Free Productivity Apps
By Kelli Korducki
Juggling a bunch of tasks has always been par for the course when it comes to running a small business, but we didn’t always have technology to help keep us on track. Thank goodness, the future is now. Productivity-boosting mobile and desktop apps are a dime a dozen, with a litany of task timers, workflow managers, and note-taking tools to choose from, many of which are free. But, not all digital productivity management solutions are created equal.
Whether you’re working from a home office or a conventional workplace, here are five of our favorite no-cost apps to help tear through that to-do list.
30/30 for iPhone organizes tasks into short, manageable bursts, operating under the premise that people are most productive in 30-minute chunks separated by breaks. Each work burst can be adjusted up to 3 hours, using a fun, brightly colored gesture-based interface (no buttons!) and a bold, easy-to-read display.
Why we love it: 30/30’s playful, game-like interface makes getting things done (almost) a pleasure.
RescueTime is a web-based app that aids productivity by ranking a worker’s efficiency and attention trends while blocking distracting websites like Facebook and Twitter for given blocks of time. It also tracks offline time spent on things like meetings and phone calls and rewards kudos after highly productive bursts. While the full RescueTime package rings in at $72 per year, a lite version (which includes efficiency tracking and productivity ranking on a per-app, per-site basis) is free.
Why we love it: RescueTime’s web-based functionality primarily tracks your time spent on the web, which makes its orientation as a browser tab (instead of a downloaded app) extra-intuitive.
Workflowy is a basic, user-friendly web-based app for creating and crossing off to-do lists. That’s it. But its power lies in its simplicity: this little app allows users to break down tasks that seem insurmountably large into a number of much less intimidating sub-tasks, inviting users to draw a satisfying strike-through line across each item as it’s completed, just like the pen-and-paper to-do lists of yore.
Why we love it: Workflowy’s clean and simple interface makes task management a breeze.
Pocket (formerly ReadItLater) is a free Chrome extension used for storing links to the websites and articles you come across during your workday through Twitter or Facebook that you’d really like to read when you aren’t, well, working.
Why we love it: Easy link storage all in one place beats the clunkiness of bookmarks.
5.) Paper by FiftyThree
Paper by FiftyThree is a simple, aesthetically divine solution for visual thinkers. The free iPad app allows users to create sketches, diagrams, illustrations and notes with true-to-life detail (like, for instance, pencil texture), which can then be shared across the web through Tumblr, Facebook and Twitter, or good old fashioned email. Plus, it’s available in nine languages.
Why we love it: Paper by FiftyThree’s elegant design capabilities bring ideas to life.