Getting more done throughout your day isn’t simply a matter of sitting down and working harder. Instead, being more productive requires that you work harder on the right things, in addition to tackling them as efficiently as possible. Fortunately for entrepreneurs, there are plenty of apps out there that will help to both organize an overwhelming workload and provide the motivation needed to get things done.
The following are 10 of my favorite apps.
1. Evernote. The beauty of Evernote (which is available for free in Web, iOS and Android versions) is that it can be whatever you need it to be. Need a simple place to store notes or track thoughts as they occur? Evernote has you covered. Want to set up a complete David Allen-style “Getting Things Done (GTD)” environment inside the program? Evernote can do that too.
2. Dropbox. As with Evernote, it probably isn’t a surprise to see Dropbox on a list of recommended productivity apps. The program’s value has been pretty well established, although chances are good that even if you do have this program installed on your computer or mobile device, you still aren’t getting as much out of it as you could. To expand your usage, check out Macworld’s article on “62 Things You Can Do With Dropbox” (many of which work no matter what platform you’re using).
3. LastPass. In an age of digital insecurity, forming secure passwords is an absolute must. But who has time to remember all those different combinations of letters and numbers? If you struggle to keep your online accounts secure, LastPass can help by generating, storing and automatically recalling strong passwords for all of your Internet logins. It’s free to use on both PCs and Macs, though you’ll pay $12/year to have the premium version available for download to your mobile device.
4. Remember The Milk. Remember The Milk (RTM) is a widely used to-do list management program that’s worth a look if you’re having trouble tracking your tasks. It’s highly flexible and easily customized – and can even be used to implement a GTD-style system. The Web version and basic iOS and Android apps are free to use, though daily syncing will run you $25/year.
5. Wunderlist. If RTM lacks in any one area, it’s visual appeal. So if you’re a more graphically inclined entrepreneur, take a look at Wunderlist – a perpetual favorite on lists of the best task trackers. The program is easy to navigate and can be used to quickly and efficiently track important tasks from within its free desktop, Web, iOS and Android versions.
6. Things. Although Things is only available on Macs and within Apple devices, it still warrants a mention on this list, given how intuitive the program is to use. While some users find that the RTM interface has a learning curve to fully utilize, Things makes it easy to start tracking items on your to-do list as quickly as possible. And, as an added bonus, it’s totally free to use!
7. Instapaper. Coming across interesting articles is one of the best parts of the Internet – and one of the worst things for your overall productivity levels. Instead of reading through new posts whenever you encounter them, save them to your Instapaper account. Your selected webpages will be automatically saved for later browsing, when they’ll be displayed in a reading-friendly format on your computer, iPhone, iPad or Kindle, for free.
8. Yast. Nearly all professionals can benefit from some type of time-tracking program – whether this type of tool is used to report billable hours back to customers or to simply measure how working hours are being spent. Yast provides an incredibly easy-to-use solution (just press the “Play” button to start tracking time to a specific account) that’s free to use for personal time tracking. Business accounts for entire teams are available as well, starting at $14/user per month.
9. Focus Booster. Plenty of entrepreneurs use the Pomodoro Technique (which alternates 25-minute long working blocks with short breaks) in order to maintain sustainable, long-term productivity. And while there are plenty of different Pomodoro timers out there, one of my favorites is Focus Booster. The app is free to use and provides a simple way for business professionals to stay focused over long periods of time.
10. LeechBlock. If you find that the Pomodoro Technique alone isn’t enough to maintain productivity (which, let’s face it, isn’t that much of a challenge in today’s digital world of easily-accessible distractions), you may need to call in the big guns. In this case, you need LeechBlock, a Firefox add-on that allows you to lock down specified websites. It’s easily customized to suit your unique working habits, and even provides a helpful reminder to get back to work when you stray to one of your blocked sites.
These are just a few of my favorite productivity apps. If you have others that you couldn’t get through the workday without, share your recommendations below!