Ever had this feeling on a productive Monday morning that you have so much energy and willingness to achieve all you want this week and on Friday night you look back in despair at your crammed to-do list which only has half the items crossed out?
Have you read dozens of blog articles and gone through the whole productivity section of your apps market looking for the next big thing to help you with your productivity?
As much as I love my phone, I usually end up realizing it’s more of a productivity killer than a real help. Indeed, most of us are so addicted, every single notification makes us jump out of our work and check this super important… newsletter from this website we ordered from a few months earlier. After a moment like this, I put my phone on plane mode and swear never to check it during productive working hours again, and then I miss an emergency call from my boss and ruin the day at the office. Seems like I should get a phone « just for calls and texts » as my mum phrases it.
So, is going back to good ol’ pen and paper and Nokia 3310 really the solution to being more productive? Maybe not. Just the other month, as I was wishing my business seasoned uncles a happy 2016 and updating them on my projects for the year to come one of them answered me « I’d really like to know how you fit all of this in 24 hours; I know you don’t have kids yet but I’m really impressed. »
And as I was wondering what to answer, I realized that I was actually sitting in the bus, using some otherwise idle time to go answer this email, saving time at home to do something I love. And all this is thanks to my phone, mobile data and numerous productivity apps. Even if smartphones & laptops definitely are great distractions, they are our best allies in being more productive.
Now, you might be wondering why you should care to spend time reading this article?
You probably already read productivity articles on the best productivity apps and you’re probably asking yourself if this one won’t be just a repetition of what you read before? This article is slightly different than the others that mainly focus on work-related productivity apps. This one extends the definition of productivity apps to various domains. Indeed, being productive isn’t only about being a killer in the office, it’s also about being healthier, doing house chores more efficiently and basically doing anything you don’t want to spend too much time on faster (and why not add easier and better?).
Sleep is key to your productivity. Being tired makes your brain slower and definitely makes you ineffective. Every doctor and scientist stands by it, better sleep is the one key to a better life and better productivity. However, sleep is something that is definitely hard to monitor and control because, well, you’re asleep and not conscious of what is happening whether around you or within yourself. Thankfully, there is no need to go to the hospital and wear funny-looking electrodes to know how you sleep and how to improve it. Your best friend in your pocket (no, it’s not Google) knows how to do so.
- Glimmer: If the only way you sleep is in a pitch black room and each morning you either fumble around your room in half-sleep or blind your eyes with a sudden flow of lights from your ceiling bulb then this app is the one you need. It wakes you up using your screen to reproduce daylight at the desired time to wake up, adding up some light bird and nature sounds on the go. If you’re worried that this won’t take you away from the softness of your sheets, loud noise plays as last resort, making sure you get out and have a wonderful day. No snooze, no waking up your lover with tasteless alarm sound, in short, the one app which makes waking up less of a godly test every morning.
- Morning Routine: Your colleague keeps bragging about his new routine that has helped him achieve so much more, that he now has a clear mind and can do whatever he likes without feeling overwhelmed, and you keep trying to have a routine without getting it; too much hassle, too much change and unknown parameters in your life. Well, again, your phone becomes your morning best friend. You set up what you want your routine to look like and this small app helps you achieve it every morning. Within a couple weeks, you can also brag to your colleague about how productive you’ve become thanks to a morning routine.
- Alarmon: Waking up is definitely not the funniest part of the day, but what if it was? Alarmon makes sure it becomes an enjoyable moment, with super cute animal characters, fun sounds and challenging mini-games to stop the alarm it makes sure you don’t fall back asleep and hit snooze, but it also makes sure your first moments of consciousness are filled with fun and cuteness. As a bonus, your pretty character of the day gives you the weather so you choose your clothes right!
- Sleep Cycle: Waking up for sure is the hard part of sleep, but why is it that some days you wake up tired after 9 hours of sleep and the other you wake up super energized after only 6 hours? « Elementary! » would say our dear Sherlock; your sleep is not just a straight line; it goes through cycles which last between 80 and 250 minutes depending on people with different phases of light and deep sleep. Waking up in the middle of those cycles, especially in the deep sleep phase is what causes hard times waking up. Sleep Cycle not only monitors your sleep and analyzes your cycles with their different phases, it also wakes you up at the right moment. Set up your wake up time and a time span (ideally 30mn) in which the app can wake you up if it fits your cycles better and you’re good to go for a restful night! Only inconvenient if your partner has a very loud snoring, it can mislead results and show way less sleep than you actually get, but the wake-up function works just as good.
- Pzizz: Before waking up and starting all your beautiful morning routine and assessment of your sleep, the question arises as to how you can first fall asleep? If like me, your once-in-a-while stare-at-the-ceiling-after-a-stressful-day became a habit, you’ll love this app. It’s full guided meditation and music really helped me (and will help you I’m sure) fall asleep faster. Bonus: it has a nap module with a built-in alarm so you can get powered up over lunch break. It even has an offline mode so you can use it anywhere, very handy when you’re traveling and need to be fresh and ready to go to work when you arrive!
- Brain wave: This one is definitely for the geeks. This sleep and nap app uses your own music whether from iTunes or Spotify and some built-in sounds to get you to a desired mood or state. Its design is definitely not a strong point but it’s efficient and has a lot of possibilities for you to choose duration, method, mood, etc. I really like it because I can just do whatever I want with it, it almost feels like coding your own relaxation and sleep app.
- Omvana: If you’re a bit into meditation, I’m sure you’ve heard about Omvana, which is developed by Mindvalley; and if it works for those people amongst the most inspiring on the planet why not for you, right? To me, it’s a classical meditation and relaxation app, but it’s probably one of the best out there. Its meditation tracks are brilliant and the ebook and different inspiring resources from Mindvalley that comes with it definitely make it great.
Phone saver apps and tips:
Using all these productivity apps for sure uses a lot of battery and while iOS has created « power-waving » mode in its latest versions when your phone hits 20% remaining battery, it’s hard to keep our phones performing all day and all night to support us. So here are a couple productivity apps which help me save battery life and stay productive even with a low battery.
- B&W for iPhone: Bigger screen, brighter colors, our phones use most of their power in screen light. And there is a small revolution that occurred already a couple years ago in the iOS 6 update; the possibility to put your phone screen in black and white, saving up to 30% of power. To set it up: go to settings > general > accessibility > greyscale. And you’re good to go for a couple hours more!
- Battery Doctor: having apps running in the background, or a full cache can definitely use up precious power uselessly. Battery Doctor, in its orange version, has 2 useful features in its « Memory » and « Junk » sections which clean cache data you don’t need anymore. It’s a very useful app, especially for those of you who have older phones with smaller memory as it can free some useful mega to take that selfie with your girlfriend or downloading this attachment to work on it from a colleague.
- Pen & Paper: This might sound silly, but really, when your phone dies and there is no plug around, always having a notebook and a pen on your desk and in your bag does save your productivity. Of course, it’s great to have all those apps but relying solely on our power-dependent device can make us super unproductive when they’re not there to help us. So use this savvy tip, keep a notebook and a pen near you at all times, they will never fail you if your power goes out! PS: don’t look for it on the App Store, it’s not there!
- Search iPhone: search iPhone is a built-in app that has an extremely powerful keyword and research system. It really allows me to find anything on my phone. And the only thing is: you just need to turn it on in the settings!
- Google chrome: When chrome is your default browser on your computer and has all your passwords saved and your history and everything connected to your Google account, having this app on your mobile is golden, everything is saved and works just like on your computer, a real time saver, considering how annoying typing passwords on a phone can be
- Skyfire: I love my iPhone, but sometimes I curse these Cupertino close-minded jerks who prevent me from seeing a flash website on my phone. Skyfire is the one solution to the one problem Android users don’t have; taking advantage of your iPhone without suffering from the disadvantages.
All productivity gurus and articles keep repeating this: getting organized is key to being productive and keeping a good work-life balance. And there are so many productivity apps around there that we don’t even know which to download. A short overview of my favorites might help you find your new best way!
- Phone reminders: If you belong to those of us who get attached to their smartphones and are not willing to change it for the latest shiny model, you probably find yourself facing the challenge of available memory on your phone. With apps being more and more powerful, hence heavier, it’s sometimes hard to keep your phone functioning properly. So, instead of throwing away your beloved smartphone, you can just delete all the heavy calendar apps and use the one already built-in your phone. Whatever your smartphone, there is definitely a reminder and a calendar app integrated within the Operation System. These apps, although they might not be the fanciest are (for most platforms) easy to use and do most of the tasks you’d expect from them. And you can’t get rid of it anyway, so it seems smart to make use of this otherwise lost space.
- Wunderlist: Find you phone’s to do’s app bland and wish your colleague could also receive notifications on tasks you set? Wunderlist is a freemium multi-platform reminder app that allows you to set your tasks with specific deadlines, organize them in lists, send reminders and even share tasks and lists of tasks with other users. The free version is super powerful and the multi-device integration really makes me feel super productive, no matter if I’m working on my tablet at home, on my phone on the way or on my computer in the office.
- Google Keep & Calendar: Quite an unknown Google app, Google Keep is a useful complement to Google Calendar. While the latter allows for easy and clear scheduling of meetings and activities, inviting colleagues and family to see or participate in your booked slots, its to-do is definitely not optimized. Google Keep allows you to keep multiple to-do lists and integrates them seamlessly into all your other Google apps. Free and easy, as always with Google.
- do: Just like Wunderlist, Any.do is a classical to-do app. Its design is slightly more modern to my taste. It synchronizes with Dropbox and you can also assign tasks to family/colleagues. Really, it’s a matter of preference between the two, they’re both great!
- Habitica: I cannot recall the countless arguments I’ve had with my younger brother about the importance of using a calendar and a to-do app to manage time properly. But as he would put it « it’s too boring to be useful » and to a certain extent, he’s right; how many of you see that paperwork task set on your calendar and feel like « hmm, I’ll just do it later because it’s not fun ». Habitica will not make paperwork fun – I don’t think anything can, and I come from bureaucratic France – but it’ll definitely make fulfilling the task fun. Habitica is a “to-do game », you embody a small character, progressing through winning points by completing tasks, or losing points if your task is not completed or is completed late. For all of you who need a playful incentive to respect your calendar, Habitica will definitely do the job. Available on iPhone & Android, freemium
- Tempo: Remember that situation when your meeting with an important customer is saved in your calendar, the location is saved as well but you arrive late because you miscalculated the time it would take you to get there? Tempo smartly integrates traveling time (with an update on traffic!), weather information and other useful environmental data which allows you to control almost all parameters to make all your scheduled meetings go as planned. And not having to use multiple apps to get all of that info is definitely a productivity gain!
- Momentum: Creating a routine requires a lot of willpower and a lot of help to keep you motivated. Remember that promise you made to your mum to eat more veggies for your health? You find it hard to keep up? While Morning Routine solves this problem for mornings, Momentum is a more general app that helps you keep track of all your routines every day. Its flat design and helpful reward system makes it easy to keep up and make your life more productive thanks to routines!
If there is one area of our lives where productivity matters it’s our work. Indeed, it has a direct influence on our revenue and our free time, but also to the quality of what we do and thus our mood. And so many geniuses are developing lines of code for us to use in the shape of beautiful productivity apps on our phones, it would be a pity not to use any!
- Genius scan: Scanning documents has become a daily operation in our ever-more digital world. But as we move and travel more, I usually find myself short of a scanner to scan important documents and email them fast to people. And taking a picture is not something the majority of business partners like, so what to do? Genius scan is a good solution; I use it to scan documents for my company, like invoices, and it has a black and white function, that way it looks as if you really scanned it.
- Foc.us: For those of us who like to get a bit nerdy, this is a great app and tool to experience. foc.us is an app which combined with head patches transmits waves into your brain to increase your focus. It definitely feels a bit weird, and although it’s probably not the most appropriate tool in the office, you can definitely use it at home when you need to finish that presentation. It’s worth giving it a try.
- IFTTT: That anyone who thought that the automatic publishing of Instagram photos on Facebook was genius raise their hand. If you’re like me and would like your social media to be always aligned with each other while optimizing the time you spend on each, then IFTTT is the one tool you need. Standing for « If This Then That », IFTTT allows you to connect social media together thanks to an easy « if-then » formula. Not only does it work for social media but for hundreds of apps and website. From turning on your home radiators when you leave office until sharing your latest Facebook posts on twitter automatically, IFTT is definitely an all time favorite
- Evernote: Whatever their job, everyone needs a powerful note app. One on which you can record any media from music to PDF docs, that you can organize in folders, have keywords, make presentations from, set reminders etc. Do I still need to introduce an app you’re probably using better than me?
- Small PDF: PDF is definitely one of the coolest format ever invented, it’s safe, can be opened on any computer and will never change appearance no matter the software you use to open it. But, easy operations on any other format such as merging documents, splitting them, converting them to other formats or reducing their size become a pain if you don’t have pro software. Fortunately, a bunch of awesome people created SmallPDF, a free powerful website which allows you to perform all of these operations online in a matter of seconds. Since I’ve known about this website, it’s definitely been a time-saver.
- Google drive / slides / sheets / docs: I remember my first group presentation in college, we were a group of four, presenting a project for CSR class and I think we created at least 20 versions of our PowerPoint presentation because everyone wanted to put their mark on it. And although Facebook already had this function of « upload new version » of a document posted in a group, it quickly became a huge mess. And then, we discovered Google Drive and the slides app, which allowed everyone to collaborate flawlessly, comment on each other’s work, and keep a history of changes. And Slides isn’t the only awesome app in Google Drive, Docs, Sheets and Forms are all super useful. And there are two bonuses for these ones: first the 30GB of free storage Google offers you on its cloud to store any file you need, second the countless add-ons developed by 3rd parties that make them even more powerful and give them, even more, functions.
- Dropbox: That one time when you have a project with another company and they don’t trust Google apps! Dropbox is a similar service; a collaborative cloud storage solution. It has less apps, it’s maybe more to the point of sharing a word document and updating it collaboratively with the other team. It shares the same features as Google drive and has interesting business solutions. My colleagues in Germany swear by it. Simple and helpful.
- Trello: That one time when I had a team of 8 to organize a 4-day conference for 230 people and we had to think of everything from delegates room assignation to trainers material and meal prep while feeding social media and ensuring sleep for everyone, Trello proved super useful. It’s a team-based organizer in which you can create to-dos, set deadlines, upload documents and assign to-dos. Its dashboard makes it easy to navigate and know in seconds what the priorities are for the day. As always, free and synchronized on all devices!
- Podio: In need for a CRM but without having the financial means to invest into a pro software, the organization I was working for decided in 2014 to set up a Podio account for our business stakeholders and alumni, and it was a great progress in the management of these stakeholders, no messy sheets anymore. It’s collaborative and all customers have a page with all their information, all collaborators can have different access and editing rights. Podio allows the creation of multiple apps with which you can manage your business daily operations. It has to-dos, messages and a lot of other features, which make it a powerful tool for running daily operations.
- Slack: Look at your phone screen and check your notifications, raise your hand if your Facebook messenger is filled with messages from colleagues and multiple conversations are making you lost. Whatsapp also has its share of work-and-project-related conversations and your emails is also flooded with news and updates on projects. This situation used to make me so confused, always looking for information on different communication channels. And then my boss introduced us to Slack: it’s a team based communication app, in which you can create different channels to talk about different topics with all members of the team or only those working on the topic. You can tag people, upload documents, write posts, and put yourself into « Don’t disturb » mode for the night or your vacation. Bonus: you can insert GIFs into conversations.
- Cardmunch: I hate networking events. But it’s not because of overpriced drinks or my discomfort when pitching, it’s because I’m scared to death to lose business cards and not being able to convert all these efforts into something useful afterward. So, every networking event has a routine, when I come back at 10pm, slightly tipsy, I open my contacts and sit down for 1hour, updating my phone contact list with newly made contacts. Problem solved, but it’s tedious, and not the best end to an already challenging evening. Cardmunch now does the work for me. I just need to scan the business card and it’ll decipher the contacts, and automatically add it to my phone’s contact list or dozens of other apps like Mailchimp or HubSpot! Now, I don’t have an excuse not to network, and you don’t either!
- Focus Keeper: One of the productivity tips that keeps coming back on blogs is the 25-5 work pace. Work on a task for 25 minutes, take a 5-minute break and once you completed 4 cycles, take a longer break of about 20-30 min. Of course, your phone’s built-in timer does the trick but let’s be honest it could be more fun. Well, Focus Keeper does just that. It allows you to select a task, set the time and its beautiful design and simple features just make you want to focus!
- SlideCarnival: That one night when you find yourself having to prepare a presentation for an important customer and you’re clueless about how to design it; a template will be too obvious, black and white will be too bland and you playing out with colors after spending hours checking presentations on Slideshare in the design section might end up in an epic failure. Slide carnival will definitely be a life-saver, it offers a wide range of free templates that are editable from Google Slides, MS Powerpoint or Open Office. They are designed by a pro and are up to date with current design trends. As a bonus, it has free vector icons, which you can reuse for other presentations.
- Mindly: Paper and pen are awesome for brainstorming and mindmaps but then digitalization is always painful and you’re probably going to end up like me trying out things on PowerPoint with smart-art that’ll be too complex to read for your audience. With Mindly, a mind map app for smartphones, you’ll find yourself able to design beautiful mind maps in minutes. Additional trick: to put them in your presentation, just screenshot your smartphone screen in landscape mode, it will do the trick for most mind maps!
- WeTransfer: Ever tried to transfer a heavy video from your phone to someone and received that annoying notification « file too heavy to load »? I hate it. And I used to hate that this forced me to open my computer, connect my phone, transfer the video to my computer and then send it using Wetransfer. So this super useful website which allows you to send heavy files by emails (up to 2GB for free!), and their app allows you to do it directly on your phone; super handy!
- Charlie: When I was in business school, one of my friends dragged me to Business Intelligence class saying it was going to be « the most awesome class of the year ». Turned out, looking for information and stalking both people and the Internet is not my thing. So imagine when I needed to do some research for my business meetings. I’d just Google the person, check their LinkedIn provided they had anything public of interest and then go to the meeting. I didn’t have the best closing rate. So, how does Charlie solve my problem? Well, basically, this app connects to your calendar and collects data from different social networks about the people you’ll meet, providing a 2-minute digest of all you need to know with tips for a conversation starter, or things to congratulate them about… One of the best apps in this selection!!!
Social media is a powerful tool to keep up with your loved ones, with business trends or to boost your own company’s visibility. But they’re also one of the biggest time-wasters in the world. Ever caught yourself looking at your Facebook newsfeed not remembering what you were supposed to do in the first place? Or spending hours trying to create a compilation video of your companies latest event only to have similar results to a 9th grader of 2010? Without demeaning what a 9th grader could do in 2010, there are plenty of productivity apps now to make it all pretty and easy!
- Snapseed: You just took the perfect selfie, but need a filter or to add a caption on your image before posting it on social media? Snapseed is there for you! It’s more powerful than most phones built-in image editors, more private than using Instagram directly and it’s free! Definitely one of my marketing colleagues favorite apps.
- Quik: Need to create a quick movie with pictures, animations, and music with a specific theme to communicate on social media? Quik helps you do so in seconds. Select a theme, select a picture, select the music from the app’s library or your own, add your text and captions and let the app do the work for you! Save and enjoy! Bonus: it has a weekly movie function that makes movies out of your week’s pictures to help you keep memories in an entertaining way. Best of all, it’s entirely free!
- Filmic pro: All our phones have very elaborate cameras but we only use them with default or automatic settings. Did you know you could control shutter speed and exposure? With this app, you can control everything from your camera and finally unleash your creativity.
- Page: Ever tried to manage your company Facebook page and mix things up with your personal account? It happened to me plenty of times, commenting a friend’s picture with the organization page, or publishing a post with my personal account; embarrassing situations that I could easily have avoided with the app Page. It has a lot of tools to help you analyze your data and boost your reach!
- Facebook: The one and only Facebook app, do I really need to present this application? Though, maybe I should tell you how it wouldn’t kill your productivity. Well, Facebook is definitely something that you will do on your phone, and if you don’t have the app you’ll go on their web version via your phone browser and the mobile web version is definitely not as smooth and performing as the app. So by the absurd, a faster waste of time is less waste of time! And after all, maybe you won’t even be wasting your time Facebooking, you might need to contact a prospect or a potential business partner or share something in a group, which a page doesn’t allow you too! That’s what the app is for!
- Twitter: Twitter is definitely a must-have app for your public profile or for your business. The app allows me to not waste time on your laptop once in the office. Dealing with these things during commute or breakfast time for example. It offers all the needed features to tweet productively!
- Instagram: From Instababes to Instabusiness; this app just recently made it to my phone! So many businesses start using this network for marketing, and I do like to follow companies on this network, it’s less formal, more fun although superficial! But it’s also super convenient with its instant Facebook integration and one of my friend even uses it to edit all the pictures he takes from his phone without publishing them on the network. A double-use for this app, saving time and space on your phone, to make you more productive.
- Snapchat: If you think of Snapchat as sending tipsy videos of you to your best friends, for sure it might not be the most productive application on your phone. But same as Instagram, its use by businesses and companies have risen in the last couple years. It allows them to build an interaction with their customers; to have a very personal and intimate relationship with them. As a customer, I appreciate seeing « behind the scenes », as a professional myself, some of the local offices of my organization are piloting Snapchat accounts to share stories with potential customers and it received good feedback. Last but not least, receiving a crazy picture from your best friend whether in the middle of the day or the middle of the night can definitely relax you, and that little emotional break will make you more productive!
- LinkedIn: What would business be without LinkedIn? Last year, I was looking for an internship and I received weekend advice from the coolest professional I know: my dad, and he started telling me about how to write a beautiful letter and CV and to print them on special paper so you get noticed when you mail it. Yes, he was talking about actual mail, in an envelope with a stamp. Later, I went out for a drink with friends and he applied for a job with a tap of his thumb on his phone. And he got the job. This app has become an essential, something I update regularly with my articles, for example, check business opportunities whether for my organization or for myself, it allows me to also know the trends and what businesses are up to!
- Iconosquare: How would social networks be productive without you being able to measure it? Data analyzing apps are a super good help, so you can finally tell your boss you’re not « wasting time » but actually being productive. Iconosquare (renamed from Statigram) is one of the best apps for Instagram stats. It has a really clear dashboard and provides very useful insights on which posts are trending or not!
Since they were created, emails have allowed communication to become more effective, helping companies get even more productive. But in this time of endless communication, emails can be the worst productivity-killer ever. With the average US employee receiving 25 emails, providing it takes an average of 5-minute per email to process, it’s more than 2 hours per day being lost! So where are the productivity apps out there that can help you and me keep emails productive?
- Boomerang: For all of you who use « mark as unread » for inbox management because it’s simple & easy, you’ve probably got yourself in a situation where your inbox fills in with emails that require your attention not now but in the future. Boomerang is an awesome extension for your web browser, which allows you to boomerang an email to your inbox at a chosen date. It also allows you to schedule emails. I use it to send out monthly reports, which by my Job Description I need to send out every 1st of the month, but sometimes 1st of the month is on Sunday and I don’t really want to work on that day, even just for one email. So, I just write the email on Friday and schedule it for Sunday. No more excuses to-be on my computer during Sunday brunch! Finally, it can also boomerang emails to recipients if they haven’t received it in a certain timespan, like a reminder. Super handy when your head is a bit full and you forget to send reminders to people who forgot to answer!
- Sidekick/Mailtracker: I had a colleague last year who never replied to my emails despite all my efforts, and every time I was asking him whether he had read it he told me the email got lost or went to spam or some other BS excuse. That worked for me until I found about Sidekick and Mailtracker. These 2 apps that you connect to you Gmail or other email account send you a report on who read your emails and even who clicked on the links & opened the attachments.
- Hemingway: Based on Hubspot’s research on email effectiveness, the most effective emails are the ones that are written in 3rd Grade language. That means avoiding complex vocabulary and lengthy sentences. As someone who’s particularly fond of 19th-century literature which fancied this writing style, this is one of the worst flaws I have: I like to make things fancy; but it’s totally counter-productive. Hemingway highlights my long sentences and suggests ways to reduce them. Super handy if like me you want to sound bold and clear rather than fancy and over-complicated.
- Just not sorry: I have a secret to tell you: I’m still a student and although I already have some professional experience. Most of my emails to partners and older or more experienced colleagues have a very distinct « fresh out of college » style. That’s long to say submissive. My friend who works in Business Development and sales told me « They’ll never treat you as an equal if you don’t write to them as if they’re your equals » and then I discovered Just Not Sorry. This browser expansion reads your emails as you type them and suggests ways to sound less apologetic and more self-confident. And now, even my banker respects me!
- Grammarly: One of my favorite productivity hacks. Even the best of us have our bad grammar days and built-in auto-correct tend to mostly focus on spelling, not on grammar. So they won’t notice the difference between « they’re », « their » and « there « , but your VIP partner definitely will. Grammarly is a browser extension that’ll analyze what you write, underline potential mistakes or possible alternatives. And if like me your grammar-obsessed English teacher from high school made your grammar a reference in the office and you have your colleagues (or boss) ask you to double check important emails before they’re sent, showing them this app will considerably decrease the amount of time you spend checking their grammar. I saved around 1h a week just by showing this to my team of 6 people
Fun & Leisure
Every productivity expert will tell you that fun and leisure are as important to being productive than work. So, how can your best friend help you have fun outside of work and get a well-deserved break to boost your mood and your productivity?
- Places I’ve pooped: I happen to share a flat with 4 guys this year and what I’ve learned was that toilet-time was an essential part of their daily routine. They started using this app to mark all the places, bars, clubs, museums, etc. where they pooped. It’s like a travel map. It’s useless but it’s tons of fun for them! So why not for you?
- Cutest animals: Always looking for pictures of super cute pets to boost your mood on a bad day? You’re right, some research has shown it had a positive effect on your mood and thus to your productivity. So, you can definitely download this app on your phone and indulge into a productive break
- Great lightsaber: This is another secret for you: I have never seen any of the Star Wars movies, and I’m not particularly a Sci-Fi fan. However, I do love to use that app for fake lightsaber fights with my marketing manager during break time at the office. Going back to such childish games really releases stress and helps me focus better at my job, until the next fight!
- Pocket: There is so much good content out there on the Internet, that I always have that frustration that I’m never able to read all of it. But then, in my times of boredom, let’s say in the plane, I cannot access this content because, of course, my devices are on « plane mode ». Pocket allows you to save online content with one tap and makes it available offline. The tags you add to your content when saving it, makes it easy to organize and get around what you saved. This first prevents me from wasting time reading super interesting stuff when I’m not supposed to, but also makes my bored time more meaningful; that’s a double-productivity hack!
- Feedly: I love to use Pocket for random stuff I like to read but there are a lot of sources that I consult on a daily or weekly basis because I need to keep some updates on what is happening in the different places and fields and feedly allows me to do just that. Basically, it allows me to subscribe to RSS feeds and to a lot of different sources and to organize them in collections. The power of the community also allows you to see from the sources you subscribe to which are the most popular reads. Paid versions allow for super good integration with other services such as Slack & IFTTT.
- Spotify: I have become very fond of Spotify. Music definitely helps me focus and manage my mood depending on what playlist I play. While I was used to uploading my CDs or to download music on my iTunes accounts, Spotify made the whole process of listening to music from my phone so much easier and faster. Bonus: unlike listening to music on YouTube, you can use your phone while music plays and the « available offline » of the paid version which allows you to take your music literally anywhere as long as your battery is on.
- YouTube: No need to introduce what YouTube does I guess. However, for me, it’s an essential app for fun & leisure. I use it for cooking tutorials in my kitchen, showing that latest video to my friend and of course following my favorite YouTubers; people I value for their insightful opinions or for the exhilarating fun they provide me with.
- Stylicious: I am a girl, and like any girl, a few mornings a week, I stand in front of my closet with an empty mind wondering « what am I going to wear today? » . And it can be both a real pain and waste of time. Stylicious allows me to take a picture of all the pieces of clothing in my closet, and to create outfits, a community of stylists can also help me design the best combinations for an event. Very handy not only for fashionista but for anyone wondering what to wear in the morning.
- HAPPIER: I’m French and as a French person, I love to complain and to criticize my day and to be overall pessimistic. But that is definitely not helping me being happy and productive. Happier is my pocket friend to gratitude journaling. It helps me remember the moments I should appreciate even on the worst days. The awesome thing is that it’s built around a community so you can either keep your journaling for yourself or share it with a whole lot of other people sharing the same values and struggle.
- Schulte grid: Since I can recall, I was never confident with catching any flying object. I spent my school years avoiding volleyball classes because I would just run away from the ball instead of sending it back. It just happens I have bad reflexes, and this has a solution. Super simple games just like this one help me get better and become more confident. I still hate volleyball, but now it’s not because I’m afraid of the ball anymore.
- Filmon: Remember when your English teacher in high school told you that immersing yourself in English culture was the best way to learn the language and made you listen to BBS podcasts? What if you could have access to all British channels, a lot of US channels, for free with all their programs without having to look up for shots on YouTube? Then Filmon is yours to download, transforming leisure time into language classes!
- Sky map: Dating is another part of leisure and people who’re happy in their relationships definitely are happier in life and more productive. This app shows the constellations in the universe by you pointing your camera at it. So of course, it’s not going to make that wonderful girl fall in love with you, but it may help you end the date on a romantic positive note! Good for your happiness and good for your productivity on the next day, unless you keep daydreaming about her.
- Duel Quiz: Having fun is good, but how about learning while having fun? This app is like a mini trivia game that you can play against your friends or a random person. It’s very nice for socializing and build connection but also to get some knowledge thanks to the questions. And that helps me both sound smart when I’m with business partners and keep socializing with my long-distance boyfriend over lunch time.
- Kindle: I don’t know about you but a good book has always helped me feel good, words have this amazing power of taking you away from trivial thoughts! However, books are heavy to carry and take a lot of space in a flat. Although libraries sort of solved that problem in the last century, e-books are definitely the number one solution technology provided us for that issue. Kindle is not just a device, it’s also an app. It allows you to read e-books easily on your favorite device without having the trouble of carrying an extra gadget for that.
- Dual N Back: If like me, you want to develop your memory to remember more things, not only for work but especially the good times, training it while having fun is possible with this visualization game.
- Shazam: There’s nothing like a good song but there’s always this moment when you hear a new song and want to know the title & artist. Unfortunately, there isn’t always someone around who knows this. Shazam is just the right app for that. It allows me to build better playlists for my Spotify to manage my mood at work, or just have better parties
- 9gag: Need a break? Need to have a good laugh! 9gag is a website and app which can lead to serious productivity problems if you open it in office. But on those rainy days when a customer was super obnoxious, I have to admit this helps me continue my job. And sharing the best Memes with colleagues definitely improves the teamwork, thus also our productivity!
Keeping in Touch:
We have more and more people we know as organizations and opportunities are worldwide and interconnected. But relationships are a really important part of our inner-balance, it’s one of the Why Not 3 Principles after all. But keeping in touch can be hard sometimes so how can your 5 inches productivity pocket friend help you achieve that?
- Messenger: As a Y generation member, Facebook has been my best friend since I’m a teenager; therefore its messaging app is definitely on my home screen. It’s handy although the new emoji design is debatable. The separate app, although a lot of people used to not like it, really allows me to focus more on the messages without the distractions of notifications from my Facebook feed.
- WhatsApp: This revolutionized the way I communicated with friends & colleagues abroad. It’s just like texts but without the expensive international costs. I like how simple it is to use and its low use of data for messages. The voice notes are also really good although a lot of other messaging apps are catching up with this trend. And bonus: you don’t need to be a friend with people to communicate with them, phone number is enough
- Line: The Asian version of WhatsApp; better design and more kawaii functions with more emojis, stickers and special GIF’s. Overall, if you work with people in Asia, it’ll be more productive to use this one rather than making them change to WhatsApp!
- Skype: Do I really need to introduce this app? Actually, yes. Personally, I use Skype on my phone way more than on other devices. The call quality is usually way better than on a computer and it’s still the one app that has been around for so long that my parents know how to use it.
- Hangouts: The online Google version of Skype. A Gmail account is needed to communicate, call quality is a bit higher than on Skype according to my own experience and I personally prefer the user experience. I love this app because it integrates with all the other Google Tools, like with Google calendar, which automatically creates a hangout link for your planned meetings with another person. So, this definitely is something I use to make my time more effective, I don’t need to switch between apps all the time.
- Couple: Those who have to be in a long-distance relationship because of work raise their hand. I guess as entrepreneurs, we’re all traveling a lot and cannot always be physically with our partner. This app is on my home screen. At first sight, it looks like WhatsApp, except the only person you can talk to is your partner, and they have tons of super cool special features like a live drawing where you can draw together and thumb kiss! This definitely helped me sustain my 6-year-old relationship during 1 year of long-distance
In an ever more connected world, traveling has become an essential part of both work and leisure and even if it’s becoming easier and smoother to move around. If not planned properly it can be a huge waste of time, productivity, and money. So let your pocket help you save all the hassle and get the most out of your travels!
- TripIt: I personally hate it when I have so many email reservations for my flight, then my bus, then my hostel, and my museum visit, and then dig into my inbox when I’m there. This app allows you to transfer all your reservations and then find it all in one place and available offline when on the spot. It’s extremely useful and definitely reduces all the data roaming!
- Google translate: When I was in China, I couldn’t speak nor read mandarin – and I still don’t to this day! – So it was very difficult to get around as very few people spoke English. The quality of the Google translation is such that I was able to show written translation to people around me. The voice & character recognition allowed me to understand what the taxi drivers were telling me – although sometimes it got funny – and to even read menus in restaurants by scanning words. So, of course, it doesn’t work offline but still it’s extremely
- Waze: When I was a kid, I remember the long rides we used to take to go on holiday with my family; to avoid traffic, my dad would turn the radio on and we would spend the day listening to traffic updates and route change suggestions. This radio station still exists but now there is a quieter and more efficient way to get all this info: Waze. It works just like any GPS app but has a very strong community feeding it info such as traffic, but also speed limits, maintenance, etc. It has become an essential app for all my carpooling experiences.
- Google maps: So, you’re in the office, you’re checking that email from a lead you need to meet and opening Google Maps to check the route. Then you leave office, get in your car or on the subway and start doubting and now you need to repeat the whole process on your phone: look through email – copy address – paste in Google maps – wait for directions. Well, the new feature of Google maps « send to your phone » makes this history; with a single click it sends the directions to your phone and opens it in the app on your phone. No more hassle or copy/pasting between phone & computer!
- Duolingo: With English being so predominant, a lot of people are questioning the use of learning other languages, but sometimes that amazing German girl you met becomes your girlfriend and she wants to introduce you to her parents who only speak German… Unlike most language apps, this one is entirely free and has a very efficient method, in 3 months with a bit of effort you can follow and participate in common conversations. For the professionals who are looking for business opportunities, learning the language of your main customer or supplier can not only save you the salary of your interpret and a lot of time, but also your business relations will improve as there’s a high chance they’ll be flattered by your efforts.
- Hopper: Comparing flight prices, taking into account date & destination can sometimes be hard. But worse, trying to predict whether prices will go up or go down between now and the following week when you get your salary transferred is just like Russian roulette with your budget. Hopper not only shows a calendar of the best dates to fly to your destination but also uses prediction algorithms that allow it to predict whether prices should go up (in this case you need to buy now) or down (in this case you should wait) in the next days/weeks.
- Blablacar: The first time I used carpooling, there was no app, just a community website where you’d meet strangers and give them cash for a ride… And then the community grew and Blablacar became not only a hippie way to travel but a shared-economy giant. Carpooling is developing at an ever-faster pace and is now a « normal » way of traveling for many Europeans. This app allows you to book or propose your trips, check & give reviews of drivers & passengers, pay for a ride and all the other features you’d expect from such an app.
- Flixbus/Megabus: There’s probably nothing better for your budget than traveling by bus. Although trips can be a bit long – 18 hours from Paris to Madrid instead of a 2-hour flight for example – the value is incredible. A lot of companies are out there whether in Europe or the rest of the world and it has become a habit for me to download the app of one I’m traveling with as it allows me to store my bookings and find them offline (handy when traveling abroad!). Of course, you can also book your trips on these apps, but first I like to compare prices using www.checkmybus.com
- RyanAir/EasyJet/Vueling: Same as for buses, airlines have their own app which allows you to book but also to find your bookings offline and avoid the printing of your ticket by using a QR code directly from your app, saves time and paper for a happier you and a happier planet!
- RATP/Underground app: Public transportation systems can sometimes be complex and planning your trip from one district to another can turn into a painful exercise. Luckily, most cities have developed easy-to-use and effective apps that help you plan your trips, choosing your means of transportation, amount of walking etc. Living in Paris, the RATP app is definitely of daily use for me but check out your city’s app, I’m sure it’s just as helpful!
- Converter+: What happens when you open an online business in Europe but have US customers? Conversion nightmares. From distance to weight and currencies, everything needs to be converted. And things like currency evolve constantly. Converter+ helps you convert all these in just one place!
- Jetsmarter: Ever dreamed of flying in a private jet? Always thought it was too expensive for you? This app might change your mind. Some of the jet seats are less expensive than a commercial flight. It is based on a community of jet owners who share their journeys and open seats to people having the same journey. It’s like the Blablacar of airplanes, the only difference being you will never have to sit at the back of a Twingo!
Finance & Daily life
Productivity is not solely intended for the office, it can cover any activity and action we undertake. And daily life can get pretty time-consuming and complicated. So, instead of enjoying life outside of work we usually spend our off-time worrying about money or other trivial problems. And there again, your inch-size gadget can help you with tons of productivity apps.
- Expensify: When managing a company or an organization’s finance, filing and processing expense report is a tedious task for both employee and finance department. Expensify allows employees to easily submit their expense report and for a finance department to approve it in the app. Smart scans of receipts and integration within accounting software are included. This definitely makes business finance more productive.
- Bank App: I’m pretty sure you have a bank, and I’m pretty sure this bank has an app and most probably you don’t use it because it’s not sexy. A lot of banks are now making a lot of efforts in revamping their apps for them to be more helpful. In addition to allowing you to see your current balance, making transfers and contacting your advisor; most of them now also have a budgeting tool, which classifies expenses and revenues and can produce an analysis and reports on how you spend your money. This was a real help when I was a student as it really allowed me to understand on what I spent money and how I could be smarter with it.
- Splitwise/Tricount: Jack paid 89$ for the gas, John paid 95$ for the first groceries and you paid 240$ for the hotel; how much does each of you owe each other? Sounds like the math exercise your 9-year-old young cousin solved last week but that takes you pen, paper, your phone calculator and 1 hour to figure out? The good news is: it’s over! With these 2 apps, you can just enter what each paid for and it’ll automatically calculate who owes what to who. I love using this app from going to the restaurant with colleagues to going on a trip with my friends or even buying common presents with the whole family on Christmas.
- Audiomemos: Although most phones have built-in voice memo recorders, their functionalities are usually limited. This app has really good quality and compression of files so you can record a whole 2h workshop with it. Very handy for customer research and interviews as well. It has helped me a lot in my marketing qualitative research when you have to transcript all the interviews you’ve done, the voice is much clearer as all the surrounding noise are « muted » .
- Pocketbudget/Linxo/Moneylover: For those of you whose bank doesn’t have a budget function, these apps can fill in the gap. They allow you to enter your expenses and incomes easily from your phone, as you make them, some of them like Linxo even synchronize with your bank account so you don’t have to enter them manually. You can set limits for each category of expenses per month or week and it’ll send you notifications if you’re close to crossing your limit. Super handy!
- Lydia: After calculating how much everybody owes to everybody, it’s time to pay, but how? Cash and bank transfers work of course but isn’t there something simpler? In France, and now expanding to Europe, Lydia allows for credit card payment between individuals using their phone number or emails. You can send them money in 30sec or even request it from them. And the best part is: they don’t need the app to pay you; you enter their number, they receive a secure payment link, enter their credit card details and that’s it! Since I started using it, I’ve had a lot less troubles with colleagues and friends owing me a few bucks who never repaid me because they forgot or were lazy; this app allows no excuse!
- Aliexpress: Ever used Amazon? Ever thought a cheaper version should exist? Jack Ma heard your prayers. Aliexpress is the one competitor for Amazon. It’s originally from China but now delivers and operates in most of the world. And you can find anything there. The only downside, the delivery time is definitely not as fast as Amazon’s, but they’re catching up, fast!
- Foodora/Deliveroo/TakeEatEasy: Honestly, after a hard day, there are moments when I feel like cooking will just kill me so I indulge into delivery. There is nothing that beats that guilty pleasure after a long day (and most of them deliver ice-cream as dessert for comfort!). The range of offers they have is massive and the delivery time is really fast. Bonus: now even some fancy restaurants deliver through them, having someone important for dinner and don’t want to make a mess in the kitchen (or ruin your evening with your yet-to-be-developed cooking skills)? This will easily do the trick.
- PayByPhone: As an urban driver, after looking for a parking spot, the moment of paying the fee is definitely on the top of the « pains of driving » list. Indeed parking meters usually only take in coins and you have to choose the amount of time you’ll be spending there without any possibility to adjust it, so what if your meeting takes more time? Either you run out of your meeting pretending to go to the bathroom and put in a few extra coins or take the risk to get a fine. PayByPhone is a new app being used in France, UK and Belgium and also expanding to Europe. It allows you to pay your parking fee by phone entering your plate & credit card details and to adjust your payment by time (buy more time or even reduce your time and get money back). Bonus: you don’t need a smartphone to do all that; the process can also be done by texts for those who still thrive with a good ol’ Nokia.
Last but not least, being productive isn’t possible if you’re not healthy. And by being healthy I don’t necessarily mean counting calories and tracking exercise. Of course, these are the ones we think about the most, but health is more than that, it goes from your brain to your toes and there are (one last time) tons of productivity apps that can help you improve your health and thus being more efficient and productive!
- Waterlogged: Doctors, nurses, teachers, TV and my mom will never say it enough: we need to drink at least 1.5L of water every day to function properly. But my daily intake usually looks like: morning coffee, lunch coffee, and a glass of water for dinner; definitely not enough but I get caught up in work and I forget! Waterlogged tracks your daily water intake and sends you regular reminders for keeping you hydrated and productive at all time! Bonus: some research has shown that drinking water is sometimes as efficient as a cup of coffee for keeping focus, for those of you who have trouble sleeping at night because of that late afternoon coffee, maybe it’s time to change your habits!
- Tabata: When exercising, it’s very important to use proper timing, to make sure your efforts both pay off and don’t cause harm. I don’t know about you, but I’ve always found it hard to take a look at my watch for precise timing when exercising or to use my phone’s timer for workouts and break periods. Time for me to set up the 10 sec break between 2 series and it’s over. Tabata solves that exact problem; it’s a set of apps with exercises and timers, which allow you to not care about time, you just need to follow either audio or visual signals from your phone to exercise properly.
- Lux: When I started university, I started wearing glasses to reduce my migraines and my doctor said: « only use them when you read and are in front of a screen ». Well, needless to say, I wear them almost all the time now because there are screens everywhere and they’re involved in everything. Our eyes have a very strong connection with our brain and eye fatigue is definitely a holdback in my productivity. And when do our eyes get the most of our fatigue? At night when blue light interferes with the dark. So for those of you who are like me and still want to continue using your computer at night, you can use FLUX, it transforms the blue light of your screen in yellow light at nightfall. Colors definitely look a bit awkward at first but after a few days you get used to it and honestly, my eyes definitely feel better in the morning and so does my brain and my productivity for the next day.
- Skulpt: Every one of us wants to be fitter for both beauty and health, and fitter, in our vocabulary, usually means fighting the evil of “fat”. But how do you know which part of your body has the most fat so you can target your exercise? Either you follow Arnold Schwarzenegger « It’s simple, if it jiggles, it’s fat », or you use Skulpt, a device which connected to your phone scans your body muscles and tells you how much percentage of fat you have in each. Very handy for targeting the gym class you’ll attend next!
- Fitbit: Should I really introduce the Google of health trackers? This bracelet connects to your phone and allows you to track bunch of data related to your health, your exercise, etc. Very handy to keep track of everything and to motivate yourself with your progress!
- Clue: There are a bunch of health apps out there to track your heart rate, your sleep, and your temperature, but how about your period and fertility? Yes, I’m talking to the women out there; don’t you hate it when you’re not sure when your period will be or to use a secret coding system in your Google calendar? This free app is super complete, it easily allows you to enter your date from preset categories and after a few months, it gets scarily good at predicting when your next period starts and sends you notifications about it! It’s one of my top apps since I started using it 1 year ago!
- Heartmath: Again another app coupled with an accessory. This one comes with a tracker but it’s not intended to track your health, it tracks your stress and proposes you ways to reduce it. And as we know, stress is not good for health, so getting rid of it sounds like a healthy thing, right?
So, if you made it until this point, congratulations! I hope you found out a few cool apps and are ready to boost your productivity thanks to all these apps!
If you want to find out more make sure to sign up to the email list by clicking on the “GET STARTED” button in the top right corner.
By Noémie Bouin
Edited by Lova Kremer