Leveling up your organization and productivity

The Best Productivity Apps of 2020

Kick off a new decade with the top apps for time management, tasklists, unified email, calendars, and de-stressing.

Most of us are always looking for ways to get more out of our day, especially when the endless array of notifications, devices, and deadlines make it hard to stay focused.

The day can get away from us so quickly leaving us wondering if we could be using our time more wisely. Other times, no matter how much we’re killing it at work, there is always more work to do at the end of the day and it keeps us from leaving the office at a reasonable time. But sometimes, all you need is a different way of looking at your workday.

Our phones are a mixed blessing. They allow us to stay on top of things on the go, set reminders, keep track of our calendars, and stay in touch with people—no matter where we are. But they also regularly distract us from our work. Even if we don’t pick up our phones, we notice the constant stream of notifications, and that is often enough to pull focus. For many people, being on our phones is a huge part of our jobs, making it easier to flip from our email app to Instagram or TikTok “just for a minute” (which, as we know, can quickly turn into 20).

Why not use the device that distracts you the most to better organize your day and encourage you to get things done in fun, new ways? Whether you want to streamline how you stay organized, need some help with focusing during an especially busy time, or are actively looking for ways to make each hour of your day count, phone apps can be one of the fastest ways to get started. After all, sometimes all we need is a little boost to level up our productivity.


Toggl

Toggl is a simple and intuitive time tracker aimed at recording how your time is spent. It works across multiple devices, so whether you are working on your phone, your laptop, or a tablet, Toggl is keeping track. Knowing how long you spend on each project is essential for people who bill clients by the hour or need to keep track of their total billable hours. However, there are still plenty of benefits for people working in salaried or non-hourly positions. Feeling like your deadlines are sneaking up on you? Toggl may be a great way to keep track of whether you are spending too much time on a task or to see if some of your time might be better spent elsewhere.

Toggl’s basic version is free, but they offer a premium version for $9/month.

Calendar

Looking for a smarter way to stay organized? Look no further than a literal smart planner app. Calendar uses artificial intelligence to track how you spend time so it can make suggestions along the way to help you be more productive and focused. Why add deciphering patterns in your schedule as one more item on your to-do list when you can get an app that does it for you? It also has a feature that allows people to request and book a meeting time directly on your calendar, but don’t worry, it also makes sure you’ll never get double booked.

Calendar’s basic option is free, but there are three additional paid tiers, including Pro for $10 a month and Business for $12 a month, per user.

ToDoist

Speaking of smart apps, ToDoist is here to help you make some sense of all the lists you make. Start off by putting all of your tasks into the app and it will begin to sort them into groups based on the patterns in your entries. You can also use ToDoist with a team if you regularly find yourself struggling to keep track of tasks with multiple people involved. You can also organize tasks by hashtag categories, assign items to different people, and audit their progress.

There is a free version of ToDoist, but if you want premium features or team capabilities, it will cost you $36 a year or $60 a year, respectively.

Pocket

How many times have you left tabs open for weeks, added bookmarks to your browser that you say you’ll get back to, or email yourself a link to a long-read you intend to get around to and then never do? We’ve all done it. Then we’re left with a busy screen full of tabs, our bookmarks bar in disarray, and an inbox dotted with our own emails we’ve marked as unread in the hopes that we’ll remember to read them later. That’s where Pocket comes in. Pocket allows you to store links and videos in one place so you can easily find them later. Bonus: it enables you to download them and view them offline. You can save directly from a browser or most social media apps.

Pocket has a free version; however, it has ads. If you want to lose the ads, Pocket costs $44.99 for the year.

LastPass

How many passwords are you keeping track of at any given moment? Your personal email, your work email, your social media, Netflix, Hulu, YouTube? The list goes on. LastPass offers a secure, encrypted vault to store them in. Your passwords are immediately available across all your devices allowing you to login with a simple tap. And it doesn’t just help you remember passwords, it can also generate new, strong passwords that will keep your accounts secure. You can use LastPass to remember payment and shipping details as well, but perhaps the coolest function is its sharing feature. You can share passwords with others easily without having to worry about your account details being in an insecure text stread, an email, or having to stop what you’re doing and call them to tell it to them over the phone.

There are two versions of LastPass, Premium which will run you $3/month or the Family plan for $4/month that works for up to six people.

Mimo

If you wish you could use your sporadic bits of daily downtime more productively (say, to learn a new skill), then Mimo is the way to go. The educational app teaches you to code in bite-sized, game-like, and science-backed exercises that fit into your routine and can help you stay motivated. You can choose your experience level and what coding language you want to learn—they offer beginner and intermediate levels of HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Python, and more.

You can download Mimo and get started for $9.99/month. Feeling non-committal? No worries, they offer a free seven-day trial.

Adobe Scan

If you find yourself needing to scan documents, keep track of receipts, and save business cards, Adobe Scan is an essential download. The app allows you to turn a photo of a document into a readable PDF. Business cards are great for networking, but who has the time to sit there and put them all in your contacts? Now, you can just take a picture and Adobe Scan will save the information as a new contact. Not to mention, you can convert photos of contracts, invoices, or forms into Microsoft Office documents to be filled in and signed all from your phone.

Adobe Scan is available for free, but some of their exporting features are only available with the $9.99/month subscription.

Unibox

Do you email a lot with the same people and wish you could keep all of your threads in the same place? Well, look no further: Unibox does just that. The app is designed to make your email inbox resemble your text inbox by grouping your email threads with each person into one clickable contact. Not only does Unibox group email threads by sender, but you can separately look at thumbnails of attachments sent by each person rather than having to scroll through to find each of them. Unibox is compatible with Gmail, Yahoo, Outlook, iCloud, and more; however, it is currently only available on iOS devices.

You can download Unibox for $13.99.

Evite

No doubt, you have heard of Evite in the past. It is a much faster and easier way to keep track of RSVPs for an event, but now it’s in an app which saves you even more time. If you throw a lot of events for work, Evite is a great way to keep track of everyone coming in real time. You can create all your event invitations on the app and send them via text or email.

Forest

Forest is a unique productivity app. It makes a game of each time you put down your phone to focus on a project. You plant a virtual tree that grows the longer you don’t look at your phone. If you attention wanders and you leave the app to check other things, the tree withers and dies. The more virtual trees you grow, the more coins you can earn. These coins are redeemed for real trees as part of the Trees for the Future organization which so far as planted more than 400,000 trees thanks to Forest users. You can also join friends on the app and do collaborative projects that grow trees together.

Forest is available in the App Store and Google Play for $1.99.

Headspace

One Google search will turn up countless articles on tips and tricks for being more productive, staying organized, and getting the most done in each day. Sometimes the most important change you make in your day is your mindset. Headspace helps you focus on the things that matter most to you so you can feel less distracted and be more mindful throughout your day. It has guided meditations or everything from mindful technology use to anxiety to better sleep. Your best work is done when you are at your best, and Headspace was designed to help you be your best.

You can download Headspace for free, but there is also a premium version with even more meditations and features for $12/month.

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