Procrastination. Overwhelm. Overloaded schedules. Distractions. As business owners or even employees, all of these habits can wreak havoc on our productivity, and we all fall victim to at least one of these flow killers every once in a while. I know I have, more often than I’d like to admit. Because of this, I’ve found myself becoming more and more obsessed with the idea that a simple little app (or four) can do wonders for helping me organize my day, my thoughts, my workflow, my life. I have downloaded and deleted A LOT of productivity apps over the last few years, but these three have stood the test of time and become some of my favorite little helpers each and every day.
My number one pick and my single handed life saver. Trello took the information and task overload that I was carrying around in a tangled mess in my brain, and organized it into neat little cards on handy, specific little boards. It’s a project manager and an ultimate to-do list maker. You can categorize, add team members, checklists, documents, assign tasks, easily move tasks between boards, even schedule social media posts! The features of this app are endless and that’s just for the free version. Trello also has paid versions for every budget and every need: Gold, Business, and Enterprise.
Have you ever felt like you worked really hard all day yet have nothing to show for it? You may be spending more time than you think on mindless tasks such as administrative work, browsing the internet and checking emails. That’s where RescueTime comes in. It records every move you make on your computer during your work time so you can see exactly where every minute of your time is actually going. Although it is fairly good at guessing, to get RescueTime working optimally, you will have to spend a little bit of time training it to recognize certain websites or applications as productive, unproductive, or neutral. You can get even more specific if you sign up for the premium version.
When I have a ton of things going on at once, I sometimes have a tendency to jump back and forth between tasks and projects. Pomello is a Trello-based version of the Pomodoro app, which is a timer that helps you hyper-focus, distraction-free on one task for a set amount of time (usually 25 minutes) while allowing a five minute break in between focus sessions. The super amazing thing about Pomello is that it turns your Trello “cards” into Pomodoro “tasks”. It tracks how long it took you to complete each task and lets you move it to another board and move onto another timed task. I swear my productivity has doubled since I started using this app!
If you’ve subscribed to one too many email lists or have just let your inbox get completely out of control, Sanebox will help you get it under control. I initially signed up for SaneBox just to get things under control myself after they organized it for me. It worked out well, so I thought, until a short time later my inbox inevitably ended up a huge mess again. So I decided to sign up for their “snack” plan, which is just enough for me to keep things running smoothly. It automatically organizes your emails into custom folders: Important (those ones go straight through to your inbox), SaneLater (read later), SaneArchive (old emails) and SaneBlackHole (goodbye forever, fingerhut.com promo emails! How did I even get signed up for that anyway?). Like RescueTime, although it is pretty smart, in order for SaneBox to work optimally, you will need to train certain addresses to go to certain places. It even sends you weekly (or daily, your choice) digests that make training super easy! Unfortunately, this one is only free for a limited amount of time, but there is an affordable option for everyone and it’s worth every penny. Oh, and you get a $5 discount if you use the link below.
So that’s it folks, the four apps that I use daily to stay organized, focused, and productive. I will also note that I use the free version of all of these apps except SaneBox (since the free version is only a trial), and I have never needed to upgrade to get value from the other three. Check them out below and let me know in the comments how they work for you, or let me know which productivity apps you use and favor!