Our 5 Favorite Productivity Apps for 2016
Ready or not, 2016 is here, and if you've followed tradition you have some goals and resolutions for the coming year. The best way to be certain you accomplish them is to stay organised, so we collected five of our favorite productivity apps that can help you reach your goals the smart way.
Evernote is deceivingly simple. So much so that people often dismiss it, but the key to making Evernote as powerful and helpful as possible is using it for everything. The more you add, the more you will realize how much it can make everything easier.
Part of this is their tag system. For example, if you tag all of your bills and invoices as "finance 2016", then when it comes time to do taxes, you can search for that tag and pull all of the information you'll need to file taxes, even if they're in different notebooks. Tag all of one family member's information with one tag, and bring up all their information easily. You're basically creating a mini search engine for your life, and I assure you it will save you tons of time and plenty of headaches trying to remember where you put that auto insurance bill.
Now, digitizing your whole life and keeping track of it in Evernote sounds like it will take more time than it might save, but that's where our next tool comes in handy:
If This Then That is a website and set of apps that allow you to set up rules that make all of your accounts handle simple actions automatically. To refer to our Evernote situation, maybe it's a pain to send every insurance bill to one notebook. Here is where the IFTTT rules comes in to play. Once your email and Evernote accounts are linked, you can create a rule that says "IF I get an e-mail from my automobile insurance, THEN add it to my Evernote notebook 'automotive' with the tag 'finance 2016'."
And like magic, every bill you get from State Farm goes into the right place without you doing any further work. A few of these rules and your Evernote will soon fill with useful information and your brain will have to do a lot less work.
The sheer variety of account types on IFTTT make for great combinations. You can have every picture you Tweet save automatically to a Dropbox folder. You can make it so your Twitter picture changes whenever you change your Facebook profile photo. You can get a text every morning when you're getting dressed about the weather forecast. With each new rule, you automate another part of your life, and gain back tons of time in the long run.
One of our more fun options for productivity, Habitica is a to-do tool that turns your life into a game. With each completed task you gain XP and gold, which you can use to buy your character new armor (incomplete tasks cause damage to your digital self), or buy custom rewards (with 200 gold I can 'buy' myself a trip to Yogurtland).
We didn't just pick this for the fun factor though. As a serious to-do list, Habitica offers three core types of task: Habits, Dailies, and To-Dos.
Habits can be done over and over again, such as 'Eat more fruit'. I can eat an apple and an orange and click it twice, earning double the XP and gold.
Dailies reset on each day they are active (you can make some that are for every single day, others for just Mondays, etc.), and must be completed each day to avoid taking damage. These are handy for tasks like workouts and checking email.
To-Dos are one-time tasks such as 'File Taxes', and once completed go into an ongoing log of complete tasks.
On top of it all, it's easy to see what tasks have the highest priority by a color coding system that shows how well you are doing at each.
If you're looking for something more simple, we recommend Any.DO, which may be better for those who do not want or need the bells and whistles to stay motivated.
Counting calories is a debatable way to lose weight and maintain health, but do not be put off by Calorie Count's name. While it does the basics like tracking exercise and calories very well, the best feature of Calorie Count is its analysis of your food.
You can visualize what key nutrients you are getting and which you aren't. I was eating very 'healthy' for a long while before finding out that while I was balancing my energy nutrients (protein, fats, and carbs), I had been dramatically low in potassium intake. I can almost guarantee you will find a similar deficiency if you haven't been paying much attention to this aspect of your diet.
So if you are trying to eat truly healthy this year, and not just lose weight, we suggest tracking what you're eating through Calorie Count. Adding food items can be as simple as scanning the barcode or searching the name of what you're eating and then adding your portion size.
Whether you need to create your own schedule, or just want to create a routine for working out or a hobby, 30/30 is a powerful app that takes the techniques of Pomodoro and lets you customize a workflow to stick to comprised of segments of time reserved for specific tasks. So you can schedule 30 minutes of checking emails in the morning, followed by a five minute break for social media, followed by 30 minutes of working one project, then 30 for another, etcetera.
Defining these small chunks of time and focusing on a single task during those periods will seriously improve your productivity, and if you reserve time for your New Year's Resolutions, you won't have to worry about remembering to do it, you'll just know when to do it.
Those are our best, did we miss any great tools that you use? Let us know in the comments below!