Advertising
Advertising

This List of 15 Free Productivity Apps Will Give You Your Time Back

This List of 15 Free Productivity Apps Will Give You Your Time Back

As I’m sure any of us can attest, there are many distractions that take away from our productivity and occupy time that would be better spent elsewhere. There are plenty of ways to help you save time and increase efficiency. These 15 free apps will make day-to-day tasks a breeze and give you back your focus for where it really belongs.

Self Control

This app for Mac gives you laser focus by taking away that which distracts you the very most on your computer. Rather than blocking out absolutely everything, Self Control lets you specify a blacklist of websites. Just set your list and a period of time, and crank through your to-do list. But be warned: once you’ve specified an amount of time, you will not have access to your blacklisted sites until time is up.

SelfControlApp-Lifehack

    Remember the Milk

    Available for Android and iOS, Remember the Milk is an easy way to stay on top of your tasks without employing a single post-it or back-of-your-hand-note ever again. The app syncs seamlessly with apps like Evernote and even commands you give to Siri so nothing falls through the cracks. New releases are rare with this app – but the feature set is already so great, this is hardly a big complaint.

    RemembertheMilk-Lifehack

      Dashlane

      Available for Android, iOS and desktop, this password manager gives you an easy-to-use password management app. Securely store your data and use the free form filler to quickly log into different accounts and rapidly fill out forms.  The app also tracks your online shopping, and has emergency password retrieval. There are a few login pages that Dashlane doesn’t cover, but the peace of mind more than makes up for it.

      Advertising

      Dashlane-Lifehack

        Day One

        Currently only available on iPhone, iPad & Mac, Day One gives you a place to journal. Automatically include details like the date/time, weather, photos, music you’re playing, location and more to remember for years to come. Only con: for the more sentimental people out there, you won’t have a journal you can hold in your hand later on down the line.

        DayOne-Lifehack

          Pocket

          Keep track of relevant and interesting webpages – everything from articles and recipes to videos – and take a look later when you have the time to really digest it. Pocket will highlight the best information for you to focus on. Just make sure you go in and sort through what you’ve saved regularly or you might accumulate a backup and end up reading for hours, with no actual productivity saved. Available on Android & iOS.

          Pocket-Lifehack

            Sunrise

            Available on both Android & iOS, Sunrise is a calendar app with a clean and beautiful interface. Keep track of everything you’ve got going on with reminders, sync with iCloud and Google Calendar, weather updates and more. If you’re frequently on the road like me, don’t worry – you’ve got automatic time zone adjustment. It’s set to only show you three days at a time, which could be a pro or a con depending on how you look at it.

            Sunrise-Lifehack

              Slack

              This app is available on Android, iOS and your desktop and gives you a platform for team communication. My own team and I have found it minimizes email deluge and provides a great place to collaborate. Create different channels for sub-teams within your larger team and archive conversations when they’re no longer relevant. Slack also has a powerful search function that helps you locate conversations from weeks before.

              Advertising

              Slack-Lifehack

                Shyp

                Never experience another interminable wait in line at the post office. Shyp’s tagline – “the easiest way to ship anything” – is no joke. The app’s got a simple and clean UI and all you have to do is fill out your recipient’s info, snap a picture of the item you’re sending and request a ‘hero’ to fulfill your request. So far, our team in San Francisco hasn’t waited more than 10 minutes for a pickup. The only drawback is a lack of transparency on what the exact shipping costs will be, but you can’t deny the simplicity of the entire process – as well as the fact that it’s only available in San Francisco for now. Available on iOS & Android.

                Shyp-Lifehack

                  Evernote

                  Long hailed as one of the best apps for productivity, Evernote lives up to every bit of the hype. A beautiful app that lets you, literally, remember everything. Document your brainstorm, collect webpages, pictures and more in one place, and collaborate on all of this with those that need to be in the loop. Some of the other great features come at a cost, but definitely worth considering the investment! Available on both Android and iOS.

                  Evernote-Lifehack

                    Venmo

                    No more difficulty sharing the bill – Venmo lets you quickly and securely send or receive payments. From rent to splitting dinner, making a payment is done in a matter of taps and less than 30 seconds. You can set these payments to private or share them more widely with those in your network. Be aware: using a credit card in the app comes with transaction fees, while a debit card is free. Available on both Android and iOS.

                    Advertising

                    Venmo-Lifehack

                      Contacts+ 

                      A simple and well-designed UI to keep all of your contacts in one place. Contacts+ pulls in information from other services you use, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, among others. Merge your contacts to save time, and use the smart search to quickly find exactly who you’re looking for. Available on both Android and iOS.

                      Contacts

                        Google Drive

                        This one’s an obvious choice – but one that my team uses every single day to collaborate on docs and stay on the same page (no pun intended, I promise). I’m a particular fan of the feature that lets you “suggest” edits to the doc, rather than just leave comments or completely edit without the owner’s approval. Available for Android and iOS.

                        GoogleDrive-Lifehack

                          RescueTime

                          RescueTime gives you weekly reports of how you’re spending your time online – which sites you’re on and how long you’re spending on them. This helps you understand your daily behaviors and which behaviors are the ones making you the most productive. You can set goals for yourself and see how you’re measuring up over time. The only drawback is that for the app to be truly accurate, you have to properly and sometimes painstakingly categorize your behaviors. This takes a while, but you’ll get this time back in no time. Available on Android.

                          RescueTime-Lifehack

                            Lift

                            This community-driven app gives you a way to set goals for yourself and keep track of them. Watch your progress, and turn to the community – which includes expert guidance – when you need support. There are options for peer coaching, bringing your friends on board and helping others with their own goals. One con is that the app crashes fairly regularly. Available on both Android and iOS.

                            Advertising

                            Lift-Lifehack

                              Concur

                              Never confront masses of mangled and torn receipts ever again! As someone who finds himself on the road regularly for work, managing and submitting expense reports on a timely basis can be difficult. With Concur, all you have to do is snap a picture of the receipt (and then throw it away – you don’t need it anymore!), fill out necessary details and instantly add it to your existing report. Managers can quickly approve or deny reports as well. The UI leaves a bit to be desired, but that’s a purely cosmetic complaint. Available on both Android and iOS.

                              Concur-Lifehack

                                Save even more time by swapping out your default keyboard for a third party keyboard (whether you’re on Android or iOS!) that you can use in all of your apps for fast, easy typing.  What are your tech tips for staying productive? Share them in the comments!

                                Featured photo credit: Top Free Productivity Apps via picjumbo.com

                                More by this author

                                15 Amazingly Useful Google Services You Should Know About Top 12 Online Resources for Total Coding Beginners This List of 15 Free Productivity Apps Will Give You Your Time Back

                                Trending in Productivity

                                1 How to Do What You Love Successfully 2 15 Inspiring Journal Ideas to Kickstart Journaling 3 How to Set Goals Smartly to Accomplish More in Life 4 How to Focus and Concentrate Better to Boost Productivity 5 7 Techniques to Stay Focused and Avoid Distractions

                                Read Next

                                Advertising
                                Advertising
                                Advertising

                                Last Updated on December 9, 2019

                                15 Inspiring Journal Ideas to Kickstart Journaling

                                15 Inspiring Journal Ideas to Kickstart Journaling

                                Journaling is a powerful tool that can help sharpen your brain and mind so that you can become more successful, think more clearly, and reach your goals.

                                Journaling is one of the top strategies that contribute to many entrepreneurs and high achievers’ success inside and outside the workplace.

                                Maybe you’re unsure of how to get started with the habit of journaling, or maybe you’re looking for journal ideas to sharpen your brain to maximize your productivity and happiness.

                                In this article, we’ll look at the top 15 journal ideas you can use to sharpen your brain:

                                1. Set a Structure for Your Journal

                                If the idea of opening a blank journal and trying to figure out what to write for the day seems daunting to you, then have no fear. One of the simplest ideas to avoid having to think about what to write about in your journal is to create a structure that works well for you.

                                First, think about what your goal is with journaling. Is it to increase your productivity? Be more creative? De-stress?

                                Knowing the reason why you are journaling will help you create a structure for your own journal. You can create a list of questions that you want to answer every day or action steps.

                                For example, you may structure your journal like this:

                                • What am I grateful for today? (Give 5 meaningful examples)
                                • What are the top 3 tasks I need to accomplish today?
                                • What goals am I currently working towards?
                                • How do I want to better myself today?

                                Get inspiration from other people who journal and start implementing the structure that works best for you. Having a set structure that you use every day can make journaling more effective and easier to stick with.

                                2. Use To-Do Lists to Hack Your Dopamine

                                Many people use journaling as a way to manage their tasks and to-do lists. One brain hacking strategy is to cross out your accomplished tasks with red ink.

                                It may seem silly, but when your brain recognizes the bright red ink crossing out a task that has been performed, it helps stimulate a release of dopamine, your reward and motivation neurotransmitter.

                                Dopamine is what allows you to feel the reward of accomplishing a task, but it also will help increase your motivation, which can help you become more productive, focused, and motivated to continue journaling.

                                3. Write Just One Sentence (Seriously)

                                For some, the idea of having to sit down for more than 5 minutes and write a long entry every single time can make journaling feel more like homework than a helpful habit.

                                Advertising

                                There are no rules or requirements for journaling. You don’t need at least 500 words with an introduction, body, and conclusion. If you want, you could even do as little as just one sentence.

                                Maybe it’s a busy day and you simply don’t have the time you usually do to sit down and journal. Writing just a sentence or two can help your brain continue the habit of journaling so that it can stick. It can also take some pressure off of you from feeling like you have to write more, just because that’s what you are “supposed” to do.

                                Also allowing yourself to write less forces your brain to hone into what’s important. If you only have a few sentences to write, most likely you won’t write about what you want to have for lunch, you’ll focus on what’s truly important at that moment.

                                4. End Your Entry with Your Top Goals (Day, Month, Lifetime)

                                A great idea for seamlessly transitioning from journaling to starting your day is to end your journal entry with your top goals or tasks. Typically, you’ll write out your current goals for the day ahead, whether they be for work, diet, or fitness. This helps to prime your brain to look forward to the day ahead.

                                You can also include your bigger goals for the month, year, or even for your life. By writing your goals down on regular basis, it helps orient your brain and your decisions toward the direction of your goals.

                                It’s the steady reminder of what you are working towards so that you can achieve it as quickly as possible.

                                Need a little help in how to set goals? This article can help: How to Set SMART Goal to Make Lasting Changes in Life

                                5. End Your Day with Journaling

                                Many first-timers to journaling are under the impression that you need to journal first thing in the morning. Although journaling first thing in the morning is great, it is not necessary.

                                Many people choose to journal in the evening as a way to decompress from the day and set the tone for the next day.

                                Journaling at night also can help you de-stress and write down anything that may be bothering from earlier that day, so that you can get it off your mind, onto paper, and be able to get good sleep.

                                6. Practice Gratitude

                                Studies show that practicing gratitude actually helps your brain become better. Practicing gratitude helps activate your hypothalamus, which is part of your limbic system, to help you better regulate your emotions, behaviors, and even improve motivation.[1]

                                Practicing gratitude first thing in the morning helps your brain gain a positive perspective to start the day. It helps your brain look for the good in the day, rather than only preparing for the worst.

                                This idea is incredibly simple to implement. Just write down 3-5 things that you are grateful for. You can express gratitude for people, experiences, circumstances, events, or blessings that you may be thankful for.

                                Advertising

                                The more gratitude you can feel the better, which means you want to try and come up with responses that truly resonate with you (the recent job promotion that allows you and your spouse to travel more) instead of finding generic reasons (food, water, shelter). Although you may be grateful for those things, they may not resonate as deeply.

                                Learn more about starting a gratitude journal: How a Gratitude Journal and Positive Affirmations Can Change Your Life

                                7. Write One Positive Thing That Happened in Your Day

                                What you focus on becomes powerful in your brain. Have you ever had a good day but you couldn’t seem to get past the one bad event that happened that day?

                                Our brain is trained to look towards the negative as a natural protective response, but you can retrain your brain to focus on the positive.

                                When you write down one or more positive things that happened that day, it helps your brain reframe the day in a positive light and actually helps to train your brain to focus on the positive aspects of your day rather than the negative.

                                8. Affirmations

                                Your thoughts can change your brain. Affirmations are a useful tool for retraining your brain. Affirmations are positive reinforcements to push your brain in the direction you desire.[2]

                                Do you want to be more confident? You can write down a list of affirmations as a way to retrain your brain to believe what you want to believe. Here’re some affirmations examples:

                                • I am fully confident and secure in myself.
                                • I am beaming with confidence and self-assurance.
                                • I don’t let my insecurities prevent me from reaching my goals.

                                Write down a few pieces of gratitude every morning to direct your brain in the direction of your goals to start the day.

                                You can find more affirmations ideas here: 10 Positive Affirmations for Success that will Change your Life

                                Or try one of these affirmations apps: 10 Uplifting Positive Affirmation Apps That Help You Re-Center on the Go

                                9. Restate Your Purpose and Mission

                                Why did you wake up today?

                                What’s the purpose and mission of your day? Are you currently working towards a specific goal?

                                Being able to state your mission and purpose helps to set the intention for your day ahead so that every action and choice you make during the day is directed towards your purpose and mission.

                                Advertising

                                This allows you to be able to say no to activities that may be taking you away from your goal. Then you can stay focused on the activities that will keep you in alignment with your purpose and mission.

                                Want to learn more about the importance of having a purpose? This article has some good advice: How to Get Motivated and Be Happy Every Day When You Wake Up

                                10. Unload Your Stress

                                We all have those difficult and challenging events that life inevitably throws our way. Often times, we have a tendency to hold onto that stress and ruminate over it. Holding onto that stress can begin effect not only our work life but our personal life as well.

                                Chronic stress is one of the biggest killers of brain health and performance. Research shows that chronic or extreme stress can actually cause your brain to shrink.[3]

                                Have you ever felt less stressed after talking to someone about the challenges you are facing? Unloading your stress into a journal entry is a similar strategy.

                                By unloading your stress into your journal, it can help your brain de-stress and even help you get a different perspective on the problem.

                                11. Reflect on Old Journal Entries

                                If you were trying to lose weight for several months and felt like you didn’t get the results you were hoping for but then you decided to weigh yourself, you might realize you actually lost more weight than you thought.

                                Change happens slowly and often times we don’t realize how much we have actually grown in the months or years that have passed.

                                A helpful aspect of journaling is that after you have been practicing the habit for some time, you can reflect back on old entries.

                                Reflecting on old journal entries gives your brain an overview of that change that has occurred from the old entry until now, which can help motivate your brain to keep going.

                                12. Brainstorm

                                Are you currently feeling stuck on a problem and not sure what’s going to be the next best step? Journaling can help your brain get more clarity on the best solution.

                                Being able to lay out all aspects of the problem on paper can help your brain better work the problem so you can get to the best solution quicker and easier than trying to process just in your head.

                                Looking at the same problem through a different lens gives you a whole new picture that can help you solve it.

                                Advertising

                                13. Tell a Story

                                Creativity is like a muscle – if you don’t use it, you lose it. Your brain loves routine but if you do the same journal routine over and over, your brain doesn’t change.

                                Instead of your normal routine of journaling, mix it up by telling a story. This trains your brain to become more creative, adaptable, and changeable.

                                Writing a story helps your brain break free from routine and start thinking outside the box. This can help improve your creativity in other aspects of your life as well.

                                14. Check-In with Your Goals

                                As we discussed earlier, many use their journal as a place to write down their goals. As you progress, you can use journal entries to check-in with yourself to see how you are tracking towards your goals.

                                Maybe you realize that you are not as close to your goal as you hoped. Below your discovery, write down a few action steps to get you back on course toward hitting your goals.

                                15. Create Compelling Vision

                                If you want to become more motivated, then you need something compelling to look forward to.

                                Unclear goals or destinations rarely get reached. The clearer the vision, the easier it will be for your brain to visualize and attain that outcome.

                                In a perfect world, what would your ideal future look like? Where would you live? How much money are you making? What kind of car do you drive? Where do you get to travel?

                                Creating this compelling future is a fun idea to help your brain become more motivated to achieve that goal.

                                Bottom Line

                                Just like anything else, journaling gets better with time and practice. So, give journaling some time.

                                At first, it may feel a bit awkward; but over time you’ll find your rhythm and routine that best suits your goals, your lifestyle, and your personality.

                                If you’re ready to take your journaling to the next level, start incorporating these 15 journaling ideas to take your brain power to the next level.

                                More About Journaling

                                Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

                                Reference

                                [1] Oxford Academic: The Neural Basis of Human Social Values: Evidence from Functional MRI
                                [2] The Annual Review of Psychology: The Psychology of Change: Self-Affirmation and Social Psychological Intervention
                                [3] CNS Neurol Disord Drug Targets. 2006 Oct; 5(5): 503–512.: Stress and Brain Atrophy

                                Read Next