Hey, does this even mean anything ? Is there something like a productivity app ? And if so, you heard that there a so many out there that by the time you pick one, it’s already outdated, right ?
So… which productivity apps should you really be using ?
There’s a paradox in this digital age. We have more resources, more choice than ever, yet it becomes increasingly hard to get things done. Why ? Because of analysis paralysis. Because of choice overload. This is a real thing.
We’re in an exciting era, where everyone can do anything and everything. But everything is overwhelming. You need structure, a baseline. You also need tools that will help you get and stay organized. When facing a new undertaking or a promising project, you’d better be having a way to keep record, stay on track and plan things. You want to be all about taking action and getting things done, in the most efficient manner possible. This is what productivity is about.
So, in order to achieve that, is there a specific tool or a set of tools that are going to help us make sure we achieve maximum productivity ?
Yes, there are. Notice how I say are, not is.
But the first thing that I would recommend to anyone starting to look for tools to help them get things done is to start by picking ONE tool. Don’t start getting a dozen apps at a time, this is going to overwhelm you. Of course, you’re going to need more features later, extra functionalities, but as you’re starting, as you’re taking on a new project, one tool will do.
So what is this tool ?
I can recommend you options, but I won’t name one single tool. Why ? Because each tool has its purpose, qualities and shortcomings, that will need to be studied closely and weighted to see if they fit your specific needs. The only thing I’m sure of and can tell you is that the best tool you’ll ever use is the one which:
- You enjoy to use
- You use every day
- Get things done
I will say it again in one sentence:
The best productivity apps are the ones that you enjoy using everyday and enable you to get things done.
Now that it’s been said, let’s see a list of the most useful types of software or app that are my recommendation to you, followed each time by a handful of app suggestions.
To do lists
There’s an never-ending list of todo list apps available on the web. The only thing that is sure is you NEED to list your tasks. You don’t even have to use a digital solution. Plain pen and paper do the trick for many highly productive people. But you definitely have to have a list of the tasks necessary to achieve your goals. Unless they are extremely simple, you’re gonna need to break down your goals into smaller, more detailed tasks, and you don’t have the luxury to occupy your brain by memorizing them all.
What matters is that you need all your brain power available, all your processing abilities and clarity. And this is achieved by taking all your todos out of your head and listing them somewhere you’ll find and be able to track them.
If you’re not writing down your todos—every day—then you’re missing out on something.
Brain dumping and note-taking
Secondly, you need a place where to dump all of that’s going on in your head. Your ideas, your thoughts, your own feedback. What you learn and what you deem important and necessary. There’s too much going on around us, and too much in our heads for us not to free mental charge and dump our thoughts somewhere.
Again here, the mean is not important: pen and paper, self-recording (audio or video), using a note-taking app, anything that works for you and comes to you naturally will do.
The most important thing is to have it automatic: make it a habit. It must come as a second nature to write down or store in some form your thoughts and ideas. First, it’ll free up processing power of your brain; retaining information is not what the brain is primarily for. The brain is best used for processing info and coming up with solutions, not storing data. Second, by doing so, it’ll relieve you from the anxiety of forgetting important, valuable ideas and insights, thus freeing your mind even more from information overload.
Goal tracking, Habit tracking and Time tracking
All that matters is results. And to have results you need to improve. To improve, you need to keep track of what you’re doing, and if it’s working or not. You have to measure the effects of your actions, as well as your progress (or lack thereof, which would in turn signal you that you need to change things). If you don’t measure and keep track of the things you do, there’s no point in trying to achieve a specific goal in the first place. You might as well be navigating the ocean without a compass.
You also need—and this is hugely important—to keep track of your time. Don’t fall for Parkinson’s law. Tracking your time, and how long you spend on a task will give you insight on the way you manage your time. And managing your time, along with results, is one key component of achieving things. It lets you know wether you’re doing well or not.
Organizing your projects with a project manager
Project management, while sounding like it’s an exclusive corporate endeavor, is actually something you can use in your life, whether personal or professional, to vastly enhance how you tackle your projects and have a clear overview of them.
While they share features from to-do lists app and note taking tools, they differ from them by encapsulating both in a higher-level architecture of organization. If you find yourself regularly handling projects—and this goes from a side business to a long vacation around the world or renovating your house—then having a way to organize it into a project manager will greatly improve your experience and allow you to see things more clearly.
That’s it. There are other categories of apps, but none that are really necessary to be productive when using any one of those above. You can get pretty much anything done by using just one or a combination of the aforementioned apps.
All of them are really great tools that will help you achieve whatever you set your mind to do, it’s just a matter of taste and preference. They won’t do the job for you, of course. Like any other tool, they’re as good as who’s using them. But they’re nonetheless particularly great tools to use and work with.