A little while ago I read an article about the cult of productivity. It talked about how being productive as a way to keep doing more can be bad for your health. Instead, you want to be productive to spend less time on work. This is something that resonated with me. I’m constantly looking for ways to work smarter, not so I can work more, but so I can spend less energy while I’m working. So today I want to share 3 productivity apps that help me work smarter.
Constantly feeling like you need to be doing more is a problem, it’s something I’ve had problems with this year in particular. No matter how much you do, you’re always going to feel like you should do more. I don’t think these apps are going to help with that, but I’ve found they help me organise my work and time effectively.
3 Productivity Apps Which Help Me Get Stuff Done
Forest is a fantastic productivity app if you have a habit of getting distracted by your phone. It’s essentially a Pomodoro timer combined with a game. The Pomodoro method works on the idea that you do an amount of concentrated work, then take a break. Usually, this means I do 25 minutes of work then a break. But I have seen people who set 4-hour work timers.
Forest works by asking you to set an amount of time that you’re going to work for. By starting the timer you plant a seed. You then put your phone away and start to work. As the timer counts down this seed will start to grow. If you check your phone while the timer is still working it will kill the plant. If you get to the end of your session without checking your phone, your plant will have finished growing and you now have a tree or shrub or any of the other plants you can choose to grow. As you continue to use the app you will start to grow a forest (hence the name).
Forest can also be great as a way of tracking how much work you do. As you continue to plant trees and grow your forest it will show graphics based on how much work you’ve done over the day, month and year. I know it’s not a good thing to quantify how productive you are. But in some circumstances, it can be very helpful to know how much time you’ve spent on a project.
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It also has a few other fun features. You have the option to add friends and see how much work they have been doing. It also has audio tracks to play while you’re working. These audio tracks are great, but it is very noticeable when the track loops. I’m also not the person to ask about the social aspects of the Forest app. I don’t feel the need to add friends on the app and don’t know anyone who uses it.
You can download Forest and use it for free. You do have the option to get the Pro version of the app, this removes ads from the app and gives you access to additional features and statistics. One of the things I didn’t like about Forest is that occasionally, there are legitimate reasons I need to use my phone. For example, I need to take photos or get a phone call. The app doesn’t deal with these situations well and I’ve ended up with a few dead trees because of it. Though the Pro version does give you the option to set apps that you are allowed access to while you’re growing a tree.
Honestly, if you have a habit of getting distracted by your phone I would highly recommend Forest. It’s a Pomodoro timer but the game aspect makes it a little more enjoyable. The Pro version is only £2 though the ads aren’t all that annoying.
Momentum is an app I’ve been using for years. This is a Chrome extension that alters your new tab page. For complete transparency, I’ve been using this app after coming across it on Tumblr a few years ago. Sometime around 2017 studyblr started becoming popular on Tumblr, many accounts started using Momentum as their new page tab and it turned into a “thing”. I started using this extension for the aesthetic and never stopped.
Every time you open a new page in Chrome, Momentum displays an image, these are usually nature photos and it’s always nice having something interesting to look at when starting up Chrome. Momentum has grown over the years, turning from a simple page extension into a small productivity app. The exact way you use Momentum is up to you, they have lots of options for customising your start page, though it should be noted that some of these customisations require the paid version of the app.
On startup, Momentum will display the time and a short message. It then has a section that asks you to add your main focus. This task list is then displayed on each start page so you would be reminded of your tasks as you are browsing the web. As I’ve said, Momentum has continued to develop and you now have the option to show a separate task list. Though this isn’t quite as aesthetically pleasing, it does have some benefits.
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You have the option to organise your tasks into separate categories. So for example you could have categories for work and personal stuff. There is also the option to integrate other productivity apps such as todoist or Trello. This means that Momentum will take your tasks from those apps and display them on your start screen. Another small feature I like is the ability to set work times. So your task list will only be displayed on your start page during these times.
The chrome extension is free to download and has the most features. Though some of the more complex productivity featured require the paid version of the app. This works out to around $3 per month, which isn’t much but I don’t like the idea of paying every month for this sort of app. So I just use the free version of the extension and it works perfectly well for me. Even if you don’t want any of the productivity elements, Momentum is still a great extension if you want something nice to look at on your start screens. You have lots of options when it comes to customizing your start page.
I have talked about CoSchedule many many times in the past. Though I use my bullet journal as a way to keep my blog organised, CoSchedule is the main productivity app I use to manage my blog. Though many other systems work similarly. CoSchedule is the one I prefer because of how well the integrations work. Apps like Tailwind and Buffer are great, but they only work for some of my needs. For example, I could write social media posts in Buffer that would advertise a new blog post. But I would need to set specific dates for these posts to be published.
One of the reasons I love CoSchedule is how it integrates a social media campaign with a blog post. I have the CoSchedule plugin for WordPress. This means I can see on CoSchedule all the posts I have scheduled on my blog. This integration also means I can create new posts and schedule them on CoSchedule and that will show in my WordPress dash. But the main advantage of CoSchedule is how social media marketing can be integrated into this system.
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When I create a new post in WordPress, I have the option to create a new marketing campaign as part of the post. The campaign can be created through CoSchedule but the plugin gives you the same functionality in the WordPress post editor. This I can write all my social media content and schedule Instagram photos directly inside the WordPress editor. I like this system because everything is kept together and is linked to the blog post date. Rather than scheduling a tweet for a specific date. I can schedule a tweet based on how many days after the post went live. This means all my scheduled tweets and Facebook posts are linked to the date each post goes live..
CoSchedule has all sorts of other functions. It is essentially a marketing and project planning app. So while I use it to manage my WordPress blog, it can also be used with YouTube or for a podcast and many other things. This productivity app is also aimed at marketers which means it’s slightly more expensive. Currently, I pay $19 each month for CoSchedule which I don’t mind considering how much time it saves me. If you are a blogger I would highly recommend it, just remember that it won’t work on WordPress.com blogs.
And that was three productivity apps that help me get stuff done. There are other apps I’ll use as well. I know things like ToDoIst and Trello are very popular. I have tried these out in the past but most of my task planning is still done in my bullet journal. Toggl is another app I’ve found extremely helpful as I’ve started to move into freelance work. But the three mentioned in this post are the ones I use most often. I realise some cost quite a bit of money, CoSchedule especially.
I hope you find something on this list which can help you be more productive. Momentum is the app I would highly recommend even if you don’t need the planning aspect. It’s always nice to have something to look at when opening a web browser.