The best apps to boost productivity in your business27th February 2017
Apps offer you games, security, entertainment, and are so flexible that entire businesses are built around them. Naturally, those businesses have made their products so addictive that using your internet-enabled device as a tool for work has become fraught with pitfalls. How do you claim your device back from the clutches of procrastination? Thankfully, there’s an app for that. Several apps, in fact.
To do lists
These apps started out as simple listing platforms but have developed into multimedia wonders. The scope to imaginatively create, record and organise will inspire you to knuckle-down on what really matters and reclaim those lost hours spent staring into cyberspace. There are free versions but the pay plan’s upgraded features will boost productivity and pay you back in time.
Evernote is the core app of the most productive people you will ever meet. It’s the personal organiser of the 21st century, with to do lists, notepads, voice recording and photo scrapbooks all in one handy app. It’s cross-device, so everything you write and record is automatically synced and the latest update even has speech-to-text capability. For just £29.99 a year, you’ll get improved 1GB storage and offline notebook access.
OneNote is a Microsoft app that is a real alternative to Evernote. With 5GB standard storage through OneDrive, and support for Windows, Android and OS, this little app can manage a large workload. Store drawings, images and text and automatically import documents from Microsoft Office. If you are a dedicated Windows user, OneNote is a no-brainer.
These apps download directly onto your computer; it’s a handy feature that means blocked websites are locked down on all installed browsers, so there is no way of sneaking past the blocker and getting distracted. Cold Turkey is available for devices running Android, OS and Windows, and Focus is Mac-specific, but both are free. For the more impressive features you’ll have to pay a little extra.
Cold Turkey can block anything from a single web page to the entire internet and can also block apps, so no Flappy Bird means no distraction. For the paid version, expect nifty upgrades such as the scheduler tool and the break intervals tool. These let you set certain times of day to block specific apps and websites and allow you to set ‘break times’, when access to the blocked content is temporarily lifted.
Focus is dedicated to the cause. It has all the blocking capabilities of Cold Turkey – including apps, instant messages and websites. What Focus adds to the mix is its SelfControl mode. When you set the timer for SelfControl, even quitting the app and restarting the computer will not give access to blocked content. It’s Mac only, so if you run OS and don’t need the added features of Cold Turkey, consider Focus for its convenient position in your Mac’s menu bar. With easy access, you can set Focus for 15 minutes to an hour with a single click and get to work.
Quantifying progress in hours spent on a project is an efficient way to manage your workload. Visually marking time, and therefore commitment, to tasks relieves the stress of a looming deadline and a seemingly insurmountable project. Another way is to jump-start the brain early in the day and let that stimulation carry you through till evening.
Focus booster is based on the pomodoro time management technique pioneered in the 1980s. The technique is simple and with Focus booster to implement the pomodoros for you, it’s fool proof. Decide on a task and start the app. The timer is set for twenty-five minutes. When the timer goes off you take a ten minute break. After each twenty-five minute period (or ‘pomodoro’) check off a block of time. After four of these, you have earned a rest hour. With an app to organise the pomodoro technique for you, it’s simple, effective and can be used to accurately fill out timesheets.
Pindolo is an entirely different approach to time management. There are hundreds of ‘dashboard apps’ that organise your day by putting calendars, reminders, social media updates and work emails in one place but Pindolo is there to put a smile on your face. Songs, inspirational quotes and famous birthdays are just some of the daily updated content designed to entertain your brain before the day starts. It sounds far-fetched but starting the day with fun and inspiration has been shown to trick the brain into wanting to work hard and achieve positive results.
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