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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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                Last Updated on January 6, 2021

                14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

                14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

                Everyone has heard the term productivity, and people talk about it in terms of how high it is and how to improve it. But fewer know how to measure productivity, or even what exactly we are talking about when using the term “productivity.”

                In its simplest form, the productivity formula looks like this: Output ÷ Input = Productivity.

                For example, you have two salespeople each making 10 calls to customers per week. The first one averages 2 sales per week and the second one averages 3 sales per week. By plugging in the numbers we get the following productivity levels for each sales person.

                For salesperson one, the output is 2 sales and the input is 10 sales: 2 ÷ 10 = .2 or 20% productivity. For salesperson two, the output is 3 sales and the input is 10 sales: 3 ÷ 10 = .3 or 30% productivity.

                Knowing how to measure and interpret productivity is an invaluable asset for any manager or business owner in today’s world. As an example, in the above scenario, salesperson #1 is clearly not doing as well as salesperson #2.

                Knowing this information we can now better determine what course of action to take with salesperson #1.

                Some possible outcomes might be to require more in-house training for that salesperson, or to have them accompany the more productive salesperson to learn a better technique. It might be that salesperson #1 just isn’t suited for sales and would do a better job in a different position.

                How to Measure Productivity With Management Techniques

                Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to fine tune your business by minimizing costs and maximizing profits:

                1. Identify Long and Short-Term Goals

                Having a good understanding of what you (or your company’s) goals are is key to measuring productivity.

                For example, if your company’s goal is to maximize market share, you’ll want to measure your team’s productivity by their ability to acquire new customers, not necessarily on actual sales made.

                2. Break Down Goals Into Smaller Weekly Objectives

                Your long-term goal might be to get 1,000 new customers in a year. That’s going to be 20 new customers per week. If you have 5 people on your team, then each one needs to bring in 4 new customers per week.

                Now that you’ve broken it down, you can track each person’s productivity week-by-week just by plugging in the numbers:

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                Productivity = number of new customers ÷ number of sales calls made

                3. Create a System

                Have you ever noticed that whenever you walk into a McDonald’s, the French fry machine is always to your left? 

                This is because McDonald’s created a system. They have determined that the most efficient way to set up a kitchen is to always have the French fry machine on the left when you walk in.

                You can do the same thing and just adapt it to your business.

                Let’s say that you know that your most productive salespeople are making the most sales between the hours of 3 and 7 pm. If the other salespeople are working from 9 am to 4 pm, you can potentially increase productivity through something as simple as adjusting the workday.

                Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to set up, monitor, and fine tune systems to maximize output.

                4. Evaluate, Evaluate, Evaluate!

                We’ve already touched on using these productivity numbers to evaluate and monitor your employees, but don’t forget to evaluate yourself using these same measurements.

                If you have set up a system to track and measure employees’ performance, but you’re still not meeting goals, it may be time to look at your management style. After all, your management is a big part of the input side of our equation.

                Are you more of a carrot or a stick type of manager? Maybe you can try being more of the opposite type to see if that changes productivity. Are you managing your employees as a group? Perhaps taking a more one-on-one approach would be a better way to utilize each individual’s strengths and weaknesses.

                Just remember that you and your management style contribute directly to your employees’ productivity.

                5. Use a Ratings Scale

                Having clear and concise objectives for individual employees is a crucial part of any attempt to increase workplace productivity. Once you have set the goals or objectives, it’s important that your employees are given regular feedback regarding their progress.

                Using a ratings scale is a good way to provide a standardized visual representation of progress. Using a scale of 1-5 or 1-10 is a good way to give clear and concise feedback on an individual basis.

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                It’s also a good way to track long-term progress and growth in areas that need improvement.

                6. Hire “Mystery Shoppers”

                This is especially helpful in retail operations where customer service is critical. A mystery shopper can give feedback based on what a typical customer is likely to experience.

                You can hire your own shopper, or there are firms that will provide them for you. No matter which route you choose, it’s important that the mystery shoppers have a standardized checklist for their evaluation.

                You can request evaluations for your employees friendliness, how long it took to greet the shopper, employees’ knowledge of the products or services, and just about anything else that’s important to a retail operation.

                7. Offer Feedback Forms

                Using a feedback form is a great way to get direct input from existing customers. There are just a couple of things to keep in mind when using feedback forms.

                First, keep the form short, 2-3 questions max with a space for any additional comments. Asking people to fill out a long form with lots of questions will significantly reduce the amount of information you receive.

                Secondly, be aware that customers are much more likely to submit feedback forms when they are unhappy or have a complaint than when they are satisfied.

                You can offset this tendency by asking everyone to take the survey at the end of their interaction. This will increase compliance and give you a broader range of customer experiences, which will help as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

                8. Track Cost Effectiveness

                This is a great metric to have, especially if your employees have some discretion over their budgets. You can track how much each person spends and how they spend it against their productivity.

                Again, this one is easy to plug into the equation: Productivity = amount of money brought in ÷ amount of money spent.

                Having this information is very useful in forecasting expenses and estimating budgets.

                9. Use Self-Evaluations

                Asking your staff to do self evaluations can be a win-win for everyone. Studies have shown that when employees feel that they are involved and their input is taken seriously, morale improves. And as we all know, high employee morale translates into higher productivity.

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                Using self-evaluations is also a good way to make sure that the employees and employers goals are in alignment.

                10. Monitor Time Management

                This is the number one killer of productivity in the workplace. Time spent browsing the internet, playing games, checking email, and making personal calls all contribute to lower productivity[1].

                Time Management Tips to Improve Productivity

                  The trick is to limit these activities without becoming overbearing and affecting morale. Studies have shown that most people will adhere to rules that they feel are fair and applied to everyone equally.

                  While ideally, we may think that none of these activities should be done on company time, employees will almost certainly have a different opinion. From a productivity standpoint, it is best to have policies and rules that are seen as fair to both sides as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

                  11. Analyze New Customer Acquisition

                  We’ve all heard the phrase that “It’s more expensive to get a new customer than it is to keep an existing one.” And while that is very true, in order for your business to keep growing, you will need to continually add new customers.

                  Knowing how to measure productivity via new customer acquisition will make sure that your marketing dollars are being spent in the most efficient way possible. This is another metric that’s easy to plug into the formula: Productivity = number of new customers ÷ amount of money spent to acquire those customers.

                  For example, if you run any kind of advertising campaign, you can compare results and base your future spending accordingly.

                  Let’s say that your total advertising budget is $3,000. You put $2,000 into television ads, $700 into radio ads, and $300 into print ads. When you track the results, you find that your television ad produced 50 new customers, your radio ad produced 15 new customers, and your print ad produced 9 new customers.

                  Let’s plug those numbers into our equation. Television produced 50 new customers at a cost of $2,000 (50 ÷ 2000 = .025, or a productivity rate of 2.5%). The radio ads produced 15 new customers and cost $700 (15 ÷ 700 = .022, or a 2.2% productivity rate). Print ads brought in 9 new customers and cost $300 (9 ÷ 300 = .03, or a 3% return on productivity).

                  From this analysis, it is clear that you would be getting the biggest bang for your advertising dollar using print ads.

                  12. Utilize Peer Feedback

                  This is especially useful when people who work in teams or groups. While self-assessments can be very useful, the average person is notoriously bad at assessing their own abilities.

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                  Just ask a room full of people how many consider themselves to be an above average driver and you’ll see 70% of the hands go up[2]! Now we clearly know that in reality about 25% of drivers are below average, 25% are above average, and 50% are average.

                  Are all these people lying? No, they just don’t have an accurate assessment of their own abilities.

                  It’s the same in the workplace. Using peer feedback will often provide a more accurate assessment of a person’s ability than a self-assessment would.

                  13. Encourage Innovation and Don’t Penalize Failure

                  When it comes to productivity, encouraging employee input and adopting their ideas can be a great way to boost productivity. Just make sure that any changes you adopt translate into higher productivity.

                  Let’s say that someone comes to you requesting an entertainment budget so that they can take potential customers golfing or out to dinner. By utilizing simple productivity metrics, you can easily produce a cost benefit analysis and either expand the program to the rest of the sales team, or terminate it completely.

                  Either way, you have gained valuable knowledge and boosted morale by including employees in the decision-making process.

                  14. Use an External Evaluator

                  Using an external evaluator is the pinnacle of objective evaluations. Firms that provide professional evaluations use highly trained personnel that even specialize in specific industries.

                  They will design a complete analysis of your business’ productivity level. In their final report, they will offer suggestions and recommendations on how to improve productivity.

                  While the benefits of a professional evaluation are many, their costs make them prohibitive for most businesses.

                  Final Thoughts

                  These are just a few of the things you can do when learning how to measure productivity. Some may work for your particular situation, and some may not.

                  The most important thing to remember when deciding how to track productivity is to choose a method consistent with your goals. Once you’ve decided on that, it’s just a matter of continuously monitoring your progress, making minor adjustments, and analyzing the results of those adjustments.

                  The business world is changing fast, and having the right tools to track and monitor your productivity can give you the edge over your competition.

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                  Featured photo credit: William Iven via unsplash.com

                  Reference

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