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11 Free Apps That Will Guarantee An Increase In Your Productivity

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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 October 7, 2021

                Are You Addicted to Productivity?

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                Are You Addicted to Productivity?

                “It’s great to be productive. It really is. But sometimes, we chase productivity so much that it makes us, well, unproductive. It’s easy to read a lot about how to be more productive, but don’t forget that you have to make that time up.”

                Matt Cutts wrote that back in 2013,[1]

                “Today, search for ‘productivity’ and Google will come back with about 663,000,000 results. If you decide to go down this rabbit hole, you’ll be bombarded by a seemingly endless amount of content. I’m talking about books, blogs, videos, apps, podcasts, scientific studies, and subreddits all dedicated to productivity.”

                Like so many other people, I’ve also fallen into this trap. For years I’ve been on the lookout for trends and hacks that will help me work faster and more efficiently — and also trends that help me help others to be faster. I’ve experimented with various strategies and tools . And, while some of these strategies and solutions have been extremely useful — without parsing out what you need quickly — it’s counterproductive.

                Sometimes you end up spending more time focusing on how to be productive instead of actually being productive.

                “The most productive people I know don’t read these books, they don’t watch these videos, they don’t try a new app every month,” James Bedell wrote in a Medium post.[2] “They are far too busy getting things done to read about Getting Things Done.”

                This is my mantra:

                I proudly say, “I am addicted to productivity — I want to be addicted to productivity — productivity is my life and my mission — and I also want to find the best way to lead others through productivity to their best selves.

                But most of the time productivity means putting your head down and working until the job’s done.” –John Rampton

                Addiction to Productivity is Real

                Dr. Sandra Chapman, director of the University of Texas at Dallas Center for BrainHealth points out that the brain can get addicted to productivity just as it can to more common sources of addiction, such as drugs, gambling, eating, and shopping.

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                “A person might crave the recognition their work gives them or the salary increases they get,” Chapman told the BBC.[3] “The problem is that just like all addictions, over time, a person needs more and more to be satisfied, and then it starts to work against you. Withdrawal symptoms include increased anxiety, depression, and fear.”

                Despite the harmful consequences, addiction is considered by some experts as a brain disease that affects the brain’s reward system and ends in compulsive behavior. Regardless, society tends to reward productivity — or at least to treat it positively. As a result, this makes the problem even worse.

                “It’s seen like a good thing: the more you work, the better,” adds Chapman. “Many people don’t realize the harm it causes until a divorce occurs and a family is broken apart, or the toll it takes on mental health.”

                Because of the occasional negative issues with productivity, it’s no surprise that it is considered a “mixed-blessing addiction.”

                “A workaholic might be earning a lot of money, just as an exercise addict is very fit,” explains Dr. Mark Griffiths, distinguished professor of behavioral addiction at Nottingham Trent University. “But the thing about any addiction is that in the long run, the detrimental effects outweigh any short-term benefits.”

                “There may be an initial period where the individual who is developing a work addiction is more productive than someone who isn’t addicted to work, but it will get to a point when they are no longer productive, and their health and relationships are affected,” Griffiths writes in Psychology Today.[4] “It could be after one year or more, but if the individual doesn’t do anything about it, they could end up having serious health consequences.”

                “For instance, I speculated that the consequences of work addiction may be reclassified as something else: If someone ends up dying of a work-related heart attack, it isn’t necessarily seen as having anything to do with an addiction per se – it might be attributed to something like burnout,” he adds.

                There Are Three “Distinct Extreme Productivity Types

                Cyril Peupion, a Sydney-based productivity expert, has observed extreme productivity among clients at both large and medium-sized companies. “Most people who come to me are high performers and very successful. But often, the word they use to describe their work style is ‘unsustainable,’ and they need help getting it back on track.”

                By changing their work habits, Peupion assists teams and individuals improve their performance and ensure that their efforts are aligned with the overarching strategy of the business, rather than focusing on work as a means to an end. He has distinguished three types of extreme productivity in his classification: efficiency obsessive, selfishly productive, and quantity-obsessed.

                Efficiency obsessive. “Their desks are super tidy and their pens are probably color-coded. They are the master of ‘inbox zero.’ But they have lost sight of the big picture, and don’t know the difference between efficiency and effectiveness.”

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                Selfishly productive. “They are so focused on their own world that if they are asked to do something outside of it, they aren’t interested. They do have the big picture in mind, but the picture is too much about them.”

                Quantity-obsessed. “They think; ‘The more emails I respond to, the more meetings I attend, the more tasks I do, the higher my performance.’ As a result, they face a real risk of burnout.”

                Peupion believes that “quantity obsessed” individuals are the most common type “because there is a pervasive belief that ‘more’ means ‘better’ at work.”

                The Warning Signs of Productivity Addiction

                Here are a few questions you should ask yourself if you think you may be succumbing to productivity addiction. After all, most of us aren’t aware of this until it’s too late.

                • Can you tell when you’re “wasting” time? If so, have you ever felt guilty about it?
                • Does technology play a big part in optimizing your time management?
                • Do you talk about how busy you are most of the time? In your opinion, is hustling better than doing less?
                • What is your relationship with your email inbox? Are you constantly checking it or experience phantom notifications?
                • When you only check one item off your list, do you feel guilty?
                • Does stress from work interfere with your sleep?
                • Have you been putting things off, like a vacation or side project, because you’re “too swamped?

                The first step toward turning around your productivity obsession is to recognize it. If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, then it’s time to make a plan to overcome your addiction to productivity.

                Overcoming Your Productivity Addiction

                Thankfully, there are ways to curb your productivity addiction. And, here are 9 such ways to achieve that goal.

                1. Set Limits

                Just because you’re hooked on productivity doesn’t mean you have to completely abstain from it. Instead, you need to establish boundaries.

                For example, there are a lot of amazing productivity podcasts out there. But, that doesn’t mean you have to listen to them all in the course of a day. Instead, you could listen to one or two podcasts, like The Productivity Podcast or Before Breakfast, during your commute. And, that would be your only time of the day to get your productivity fix.

                2. Create a Not-to-Do List

                Essentially, the idea of a not-to-do list is to eliminate the need to practice self-discipline. Getting rid of low-value tasks and bad habits will allow you to focus on what you really want to do as opposed to weighing the pros and cons or declining time requests. More importantly, this prevents you from feeling guilty about not crossing everything off an unrealistic to-do list.

                3. Be Vulnerable

                By this, I mean admitting where you could improve. For example, if you’re new to remote work and are struggling with thi s, you would only focus on topics in this area. Suggestions would be how to create a workspace at home, not getting distracted when the kids aren’t in school, or improving remote communication and collaboration with others.

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                4. Understand Why You Procrastinate

                Often, we procrastinate to minimize negative emotions like boredom or stress. Other times it could be because it’s a learned trait, underestimating how long it takes you to complete something or having a bias towards a task.

                Regardless of the exact reason, we end up doing busy work, scrolling social media, or just watching one more episode of our favorite TV series. And, even though we know that it’s not for the best, we do things that make us feel better than the work we should do to restore our mood.[5]

                There are a lot of ways to overcome procrastination. But, the first step is to be aware of it so that you can take action. For example, if you’re dreading a difficult task, don’t just watch Netflix. Instead, procrastinate more efficiently,y like returning a phone call or working on a client pitch.

                5. Don’t Be a Copycat

                Let’s keep this short and sweet. When you find a productivity app or technique that works for you, stick with it.

                That’s not to say that you can’t make adjustments along the way or try new tools or hacks. However, the main takeaway should be that just because someone swears by the Pomodoro Technique doesn’t mean it’s a good fit for you.

                6. Say Yes to Less

                Across the board, your philosophy should be less is more.

                That means only download the apps you actually use and want to keep (after you try them out) and uninstall the ones you don’t use. For example, are you currently reading a book on productivity? Don’t buy your next book until you’ve finished the one you’re currently reading (or permit yourself to toss a book that isn’t doing you any good). — and if you really want to finish a book more quickly, listen to the book on your way to work and back.

                Already have plans this weekend? Don’t commit to a birthday party. And, if you’re day is booked, decline that last-minute meeting request.

                7. Stop Focusing on What’s Next

                “In the age when purchasing a thing from overseas is just one click and talking to another person is one swipe right, acquiring new objects or experiences can be addictive like anything else,” writes Patrick Banks for Lifehack .

                “That doesn’t need to be you,” he adds. “You can stop your addition to ‘the next thing’ starting today.” After all, “there will always be this next thing if you don’t make a conscious decision to get your life back together and be the one in charge.”

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                • Think about your current lifestyle and the person you’re at this stage to help you identify what you aren’t satisfied with.
                • By setting clear goals for yourself in the future, you will be able to overcome your addiction.
                • Establish realistic goals.
                • To combat addiction, you must be aware of what is going on around you, as well as inside your head, at any given time.
                • Don’t spend time with people who have unhealthy behaviors.
                • Hold yourself accountable.
                • Keep a journal and write out what you want to overcome.
                • Appreciate no longer being addicted to what’s next.

                8. Simplify

                Each day, pick one priority task. That’s it. As long as you concentrate on one task at a time, you will be less likely to get distracted or overwhelmed by an endless list of tasks. A simple mantra to live by is: work smarter, not harder.

                The same is also accurate with productivity hacks and tools. Bullet journaling is a great example. Unfortunately, for many, a bullet journal is way more time-consuming and overwhelming than a traditional planner.

                9. Learn How to Relax

                “Sure, we need to produce sometimes, especially if we have to pay the bills, but, banning obsession with productivity is unhealthy,” writes Leo Babauta. “When you can’t get yourself to be productive, relax.” Don’t worry about being hyper-efficient. And, don’t beat yourself up about having fun.

                “But what if you can’t motivate yourself … ever?” he asks. “Sure, that can be a problem. But if you relax and enjoy yourself, you’ll be happier.”

                “And if you work when you get excited, on things you’re excited about, and create amazing things, that’s motivation,” Leo states. “Not forcing yourself to work when you don’t want to, on things you don’t want to work on — motivation is doing things you love when you get excited.”

                But, how exactly can you relax? Here are some tips from Leo;

                • Spend 5 minutes walking outside and breathe in the fresh air.
                • Give yourself more time to accomplish things. Less rushing means less stress.
                • If you can, get outside after work to enjoy nature.
                • Play like a child. Even better? Play with your kids. And, have fun at work — maybe give gamification a try .
                • Take the day off, rest, and do something non-work-related.
                • Allow yourself an hour of time off. Try not to be productive during that time. Just relax.
                • You should work with someone who is exciting. Make your project exciting.
                • Don’t work in the evenings. Seriously.
                • Visit a massage therapist.
                • Just breathe.

                “Step by step, learn to relax,” he suggests. “Learn that productivity isn’t everything.” For that statement, sorry Leo, I say productivity isn’t everything — it’s the only thing.” However, if you can’t cut loose, relax, do fun things, and do the living part of your life — you’ll crack in a big way — you really will.

                It’s great to create and push forward — just remember it doesn’t mean that every minute must be spent working or obsessing over productivity issues. Instead, invest your time in meaningful, high-impact work, get into it, focus, put in big time and then relax.

                Are You Addicted to Productivity? was originally published on Calendar by John Rampton.

                Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

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