Modern life is weird. We’re awash in conveniences, yet our time has never been more cramped. We’re spoiled with choices, but all the decision-making just stresses us out. For some of us, it’s downright paralyzing.
I’m pretty sure our ancestors did not wake up in bed and check their calendars on parchment. They did not need org charts to make shoes. And nobody stressed out about managing their mail.
But we do. And we have to. The pace of life today is fast – the demands are intense. The struggle, as we like to say, is real. The ability to get stuff done is a practically modern day superpower – if you have it. And if you do have it, you want more of it.
None of this is going to change. Despite the stress, most of us love the benefits of the modern world. We’re addicted to our phones – by choice. We crave the next new thing.
So if you’re going to live this modern life – if you’re going to love it, and seize it and claim your destiny, why not embrace all the crazy demands? Why not try to achieve superhuman productivity? Even if it means to improve everything you do, marginally?
If you’re up for it, these apps can help.
The most essential productivity apps simply help you manage your to-do list. According to general consensus, these are the best.
This task manager also lets you share your to-do list with others. So if you and your partner need to plan a vacation or optimize a grocery run, you’re set. It also lets you save web pages for later, or store files. There’s a free basic version.
This has all the usual task management and calendar management features, plus a way to save articles and Google docs to read later, and a way to manage Amazon gift lists. 6 million users can’t be wrong, right? Free.
Any.do even beats ToDoist – it’s got 15 million users. Cool features include being able to add tasks by voice or its ability to talk to other apps (à la IFTTT)
Trello’s hard to define… mostly because it’s so darn flexible. It does work as a task manager – and very well. But you can also use it as a content development management system, as an event planner, or for almost anything else.
Just for my two cents: If I could only use ten apps, Trello would make that list.
Information organization and retrieval
We can’t keep it all in our heads. Not our to-do lists, or our calendars, or even the list of articles we want to read later. But it’s okay. That’s what apps are for.
In terms of productivity killers, not being able to access your files comes in right at the top of the list. So don’t let that happen. With the Dropbox app, you can have access to a massive data storage area.
Want even more productivity out of this? Use IFTTT to set up recipes so your files are automatically sent to Dropbox.
6) Google Drive
This is, of course, similar to Dropbox. Depending on which tool your team uses, one may be better or worse than the other. I like having both, just for the flexibility, and so I can work with different teams easily.
Compiling research? Putting together a business plan? Marketing plan? Vacation plan? Evernote can help. Thousands of people consider this one of their 5 essential digital tools.
Also check out Evernote scannable.
Don’t like Evernote? Check out Scrivener – especially if you’re a writer/researcher.
Wanna clean up your inbox? Switch some of your email subscriptions into RSS feeds on Feedly. Then read to your heart’s content – and search more accurately for content than you can in Gmail.
No internet connection? No problem. Fill up your Pocket account so you can read and research offline.
This is a free app that lets you create and manage relational databases from your phone. Don’t know what a relational database is? Well, basically, it’s a spreadsheet – but in 3D.
I’ll try to restrain my enthusiasm for this tool. But honestly? AirTable is my favorite new tool of 2016. That they have an app just makes it even better.
Content creation and promotion
You can’t do as much content creation with a phone as you can with a laptop, but with these tools you can probably get more done than you’d expect.
11) Word Swag / Phonto
If you can make social media images on the go, the list of tasks you can accomplish gets much longer. You can create social media updates, create quote-images from blog posts, make blog post headers – the list goes on. Either of these two apps can get the job done.
Wait! Before you skip over this as being self-serving – ask yourself: How many times have you sent an email campaign out, only to wonder how it was doing later on, when you were away from your computer? Or how many times has your boss asked “How’s that email doing?” and you couldn’t answer.
That never has to happen again.
This co-sharing platform can help you reach a larger audience for your content. But how is it productive? Share a post from their database whenever you’ve got a down moment – it’ll translate into more shares for your own content.
14) Google SEO apps
Got a big promotion running? Just published a guest post on a blog with a huge audience? Sometimes it’s really nice to know what’s going on with your site when you’re mobile. Either of these apps can help.
Think of these as “the glue” – the apps you might not think of immediately, but that work silently in the background of your day, making things happen.
Ever been working remotely, happily plugging along, only to realize you need to access an account… that you can’t remember the password for? Sure, you can go through the password restoration process. But if you’re on deadline, or about to get on a plane, that gets stressful. So skip the stress: Have all your passwords with you and safe at all times.
I can’t really mention working with teams without including this one. Some people are more tethered to Slack than they are to their inbox.
This free automation tool lets different apps, services and websites talk to each other. That means you can set it up to run simple tasks. And with the app on hand, you can manage them from your phone, too.
Apps for audio
Phones were made for listening. Ends up, using them for listening to phone calls was barely the beginning.
18) iTalk / Smart Voice Recorder
Got a podcast? Want to record a clever conversation you’re having with a peer – maybe to use on your blog? With either of these installed, you can capture your brilliance fast.
19) GetResponse Webinars
Not at your desk, so you can’t make that webinar? Not anymore.
There are thousands of webinars and presentations on BrightTalk.
No time to read all those business books? Listen to them.
22) A dictation app
Got an idea? Or maybe something to say that could be made into a blog post? Dragon can capture your ideas instantly and convert them into words. This is especially awesome if you drive by yourself a lot. When you’re on a plane, it’s a little less socially acceptable to talk to yourself.
23) TED talks
For when you need 20 minutes of inspiration. Or for when there’s nothing inspiring on BrightTalk or Audible.
Want to interview someone over the phone and get a recording? This is your app.
Personal finance apps
Money snafus can really muck up productivity. It takes a long time to walk from the airport.
25) Mint or Sumptus
These are the classic expense and income trackers. They also let you set budgets and even split a purchase across two categories. They’re a life saver during tax time.
Sumptus for iPhone.
26) Acorns or Digit
To save your money. Both these apps automatically snitch a little money from you at a time, then stow it away in a saving account or a stock fund. If you’ve been finding it impossible to “set some aside” every month, try these.
Digit for iPhone.
Personal development productivity apps
It takes an optimal you to be optimally productive.
A meditation app. Lots of smart people are getting on the meditation wagon to maximize their productivity (and to think more clearly and creatively).
28) Deep Sleep
Because you’ll be far more productive if you could just get to sleep on time.
29) Apps to build a habit
Productivity often comes down to good habits. Any one of these four options can help.
30) Your favorite productivity app – the one I haven’t mentioned here
What is it? Give a shout out for your favorite productivity app in the comments.