personal productivity goals, and RescueTime will track it for you. You can see your progress in your dashboard, in your weekly report or the goals report section. The premium plan ($9 a month or $72 a year) gives you the option to block certain website if you want to get something done. For example, when I spend 6 hours a day on Facebook, I could definitely benefit from this and get Facebook blocked so I can move along with actually important matters (not liking strangers photos). I love it because I can start it and just let it track how I use my time without actually having to track my time. It’s a easy way for me to see where I spend most of my time, and from that point on I begin to cut out websites/and applications that I use too often. It’s a great way to find out how you’re using your time, or if you’re just on social media 80% of the day.

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      RescueTime is available for Mac, PC, Android and Linux. You can sign up here for free.

      Evernote

      evernote

        Evernote is a core app. By this, I mean it is the central housing for productivity, at least in my case – I put everything on it. I list everything I need to do on it, and Evernote has the ability to use it across all of your devices, which is helpful if you have different types of devices (like I do). It helps me stay organized with my daily schedule, and save any ideas I get when I’m out for a walk or I have a burst of creativity. Some really cool features that Evernote has: create to-do lists, record voice reminders, take notes, take pictures and add them to your notes. A really cool feature that evernote just got was the ability to record and take notes at the same time (a personal favorite!).

        Evernote is free, but also has pricing plans which include a premium ($5 per month) and business plan ($10 per month). By paying a monthly or yearly fee, you can have access to many more features such as: added security, working offline, creating videos by using a full screen layout of your notes, and sharing and editing your notes between friends which can make it easier to work together and collaborate on projects with fellow students, classmates or even your boss(es).

        Evernote is available for everything. You can sign up here, or you can click here to download the app.

         

        Any.do

        324752-any-do-for-iphone

           

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          Any.do is the on-the-go to do list. It’s perfect for keeping up with your busy schedule and knowing what you need to do, whether its today, tomorrow or something upcoming. The reason I use this app is because it let’s me clear my head of the things I don’t need to remember. It also lets me put the tasks, reminders and things that I need to do in one location, which lets me focus on the bigger tasks throughout my day. It’s great for list-making and managing your tasks. Any.do has a unique feature called the Any.do moment that encourages making a habit of reviewing your daily tasks, which is why it is one of my favorites. Ever since I got this app I’ve started getting in the habit of checking what I need to do daily, and then going through an elimination process and cutting out what I don’t really need to do, and focusing on the tasks that really matter.

          Any.do is available for your Android, iPhone, Chrome and Web. You can also click here to sign up.

           

          Focusbooster

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            Focusbooster focuses on the Pomodoro Technique (which alternates 25-minute long working blocks with short breaks) in order to maintain sustainable, long-term productivity. What is the Pomodoro Technique? The Pomodoro Technique® is a simple way to boost your productivity when performing mind-consuming tasks. It helps you keep yourself focused while reducing mental exhaustion. Read more about it at the official website. And while there are plenty of different Pomodoro timers out there, one of my favorites is the Focusbooster App. The reason being is it is free, has a very clean and simple to understand user interface, and it works.

             Focusbooster is available for the iphone, Ipad, Mac and Windows. You can download the app here, or sign up by clicking here.

            An alternative to Focusbooster that I’ve started to use recently is Tomighty. It works in the same way, and is also completely free. And even though Focusbooster is simple and clean to use, I have found Tomighty to be easier to use, and it’s open source (meaning you can edit it and use anything to your liking). To find out more, click here.

             

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            Mailbox

            mailbox

              Mailbox is your mailbox redesigned in a simple format to save you more time, and allow you to be more productive. It’s light, fast, on the go and mobile-friendly. It works like a messaging system where you swipe your e-mails to archive them, trash them. And it’s designed for you to be able to scan and understand the entire message as if it were a text message. This app falls under my mission statement of simplifying your lifestyle, which is why I use it. I really believe in decluttering, and living with less in order to do more. This is how I keep a clean inbox at all times and never have to worry if I’m ever late for a response. And here’s another reason if you’re not convinced. There has been a report from the McKinsey Global Institute, that said the average person spends 13 hours (a total of 28 percent of our workweek) dedicated towards reading, deleting, sorting and sending emails.

              Mailbox is available for iPhone/iPad, Android, Gmail/iCloud. There is also a desktop beta going on. To download or signup – click here.

               

              Lift

              Lift

                Lift is an app that helps you turn your goals into action. There are expert-led plans, community habits, and you can also add your own custom goals. Lift is check-in system which allows you to track, and record your progress. The reason this app works so well is because of the support. If you’re having troubles sticking to a new habit, or a new goal that you have in mind; when you have someone there to encourage you it makes it so much easier. With lift you will get peer coaching, support from friends, or family and as well as reminders to keep you going. It’s the perfect app for setting new goals and actually making them happen. One of the simplest, yet innovative apps that allow personal growth as well as productivity.

                Lift is available for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch and Android. Click here to sign up.

                 

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                Honorable Mentions:

                These are some bonus apps that deserve a mention as they have been great for keeping things organized, simple and allowed me to boost my productivity.

                Dropbox:

                It shouldn’t be a surprise to see Dropbox on a list of recommended productivity apps. I’m sure everyone has heard of this, but it’s awesome for sharing, free, and easy to use. If you’re wondering what to use it for click here for a list of 62 ways to increase your productivity using by using Dropbox.

                Instapaper:

                There are great articles on the Internet and that can be both a good and bad thing for our productivity. To still be productive, and not have to read the new articles, posts as soon as they are live, try Instapaper. Instapaper allows you to save them to your account, and then read them at a time convenient for you.

                Quip:

                Quip allows you to edit and discuss in one place. This means you have both messages and documents together which allow you to work faster and be more productive. What I personally like about Quip is that the interface is almost identical across the mobile and desktop application, making the workflow and use of the app quite easy.

                Wunderlist:

                Wunderlist is available on almost everything (on iPhone, iPad, Mac, Windows, Android, Kindle Fire and the Web) which is why It’s so great to use. It allows for multipurpose use. It’s exactly as what the name states. It’s a wonderful list, that allows you to manage and share your to-do lists with friends, family or co-workers. It has a simple design that allows you to get the hang of it right away. You can also add reoccurring to-dos, create subtasks, print your to-dos, sync to other devices, and set due deadlines.

                Productivity isn’t just about doing this in the quickest amount of time. It’s about managing your time, and using it to benefit yourself. Your life is short and time is precious, so it only makes sense that you would want to use your time wisely and efficiently. For the sake of productivity and your time, don’t overwhelm yourself by getting all of these apps and just making to-do lists and not getting anything done. Instead, try and give each one of these apps a fair trial (a week or so), and see which one works for you and allows you to become more productive.

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                The Productivity Paradox: What Is It And How Can We Move Beyond It?

                The Productivity Paradox: What Is It And How Can We Move Beyond It?

                It’s a depressing adage we’ve all heard time and time again: An increase in technology does not necessarily translate to an increase in productivity.

                Put another way by Robert Solow, a Nobel laureate in economics,

                “You can see the computer age everywhere but in the productivity statistics.”

                In other words, just because our computers are getting faster, that doesn’t mean that that we will have an equivalent leap in productivity. In fact, the opposite may be true!

                New York Times writer Matt Richel wrote in an article for the paper back in 2008 that stated, “Statistical and anecdotal evidence mounts that the same technology tools that have led to improvements in productivity can be counterproductive if overused.”

                There’s a strange paradox when it comes to productivity. Rather than an exponential curve, our productivity will eventually reach a plateau, even with advances in technology.

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                So what does that mean for our personal levels of productivity? And what does this mean for our economy as a whole? Here’s what you should know about the productivity paradox, its causes, and what possible solutions we may have to combat it.

                What is the productivity paradox?

                There is a discrepancy between the investment in IT growth and the national level of productivity and productive output. The term “productivity paradox” became popularized after being used in the title of a 1993 paper by MIT’s Erik Brynjolfsson, a Professor of Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management, and the Director of the MIT Center for Digital Business.

                In his paper, Brynjolfsson argued that while there doesn’t seem to be a direct, measurable correlation between improvements in IT and improvements in output, this might be more of a reflection on how productive output is measured and tracked.[1]

                He wrote in his conclusion:

                “Intangibles such as better responsiveness to customers and increased coordination with suppliers do not always increase the amount or even intrinsic quality of output, but they do help make sure it arrives at the right time, at the right place, with the right attributes for each customer.

                Just as managers look beyond “productivity” for some of the benefits of IT, so must researchers be prepared to look beyond conventional productivity measurement techniques.”

                How do we measure productivity anyway?

                And this brings up a good point. How exactly is productivity measured?

                In the case of the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, productivity gain is measured as the percentage change in gross domestic product per hour of labor.

                But other publications such as US Today, argue that this is not the best way to track productivity, and instead use something called Total Factor Productivity (TFP). According to US Today, TFP “examines revenue per employee after subtracting productivity improvements that result from increases in capital assets, under the assumption that an investment in modern plants, equipment and technology automatically improves productivity.”[2]

                In other words, this method weighs productivity changes by how much improvement there is since the last time productivity stats were gathered.

                But if we can’t even agree on the best way to track productivity, then how can we know for certain if we’ve entered the productivity paradox?

                Possible causes of the productivity paradox

                Brynjolfsson argued that there are four probable causes for the paradox:

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                • Mis-measurement – The gains are real but our current measures miss them.
                • Redistribution – There are private gains, but they come at the expense of other firms and individuals, leaving little net gain.
                • Time lags – The gains take a long time to show up.
                • Mismanagement – There are no gains because of the unusual difficulties in managing IT or information itself.

                There seems to be some evidence to support the mis-measurement theory as shown above. Another promising candidate is the time lag, which is supported by the work of Paul David, an economist at Oxford University.

                According to an article in The Economist, his research has shown that productivity growth did not accelerate until 40 years after the introduction of electric power in the early 1880s.[3] This was partly because it took until 1920 for at least half of American industrial machinery to be powered by electricity.”

                Therefore, he argues, we won’t see major leaps in productivity until both the US and major global powers have all reached at least a 50% penetration rate for computer use. The US only hit that mark a decade ago, and many other countries are far behind that level of growth.

                The paradox and the recession

                The productivity paradox has another effect on the recession economy. According to Neil Irwin,[4]

                “Sky-high productivity has meant that business output has barely declined, making it less necessary to hire back laid-off workers…businesses are producing only 3 percent fewer goods and services than they were at the end of 2007, yet Americans are working nearly 10 percent fewer hours because of a mix of layoffs and cutbacks in the workweek.”

                This means that more and more companies are trying to do less with more, and that means squeezing two or three people’s worth of work from a single employee in some cases.

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                According to Irwin, “workers, frightened for their job security, squeezed more productivity out of every hour [in 2010].”

                Looking forward

                A recent article on Slate puts it all into perspective with one succinct observation:

                “Perhaps the Internet is just not as revolutionary as we think it is. Sure, people might derive endless pleasure from it—its tendency to improve people’s quality of life is undeniable. And sure, it might have revolutionized how we find, buy, and sell goods and services. But that still does not necessarily mean it is as transformative of an economy as, say, railroads were.”

                Still, Brynjolfsson argues that mismeasurement of productivity can really skew the results of people studying the paradox, perhaps more than any other factor.

                “Because you and I stopped buying CDs, the music industry has shrunk, according to revenues and GDP. But we’re not listening to less music. There’s more music consumed than before.

                On paper, the way GDP is calculated, the music industry is disappearing, but in reality it’s not disappearing. It is disappearing in revenue. It is not disappearing in terms of what you should care about, which is music.”

                Perhaps the paradox isn’t a death sentence for our productivity after all. Only time (and perhaps improved measuring techniques) will tell.

                Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

                Reference

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