All too often, the start of any new year is filled with a heap of expectations of increased productivity levels; yet, by the middle of January, our motivation can tend to wane. While no smartphone app is going to transform your productivity output overnight, there are a few gems out there to help you with that mid-January slump. Let’s take a look at five completely free apps (available on both the App Store and Play Store) to help boost your productivity this January.
If you’re finding it difficult to stay focused on your tasks throughout the day, Be Focused is the app for you. Be Focused implements the use of the Pomodoro Technique, which is essentially a time management method which breaks tasks up into 25-minute intervals with small breaks in between. The idea is that these 25-minute intervals will be filled with your undivided attention due to the short time span, which can then instil a sense of urgency to get tasks done before the end of the timer.
Be Focused helps put the Pomodoro Technique in motion, with the combination of a to-do list for your tasks, as well as a timer to tackle said tasks. Another handy feature is that the app helps you track how much time you have worked on certain projects, creating a report of time spent on each. Be Focused is a game changer and a huge time-saver for those of us who can often spend two hours half-heartedly working on something that could easily be done in a much shorter amount of time.
Trello is a highly efficient app for both personal and work use. The visual layout of the app helps you keep track instantly of what you’re working on – projects are organised into boards, with separate columns containing different cards with separate tasks, which can then be moved around as you please. The app has collaborative options so you can share your board with colleagues to organise different tasks, telling you what’s currently being worked on and by whom, what’s in progress, and what task is finished.
Trello is perfect for personal, everyday use too. Thanks to its clear visual layout, it can help simplify the process of everyday organisation, making setting to-do lists, implementing a fitness routine, keeping track of recipes or even just listing different movies you want to watch, a lot easier (as well as being actually fun to organise!).
In compiling this list, I found a lot of productivity-focused apps very similar in their functions and designs; Habitica is a welcome exception to this. This app sets itself apart from the rest with its gamification aspect, branding itself a “gamified task manager”. Habitica enables you to make a personalised avatar and input daily habits and tasks; in turn users can earn in-game rewards and the opportunity to “level up” and unlock fun new features, like pets, upon the completion of real-life tasks previously inputted into the app.
Progression in the game directly correlates with progression through your real-life tasks, in turn motivating you to foster good habits in your daily life through a fun alternative to mundane to-do lists scrawled in your Notes app. The interactivity element of Habitica is a huge plus in this sense, enticing users to actually follow through on the to-do lists they make.
If you often find yourself down a rabbithole of articles or videos when you know you should be working, Pocket can help you out. Pocket is great for productivity in that it lets you save articles, videos, and stories from any publication, page, or app and put them in your “Pocket”. This is a lifesaver for whenever you’re stuck down that rabbithole of procrastination, as you can rest assured you can click off those distracting links, knowing you can get right back to them when your work is done.
It works on desktop too, and in that sense is also perfect for university-related tasks like writing assignments – with your resources all in one place, you can easily set out your references list and get to writing. One of the amazing features Pocket has is that it works offline, meaning you can access your pre-saved content wherever you are.
Todoist is often branded as one of the best to-do list apps out there, and it’s easy to see why. The different sections allow you to organise all your projects into separate groups, with colour-coding for your tasks’ differing levels of importance, as well as productivity graphs to mark your progress. A huge advantage of Todoist is that it features integration with a range of productivity-centred apps including Dropbox, useful for organising and storing your files, Google Calendar, or even Trello. Todoist does exactly what it says on the tin, helping you keep track of your daily to-do list and revamping your organisational skills in the process.
All these apps are free and available to download now, for Android on the Google Play Store and for iPhone/iOS from the App Store.