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Five Apps That Will Increase Your Productivity

Five Apps That Will Increase Your Productivity

The success of smartphones and tablets over the last five years or so has been helped in no small part by the huge number of apps available to users. These handy little add-ons make life easier; there are apps for grocery shopping, banking, social networks and pretty much anything you can think of.

The thing is, how many of these apps are actually productive? Do they enable you to perform your job better? Does it give you the ability to work on the move in a way that hasn’t been possible since, well, ever?

Take advantage of modern technology to increase your effectiveness in, and outside, the office.  Here’s five apps which have been proven to increase the productiveness of people at all levels of business.

 

Wunderlist

Wunderlist

    Compatibility: Web, Apple and Android

    Cost: Free

    More info: www.wunderlist.com

    Wunderlist is a fantastic app for every area of your life.  As the name suggests, its main function is making lists which may sound simple but it’s incredibly useful.

    So what’s so great about Wunderlist? Well first, it’s free (although they do have paid options) and it’s extremely easy to use. You can create as many separate lists as you want, and file them accordingly to ensure your life remains organized. The iPhone app is nicely designed and easy to use, whilst they also have apps for iPad, Mac, Windows, Android and the web.  However, there are perhaps two fundamental reasons why Wunderlist stands out from the crowd.

    Wunderlist allows you access your lists from anywhere and on any device. Once you are signed up, any lists you make are saved in the cloud. So you can make a list on your computer at lunchtime and access it on your iPhone screen when you get to the supermarket in the evening.

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    This leads me to second main reason why Wunderlist impresses me so much – the ability to share with multiple users, which I frequently use at work.  For example, you can create a list of to-dos for a certain project, then if you’re out of the office you can assign tasks to other members of the team from your phone. You can then set a due date for that task and request a reminder to be sent if the task has yet not been ticked off.

    “Wunderlist is a fantastic tool, as well as being a useful, but standard, list making tool, it can also function as a piece of project planning and management software – not bad for something that costs nothing!” – Mark Hughes, Electric Dialogue

    Keeper

    keeper

      Compatibility: Web, Apple and Android

      Cost: Free

      More info: www.keepersecurity.com

      Ever had one of those days when you can’t remember your passwords? Have you had to wait until the IT department gets back to you with a replacement? Or do you just go straight for the reset button? Well this app takes that onus off your shoulders, so you can deal with the things that really matter.

      One of the great things about Keeper is its ability to synch across devices, which means you don’t have the frustration of repeatedly entering in the wrong password and locking your accounts or having to reset them. It keeps everything behind a single ‘master’ password that wipes your secrets if a hack is attempted.

      If your office has a number passwords for various tools, programs, accounts etc (as I’d expect) Keeper also has a group option. Group administrators manage the accounts and users to control what goes to whom. There’ll be no more asking around the office for the password or post it notes with passwords scrawled on stuck to computer screens.

      All in all this app enables you to work hard without having to take involuntary breaks you hunt down missing passwords.

      “When our office was broken into eighteen months ago and my desktop was stolen I panicked. Everything I owned was accessible from that note list on it. My mortgages, my shares, my savings accounts; someone could basically have accessed each and every part of my life and my business.

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      I decided something more secure was needed because I’d got too used to the simplicity of having everything in one place. Keeper was the answer to my prayers!” – Scott Seaman-Digby, Hawtrey Dene

      Speek

      Speek

        Compatibility: Web, Apple and Android

        Cost: Free (data roaming fees may apply as an internet connection is required)

        More info: www.speek.com

        Conference calling is an important part of how most businesses operate. It enables teams, and individuals, working in different offices around the world to brainstorm, plan and discuss. But it’s such a fiddly process isn’t it?

        Fortunately, there is an app for that! Speek is a specialist conference calling app that cuts out the fuss and lets you get on with the work.

        All you have to do is pick a personal link which takes the place of the traditional PIN or phone numbers. Then send it to the other callers, when when want to join the call all they have to do is click that link from their tablet, smartphone, desktop etc to join in – it’s that simple.

        There are no third parties involved, hold music or dodgy lines. So next time you’re turning your desk upside looking for the dial-in PIN or struggling to interpret the crackling voices on the other lines, remember it doesn’t have to be that way.

        It’s an app that every modern business needs; and to top it all off, did I mention it was free?

        “Being able to share information with our team, often when we are out on the road, is a crucial part of our business.  So Speek allows us to do that with minimum fuss” – Lorraine Barker, Workfish

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        Highrise

        tour-contact-redesign

          Compatibility: Web, Apple and Android

          Cost: Free

          More info: www.highrisehq.com

          Highrise is a CRM app that helps you to manage your tasks and objectives as well as those of your team. It integrates with all of your email accounts and calendars as well as tracking all of your leads and proposals. This means with you can pull in a whole wealth of information and updates wherever you are and on any device.

          A simple feature we like is the ability to link photos to our clients’ profiles as well as any LinkedIn or twitter accounts they may have – it builds up a personality of each person, rather than just a load of statistics.

          You can also custom tag companies and individuals within the system for quick and easy grouping of contacts. As we can work remotely from one another the app allows us a very quick and simple way of staying connected.

          Although the basic plan is free there are paid plans which enable you to add more users to your account, increased storage and thousands of extra contacts.

          “The Highrise app is indispensable for us as a business – it’s the first thing we look at in the morning and the last thing at night.  It allows us to get a near instant snapshot of our company activity and helps ensure that we do not fall behind with our client management.  

          It’s a vital finger-on-the-pulse of the organisation that we rely on in order to best serve our staff and customers alike.” – Michael Miller, Edison Red

          Shoeboxed

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          Organize-Receipts-Shoeboxed-Scan-Email-or-Mail-Receipts-1

            Compatibility: Web, Apple and Android

            Cost: Free

            More info: www.shoeboxed.com

            Claiming expenses can be a time consuming process, all those forms to fill out and keeping track of those receipts. Let’s just say it’s not a task for the faint-hearted.

            That’s where Shoeboxed proves its worth. This free app (a running theme I know) is great for people who frequently find themselves out and about in the name of business. It enables you to scan your receipts into your phone as you go, it then collates and organises these receipts for you.

            That’s pretty great in its self but when the time comes to generate an expenses report Shoeboxed comes into its own. It does all the work for you; all you have to do is send it – which you can, of course, do straight from the app.

            There’s also a handy feature on the app if you find yourself with countless business cards after that out of town conference. Much like the receipt function, you just scan the business card with your phone and voila, the information is pulled from the image and then stored in a personal contact list. Impressive, is probably the word you’re looking for.

            “Shoeboxed is an app that businesses of any size should be using. I don’t have to hold on to endless amounts of receipts when I’m away on business anymore or spend time putting an expenses report together when I’m back – Shoeboxed does it all for me.” Andrew Strain, No.1 Traveller

            Round-Up

            The apps on this list are generally fairly simple. Nothing extravagant or overwhelmingly complicated, they just make time consuming or inefficient tasks quicker.

            It is their usability as well as functionality that set these five apps apart from the rest of the market.

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            Published on September 25, 2020

            10 Best VPNs to Browse the Internet More Securely

            10 Best VPNs to Browse the Internet More Securely

            When it comes to digital security, public Wi-Fi networks aren’t safe enough, making it much easier for hackers to access your personal data. Whether you are studying in a library or scrolling through Facebook in a coffeehouse, it is vital to have a VPN installed on your device.

            VPNs work wonders when it comes to securing your internet connection. By creating an encrypted tunnel between a remote server run by the VPN service, they protect your personal data from prying eyes. There is a variety of VPNs available on the web, and we have collated a list of the best VPNs that stand out from the rest.

            How to Choose a VPN

            • Free trial period – Free trials allow you to try the product risk-free. The same idea technically applies to those with 30-day full refunds as well.
            • Speed – You want your VPN to be just as fast as the internet speed at home. Good quality VPNs are ones where you see little difference between those speeds.
            • Device connection – Of course, the more devices that can connect to VPNs, the better. It increases the customers’ coverage and the product’s value. You also want to consider compatibility since fewer VPNs may work for Mac or Windows only.
            • Number of servers – The number of servers determines how much capacity a VPN can handle while you are connected. The more servers there are, the more users it can handle without running into potential disconnections or slow speeds.
            • Kill switch feature – Having this feature means that your IP address isn’t exposed if the VPN disconnects for some reason. A lack of this feature is a big deal since the whole reason why you’re paying for a VPN is to hide your IP address, among other things. (Find out how to avoid getting tracked online here: Big Brother Is Watching You Online: How To Avoid Being Tracked)

            Why You Should Trust Us

            Our hand-picked VPNs are incredibly efficient and offer such distinctive features that grant you safe browsing. They outperform many VPNs in terms of both speed and security. Their primary aim is to provide you the utmost security, thus enabling you to surf the web safely and prevent any potential threat from causing harm.

            Among the best VPNs’ many unique features include split tunneling, strict logging policies, high encryption level, and availability of international servers. We have gathered them in this article to enlighten our readers and offer the best pieces of advice before you get one. Therefore, take our word for it, and if you go for a VPN mentioned below, you’d be fully appeased.

            1. NordVPN

            The most popular VPN on the market these days is NordVPN, and it’s easy to see why. It has widespread coverage, offering a selection of over 5,000 servers spanning across 59 countries.[1] Due to the high number of servers, its speed is similar to your Wi-Fi at home.

            Lifehack’s CEO, Leon, has been using NordVPN for many years and wants to recommend it for its remarkable server count in different locations with no-logs policy. The VPN perfectly works with Netflix and Fire TV stick, too.

            NordVPN is also compatible with Mac, Windows, and Linux. You can download the app onto Chrome, Firefox, Android, and Mac OS. Thanks to its massive coverage, it’s easy to connect multiple devices onto these servers.

            In terms of pricing, while NordVPN doesn’t have a free trial period, they argue that their plans are considerably cheaper than those of their competitors. For example, a one-year plan for ExpressVPN costs $8.32 per month, but NordVPN only charges $6.99 monthly.

            NordVPN has a new protocol called NordLynx that is based on WireGuard with speed benefits, though it’s still under development.[2] If you’re looking for general quality and affordability, this is one of the best VPNs around.

            Buy this VPN.

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            2. ExpressVPN

            ExpressVPN is the second-best option out there for keeping your privacy while browsing the internet. Like many other VPNs here, they will encrypt your IP address, offer vast coverage, and can have multiple devices connected to their servers.

            Compared to NordVPN, while the pricing point is higher, ExpressVPN’s biggest selling point is the number of countries that their connection covers. Depending on where you are in the world, this may be the only option you have. They have fewer servers — 160, to be precise — but they make up for the low server count by covering 94 countries.[3]

            Cost-wise, your best bet is to go with the yearly plan where they charge $8.32 a month. They also have one- and six-month plans.

            Buy this VPN.

            3. Surf Shark

            With regards to Surf Shark, you can connect multiple devices to its servers, and it’s compatible with Windows, Linux, and Mac. It is also available on Android, iOS, Chrome, Firefox, and FireTV.

            Furthermore, Surf Shark can whitelist apps and sites, letting them bypass the VPN. This, along with the lines of split-tunneling, is another feature that many VPNs offer. The difference is that Surf Shark allows you to whitelist specific apps or any website, while most VPNs will whitelist all sites or none at all.

            The other consideration for this app is the price. While lower-tier plans are more expensive compared to others, Surf Shark’s 24-month plan is priced at $2.69 a month, so it’s cheaper than even NordVPN’s equivalent plan!

            Buy this VPN.

            4. CyberGhost

            Another top-reviewed VPN is CyberGhost. They’ve been around for 15 years and have fine-tuned their offers and features to stay competitive. They provide the standard package of browsing the web and logging into accounts safely and give you access to regionally blocked content.

            The network also maintains security from hackers, malware, and phishing. Aside from that, you can connect multiple devices, and it’s compatible with all kinds of platforms.

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            What separates CyberGhost from the others is their extensive coverage. They have multiple servers, and the pricing point is still very low. It covers over 88 countries and has roughly 6200 servers for you to choose from, all while charging $2.75 for their 18-month plan.

            Buy this VPN.

            5. IPVanish

            IPVanish’s prime purpose is to give users online freedom by providing fast speeds and private connections. It’s clear that they can meet that promise as they provide many of the features that have been listed previously from their competitors.

            IPVanish is a part of SugarSync now. What is that, you may ask? It’s a cloud-based service that syncs files across devices and computers for sharing, backup, and many more. What this means is that other devices can access various files and videos so long as they are connected to your specific VPN. Furthermore, it can serve as a backup plan if you get hacked or lose your device for some reason.

            Buy this VPN.

            6. Private Internet Access

            Private Internet Access (PIA) is a remarkably generous company in many ways. Aside from the obvious features, they offer great incentives and discounts for people to try out their products. They claim to be the most trustworthy and reliable VPN around, and we believe that.

            One notable thing is that PIA offers a free two-month trial. Compared to other VPNs to this point, none have provided free trials (though all come with a 30-day money-back guarantee). On top of that, small businesses can avail of their VPN at a discounted rate. There is also the fact that their pricing plans go as low as $2.69 a month for two years, and they let you pay with gift cards.

            In terms of specs, PIA has over 2695 servers that cover 47 countries right now.

            These particular aspects make PIA unique and one of the best VPNs to consider.

            Buy this VPN.

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            7. Hotspot Shield

            Hotspot Shield is all about offering protection while you’re browsing the internet or using streaming services like Netflix. The encryption is military-grade, and its speed is ultra-fast. In truth, it is even marketed as one of the fastest VPNs.

            Hotspot Shield offers a plan that only costs  $7.99 a month; however, it’s one of the few in this list to provide its services for free. Like other Freemium apps, the free version comes with limited features. That said, it gives you a much better feel for the VPN.

            Also, take note that the encryption feature is still there, though the limitations in the free plan include connecting to one location in the US and having limited streaming options and speed.

            Buy this VPN.

            8. TunnelBear

            As unusual as a name choice for an online security protection service can be, TunnelBear is nothing short of incredible. It makes our list of the best VPNs for various reasons.

            The biggest one is that the company goes through a yearly security audit. This is notable because many VPNs don’t bother about independent audits to ensure their systems are secure and safe from any issues. This is critical as VPNs have gotten some bad reputation over the years, as TunnelBear has noted in their post about their security audit.[4] The fact that they are doing this annually ensures that nothing is being compromised.

            Furthermore, TunnelBear offers limited services for free, but even their paid plans are pretty cheap. For individuals, you’re merely paying $3.33 per month. The only catch is that you can connect five devices regardless of which paid plan you pick.

            Buy this VPN.

            9. Norton

            Norton has been on the security scene for some time, and it’s actually one of the founders of the internet security industry. It started with virus and malware protection in 1991 and has since branched off to other sectors as the industry has shifted.

            As you might expect from a company that’s been around for a long time, Norton provides excellent services, and a few of their other services have gone into the VPN package. In reality, Norton is the only one thus far to offer a password manager with their VPN services. They provide 50GB of cloud storage as well.

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            Norton has one of the cheapest VPNs, considering you can get their deluxe plan at $49.99 per year. That comes up to roughly $4.17 a month. It might be slightly higher than other equivalent plans, but you get a lot of extra value that makes it worth the price.

            Buy this VPN.

            10. StrongVPN

            The final VPN we want to cover is StrongVPN. Like many others, it’s great at blocking unnecessary web traffic and providing a fast and simple solution to navigating the internet without any hindrance.

            StrongVPN has over 900 servers. It is available in more than 30 countries and compatible with all devices. Beyond that, the only notable selling point it has compared to others is that it also offers Sugarsync services and 250GB of storage, irrespective of your chosen plan.

            As for the pricing, their year-long plan costs $5.83 a month, while their month-long one is $10.

            Buy this VPN.

            Bottom Line

            Getting online protection is important these days, and companies recognize this.

            With more hacks and breaches occurring every single day, the best VPNs can provide an excellent haven for many people who value their security and privacy.

            We hope that by putting together this list, you’ll be able to find the best VPN that you can trust and enjoy using. As you can see, there are several great options with no real wrong one out there. Pick the VPN that’s best for you.

            Featured photo credit: Petter Lagson via unsplash.com

            Reference

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