The 15 best apps for a productive day at work

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There are many posts on the internet about productivity apps — it’s become a minefield of ‘getting things done’ and ‘Pomodoro’ techniques.

I myself have actually written previously about great productivity apps. So, in this article, I wanted to break an average day down into five key parts, and list the type of useful tool or apps that could genuinely be of help at each stage of your day.

Early rising: Apps for waking up well

Every individual has a different optimum required amount of sleep, but waking up in a gentle, gradual manner is beneficial to all. There are a number of mobile apps now on the market designed to give you the best waking up experience possible.

1. Rise Alam Clock is a simple and intuitive iPhone app designed to make alarm setting and alarm turning off as painless as possible. A simple swipe can set the time on the alarm and turn it off, playlists can be set or soothing sounds chosen, and the app also recognises the Do Not Disturb function on the iPhone.

2. Wake N Shake brings an element of gamification to the waking up process, with udders earning points for waking up quickly and/or early (shake your phone a set number of times to switch the alarm off) and you can even compete with friends on Facebook to be the wake-up queen or king of the week (the one with the most shake points wins).

3. Uniqlo Wake Up is an app designed by a Japanese fashion brand and includes an alarm sound/set-up that is automatically generated based on the weather, time and day of the week, and can be adjusted to set the appropriate mood.

4. I Can’t Wake Up! is a particular favourite of mine. Less about sleep cycles and more focused on ensuring alarms really do their job. This app has eight different ‘wake up methods’ which won’t let you turn the alarm clock off until that particular task has been completed — everything from maths equations to be completed to rewriting a particular sentence. For the softer options, you can simply shake your phone to wake up, or go so far as scanning a barcode that has been placed in another room.

Breakfast time: Apps for catching up on news

There are so many news apps on the market, we are drowning in them these days. I like to get my news fix in the mornings either on the way to work or in the first 30-45 minutes when I’ve just sat down at the office, before my brain fully switches into gear.

5. Google Currents has become a recent regular addition to my morning reads. Compatible with all phone and tablet devices, it very quickly allows you to catch up on breaking news alongside your favourite publications, all presented in a swipeable magazine format.

6. Pulse is my second port of call as it quickly integrates not only popular news and blogs but also allows you to catch up on social media and news. I’ve got my dashboards broken down into news and popular reading, followed by work and industry-focused updates. Great for a quick skim to be alerted to the latest updates across the board.

7. Tweetdeck for Chrome is the last of my holy trinity for early morning catch-ups. It’s a classic, but having it as part of the Chrome interface makes it easily accessible at work without slowing your computer down too much. It allows you to stay on top of industry-related news quickly. I only allow work-related lists to be visible during the day and ensure tweet alerts and notifications stay off so as to minimise distractions.

Afternoon productivity: Apps for optimising your email

As we move into the later part of the day, I often find email is the biggest time-sucking culprit. Whether it’s just getting emails in order, dealing with the influx, or remembering to action all the different points that have come up during the day.

8. Unsubscribe Deals is a free service that allows you to unsubscribe from the hordes of daily emails that land in your inbox at late lunchtime in two very quick steps. It’s amazing the amount of time you save by not having to half-read, delete or try to ignore all that unnecessary bumpf!

9. Boomerang is a wonder of an application that can be plugged into both Outlook and Gmail, allowing you to schedule emails to be archived, schedule emails to be sent at a later time or remind you to chase people if you don’t hear back. Productivity in a box!

10. Taskforce allows you to convert emails into tasks, within your inbox. You can also delegate tasks or save them for later. Great in conjunction with Boomerang!

Coming back to great ideas: Apps for saving ideas, plans and links

Moving towards the end of the day and I often find myself in danger of forgetting all the little tips and tricks I’ve thought of throughout the day, or that quick to-do task list I need to sort out for myself. There are to-do list apps galore out there but here are a few of my favourites.

11. Clear (iPhone only) is an app that’s quite recently launched and it’s great for those simple lists. You can swipe, pinch and drag tasks and even store them in iCloud.

12. Evernote — you can’t get away from it. It still rules my life as the place I save everything. If it ain’t broke …

13. Captio crosses back over into email territory — but is also a great to-do app as it allows you to email yourself with just one click. Open the app, write a message and hit send. For all those times when even Evernote is just too much effort!

Ensuring the day doesn’t get away from you: Apps for timesheeting

Timesheets are a royal pain in the derrière — nobody enjoys them. In an attempt to understand where I was losing all of my time, I recently not only started to log work time in terms of projects and clients but also log some of the extra-curricular things I do (such as this blog post, for example). I also block out time in my calendar so that my day has a very clear routine.

Whether or not this actively contributes to my productivity remains to be seen, but it certainly helps me feel calmer and more in control.

I tend to get around to a quick timesheet review at the end of each day, which is why I’ve left these recommendations to the end of this

14. Freckle easily allows you to tag up everything you are working on, quickly breaking it down between billable and non-billable with great colourful and easy to understand visualisations within its reporting system. It’s simple, effective and actually easy on the eye compared to most tools — not bad at all.

15. Timesheet App does exactly what it says on the tin. It’s compatible with both iPhones and Androids and allows you to keep track of time on the move. Great if you want to just catch up on your work hours on the commute home.

This article was first published on Women’s Agenda.

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