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13 Productivity Apps to Help With a Focused Workflow

The startups have so proliferated in the tech world that online tools, including mobile and desktop apps from independent companies, have blown up throughout the digital world.

This is lucky for anyone who operates a business digitally. It means that app developers are aware of the hang-ups many digitally driven workers face when it comes to productivity, and they’re dedicated to creating tools to help us. App developers understand the lure of notifications, and media browsing, as well as the cramped feeling of disorganized filing, a messy inbox, and the stress of unplanned tasks littering your brain.

Productivity apps are designed to solve these time and workflow problems, from the ones that bug you in your daily life, to some you don’t even realize you had until they’re solved. Let the same technology responsible for cluttering your life help you develop habits that make your precious time count for more.

 Start Tracking Your Time

Whether you’re a team leader, team member, freelancer, and especially for those night-owl side-hustle entrepreneurs, time is the most valuable resource you have.  It’s easy to lose track of time. It doesn’t matter if we’re working hard at something or just procrastinating, time management will escape us at some point.

The right time tracker app will not only help you to focus on your tasks without forcing you to keep one eye on the clock, but it will also offer you valuable data on your productivity habits and needs.

Comprehensive time trackers such as the TopTracker app allow you to see how much time you spend on assignments, as well as organize a team and their time use. This app makes pricing and billing projects a breeze. I also find that an app like this keeps me on track because of its screenshot ability, which allows me to see exactly what projects I spend my time on.

Pomodoro Time Trackers

When it comes to increasing productivity, many professionals find the Pomodoro method to be an excellent pace for developing good focus and time management habits.

The Pomodoro method asks you to focus entirely on your task for 25 minutes. After each focus period, you take a break for five minutes or 15-20 minutes, depending on your patterns, and then begin another Pomodoro.

If another task pops up, you are encouraged to make note of it in a different workspace and then get back to your task quickly. If you need to answer a phone call or switch tasks, you mark your Pomodoro as interrupted and begin anew when you start to focus again.

Pomodoro trackers come in all shapes and sizes, such as the game-like and calming forest-building app called Forest, which blocks off access to the rest of your phone. A useful desktop Pomodoro is the tiny, unobtrusive Tomighty which remains quietly in your taskbar until it’s time to sound the buzzer. Another highly-rated app is the Focus List, which combines daily task management with Pomodoro time tracking to allow you to mindfully allocate your day to focused task segments.

When it comes to time tracking, it’s best to pick an app or two and your favorite method of time management and stick with it. Time management is about forming habits, so it will set you back to frequently switch between methods.

 A Note Clipper

Digital work will frequently force you to bring together disparate kinds of content. Photos, articles, notes, memos, voice recordings, data and analytics, emails, to-do lists, shortcodes, and a whole host of other bits and pieces often make up the prime material of your projects. A digital note-clipper is like having powerful digital filing cabinets that you can organize and sift through. They’re also generally connected to a cloud so that you can log into your account from just about any device and find your crucial content.

If this appeals to you, check out Evernote, a free app that allows you to store simple and customizable clippings from the web as well as any attachment from your computer.

 A Project Manager

Project Manager apps are like interactive schedulers that help you to optimize your time while making sure that you leave no task behind.

When it comes to individual and small-group projects, the Trello app is helpful for keeping a board of prioritized project-based workflow. Using Trello is like aligning updatable index cards on a virtual corkboard. Additional calendar plugins can upgrade the Trello app to an all-in-one scheduling machine to keep track of every aspect of project development.

For those who are interested in more of a To-Do calendar-based approach, the Todoist app allows you to add and satisfyingly mark off tasks on multiple lists, with separate filters for home, work, and leisure.

 A Clean or Markdown-Style Writer

Word tends to be the super software of word processors. With customizable formatting, styles, and fields, it can do basically anything you need it to do to a piece of paper. But for basic writing tasks, all these tools and options are what keep Word from being a good workhorse writer.

Writing in a distraction-free digital workspace can allow one the same feeling as opening a clean legal pad to a new page. That feeling is the freedom to scribble all over that blank space. When it comes to productivity, things like formatting and editing should come second to just getting your copy down onto your digital pad. For this purpose, there are a number of markdown writers on the market, each with their own perks and styles.

The pared down iA Writer is excellent for focus options and the typewriter scrolling, but each writer, including Ulysses, Bear, and Write Room has its own share of devotees.

Social Media Manager

One of the first things that small businesses do wrong is assuming that they will always post their content manually to the right social media platforms on time. Even assigning someone to it could backfire and cost you valuable time if you’re intending to upload quality, consistent content. Scheduling your tweets and posts with an app like Hootsuite won’t take the spontaneous and personal feel out of your social media strategy, and it will allow you more control over when you post so that you reach the most people.

Additionally, your brand might already have a social media manager, but do you? If you’re a professional looking to build a personal social media following, Buffer offers free social media management and post sequencing for up to three social accounts.

A Distraction Blocker

According to the website for the Freedom app, when we disrupt our workflow for something that may even seem productive such as checking our email, it can stall our ability to focus for 23 minutes. Freedom blocks distracting desktop apps as well as websites to rescue you from the mind-clutter of multi-tasking and help your work performance. Similar apps are available for your web browser to stop you from wasting time on a customizable list of websites, such as the StayFocusd app.

Paperwork Scanner

If you’re working primarily digitally, the hassle involved in moving between paper and digital forms can slow down your work process. Paperwork should be the least of your concerns. If your main problem solving for the day has to do with strategizing how to file and deal with paperwork, then you’re wasting your potential. Apps such as ScanBot help you use your mobile camera to create professional scans of your paperwork so that all your paperwork is cleanly digitized and easy to share.

We were all told when we entered the workforce to “work smarter not harder.” Part of that means being able to allocate your time to its most productive uses and giving yourself distraction-free room to focus. The tech world wants to help digital entrepreneurs by putting the means of clean, productive spaces and tools at your fingers.

Rebecca Moses on Twitter
Rebecca Moses
Staff Writer: Rebecca Moses is a creative writer who can't keep from meddling in the real world. While living in Colorado, she developed a particular interest in small business production. She loves a writing challenge, dabbles in illustration, and reads to figure out how all things work and grow. Find her at RebeccaMosesWriting.com

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Find Your Way · Grow Your Business · Productivity · Solopreneur · Technology · Your Mindset

Staff Writer: Rebecca Moses is a creative writer who can't keep from meddling in the real world. While living in Colorado, she developed a particular interest in small business production. She loves a writing challenge, dabbles in illustration, and reads to figure out how all things work and grow. Find her at RebeccaMosesWriting.com

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