10 Productivity Tools to Free Your Mind and Save You Time
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We all want to be productive and have more time to do the things we love.
Being more productive is mandatory to fit in more sleep, more exercise, more reading, more relaxing, less multitasking. With the right tools and equipment, we can become more productive, organized and efficient. Productivity tools help simplify daily tasks. They can consist of note-taking tools, list-making tools, time-keeping tools, to-do tools, organization tools, calendar upgrades, fitness apps, writing and journaling apps, reading apps, news apps, navigation, etc. all to help make you more productive and save time during your already busy day.
I listed the following “top 10” list in alphabetical order – I decided that choosing a favorite for number “one” was just too difficult! These are tools that I use every day to free my mind and save me time (and they are fun to use too!)
AnyList is my favorite grocery list app of all time. I use the free version. You can create as many lists as you’d like to organize by store or even by the occasion. For example, I have a general “grocery” list, a “home depot” list, and a “trader joe’s” list. You can create “favorite” lists – this way you can just open your list of favorites and tap on the items you want to add to your current list.
AnyList suggests everyday grocery items as you type, and your items are automatically grouped into categories like Dairy, Meat, and Frozen Food, which makes walking through the stores so much easier (and you can also create custom categories.) I love that when you place something in your cart you can tap on the word/item once and it strikes through with a red line and moves it to a completed folder. AnyList allows you to record item quantities, or add notes to an article like the brand, flavor, or availability of a coupon. The app remembers anything you enter on this list – You can also use Siri to add an item to your list!
AnyList lists are all backed up via the cloud – your files are available to you whenever you need them. Love this app!
Dropbox is online storage for your files, documents, photos and other data that you can access anywhere (you can even view your files when you are offline). You can also use Dropbox as a way to share files for collaboration, as well as to upload new material. Dropbox syncs with all of your different devices – and combining that with offline viewing, it is likely you will have access to all of your documents and information at all times. I use the Dropbox Plus program. I am confident knowing that Dropbox is a safe place to keep all of my information. I cannot tell you how many external hard drives have died on me.
Ok, three. I have had three external hard drives die, and the device lost all of my information. Blech.
Evernote is one of the top digital note-taking platforms, allowing us to take and upload notes, pictures, audio, and video snippets – and organize them into notebooks that can be synced across many different devices (so you never have to worry about losing your valuable notes and documents.) Evernote allows you to share notes, as well as search within them to find what you're looking for quickly.
The app lets you take actual notes in several formats: text, drawings, photos, video and audio, PDFs, web clippings, etc. You can scan documents, drawings and handwritten notes with your camera phone. It also allows you to annotate images. You can use a passcode to provide more security to your account.
Without sounding dramatic, but sounding dramatic? I cannot imagine my life without Evernote. I am an Evernote Premium member. I have written an article about Evernote that you can see here.
I have the Fantastical 2 calendar app on my iPhone, and it is my MOST favorite calendar app! (One-time fee of $4.99 in the iTunes app store.) It’s “joyful” looking, which may not be important for some, but when you are looking at a calendar every day, I believe it should reflect a happy, mindful life!
This calendar app has wonderfully creative features to manage your dates and events. It shows a clean and clear presentation of your events in daily, weekly and monthly views – and is backed up by an easy reminder system. There is light/dark mode, landscape view, and so much more.
For simple searching in Fantastical, you only have to pull down on the day ticker or calendar to reveal the search box, and instantly locate your events. You can even focus your search on title, location, or invitees.
Fantastical's language engine is so smart – you can write as you would speak to an assistant. For example: type in “Field Hockey game in Somers on Tuesday at 6 pm.” Fantastical will enter “field hockey, in the subject line, “Somers,” in the location, and will enter this information on the next Tuesday at 6 pm. This app also recognizes holidays, days of the week, the location of your events, repeating events, and more!
IFTTT is the app I use to automate tasks on my iPhone – This is the most fun productivity tool! (and it's free.) The app comes with “applets” that allows you to connect the apps you use every day to IFTTT to make life easier and in so many ways just plain fun!
The following is a list of some of the tasks I have programmed into IFTTT:
- Is it going to rain today? Send me a reminder to bring an umbrella
- Get a notification if there will be snow tomorrow
- When the I.S.S. (International Space Station) passes over your specific location (like home) get the notification (not kidding! see image below…)
- Automatically email yourself your iPhone screenshots
- Add your Alexa to-dos to Evernote
- Set the Alexa alarm and your phone will ring when it goes off
- Get an hourly notification reminder to drink a glass of water
- Save NASA's astronomy picture of the day
I have used the LastPass Premium app for over a year now, and I cannot imagine life without it. We all know it's hard to memorize multiple passwords and sign-in information, and we also know that with the increase in cyber security breaches it is not safe to have the same login information for every site we use on our computers and phones.
The LastPass Premium app is a password vault, a secure password generator, and a browser all rolled into one. LastPass includes unlimited cross-device password vault syncing to all of its users, free of charge. Once you are signed in with your master password, you have access to all of your other sign-ins and passwords. This app, for me, is an extraordinary time saver at its core, along with being a great password keeper.
I use my Overcast app every single day. I listen when I am getting ready for work, and on my drive to work. Smart Speed and Voice Boost are the most popular reasons that Overcast makes it onto many top ten lists, not just my own (and it's also free.) Smart Speed can pick up extra speed without distortion, so you don’t even realize how much time you are saving. Voice Boost normalizes volume so that everything you listen to is loud and clear. I don’t even need to crank up the volume in my car.
The playlist options are what I love most about this app. You can create filters, show priorities, and make rules. You can reorder however and whenever you want. You can share episodes quickly within the app. New episodes will be automatically added to a playlist if you choose to set it up that way. I have different categories of playlists so I can find and listen to podcasts easily.
Pocket is essentially a “read-it-later” service. When you are in the middle of something and see an article that you would like to read, but you do not have the time to read it, just click the pocket button and save it to read offline later.
Pocket allows you to select and save articles, pictures and videos for later viewing. Pocket is an excellent productivity tool and an invaluable way to stay organized. Depending on the version you have, you can create tags to keep everything super organized, or even listen to articles with text-to-speech.
I use Rise every weekday! It is the easiest alarm clock I’ve ever used, and the custom Rise melodies have worked for me for years –
Tap the screen to snooze – or pull the screen down to turn off the alarm. You can create repeating alarms; you can create multiple alarms. The clock displays in portrait or landscape mode. The Rise app never disappoints! It is a simple yet robust way to wake up in the morning!
P.S. I LOVE the Rise melodies because they are soothing to wake up to, not too soothing that they put you back to sleep, and then you don't have one song stuck in your head the whole day!
Ulysses is by far my most favorite writing tool. Ulysses is an amazing writing app/text editor with a simple but incredibly useful user interface that is designed to support your writing and seamlessly syncs with the Mac version. It works well for writing blog posts, articles, and even books! You can export to PDF, Word, HTML, ePub, WordPress and more.
I am using Ulysses to type this article!
We use tools and apps to reduce wasted time and increase productivity.
We need and want productivity tools to be easy to use. (Or why call them productivity tools in the first place?) Apps can help you plan, communicate, and manage projects and tasks; personally as well as for your business. There are many tools out there, and so many articles and advertisements for tools/apps that all seem to do the same thing – it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Please use this list to get started trying out some simple and helpful productivity tools –
Do you have any suggestions for apps or tools not on this list? Please tell us about it in the comment section below! We'd love to hear from you…