Staying Proactive: 9 Best Apps for Productivity and Time Management

Staying Proactive: 9 Best Apps for Productivity and Time Management

By: CJ Haughey

So much to do, yet so little time.

It’s a familiar feeling we can all relate to, and a perpetual problem that many of us spend years trying to conquer. Staying proactive every day is most definitely easier said than done.  

But here’s the thing:

It’s easier to be more productive today compared to 10 or 15 years ago.


Because in the digital age, we’re spoiled for choice with productivity apps, which can help keep us on track with virtually any task imaginable.

In a world that is obsessed with smartphones and the latest tech, there are literally hundreds of productivity apps and time management apps to choose from.

The toughest task is finding the right ones. Lucky for you, we’ve taken the trouble out of the equation right here.

Read on to discover the best apps for productivity in 2018.

9 Productvity Apps to Get in Your Life Today

You could waste hours of your life trawling through apps, reading reviews and trialing each one until you find the best. But that would be somewhat counter-productive, right?

Let’s just cut to the chase so that you can get your act together pronto!

Here are the best apps for productivity and time management you need to get in your life today.

#1. FocustList

When Francesco Cirilo invented the Pomodoro Technique back in the 1980s, he probably didn’t expect it would become one of the most universally popular tools for time management.

FocusList encourages you to work hard for 25 minutes without distractions, before taking a 5-minute break, as per Cirillo’s original blueprint.

The app also allows you to track your efforts and build up a work-log. You can analyze the data at the end of the day, checking your efforts against your estimates to see how well you did.

It may be simple, but it keeps you motivated to better yourself each day.

Best for: Intense focus
Compatible with: iOS
Price: $4.99

#2. Forest

Research indicates that that the mere presence of your smartphone hampers productivity. Even if it’s on mute, and upside-down, that little black mirror can suck you in.

But what if one of your productivity apps could turn your phone against itself? An app that encouraged you not to use other apps?

Well, in fact, such a wonder exists. Say hello to Forest.

Putting a spin on the Pomodoro technique, this app allows you to set a timer, and plant a ‘digital seed’ at the same time. If you work hard without disrupting the app, a tree will grow. If you leave the app before it’s time, you kill the tree.

Unless you’re a sadistic lumberjack, we’re sure you’ll love this app.

Are you productive enough to grow a forest?

Best for: Eliminating phone procrastination
Compatible with: iOS, Android
Price: $1.99

#3. Strides 

The power of habit is not to be underestimated.

The book by the same name emphasizes how humans can change their habit loop to create new habits, which can become pillars of a productive, healthy lifestyle.

As far as productivity apps, if you want to get proactive with forming new habits, you’ll struggle to find a better option than Strides.

You can set up milestones and daily goals, laying out a step-by-step journey to bigger, overarching ambitions.

Being able to track your daily progress and see yourself getting closer to the finish line each day is a great motivator. Before you know it, it becomes easy to do the things that once felt like a chore.

Best for: Forming new habits
Compatible with: iOS
Price: Free

Colored arrows denoting growth with the word ‘motivation’ in big letters.

#4. Trello 

    Ahh, Trello. What an app.

    Trello certainly packs a punch, taking Kanban-style list boards to another level.

    From basic planning and event organization to larger team projects, Trello enables collaboration on a wide scale, allowing users to set up separate workflows, attach documents and images, and communicate by leaving comments on each card.

    Its easy-to-use interface is perfect for use on mobile devices, and you can move cards and items around with a simple drag-and-drop feature.

    With its versatility and free-forever plan, it’s no surprise that this app has become one of the most popular project management tools in 2018.

    Best for: Project management, small team collaboration
    Compatible with: iOS, Android
    Price: Free-forever version available with limited features; Paid plans start at $9.99 per user per month

    #5. 1Password

    Many people make the mistake of using the same password for absolutely everything. This is a shocking idea, especially in the digital age.

    If someone works it out, your entire digital profile could be overtaken with consummate ease. The hassle will only be outdone by the humiliation of your ‘mylittlepony123’ password from 5th grade being discovered.

    Conversely, the problem with having too many passwords is that it gets difficult to keep track of them all, especially if you have umpteen different social media profiles, subscriptions, and online memberships.

    Who among us hasn’t wasted considerable time trying to get back into a site that you have forgotten the password for?

    You can bid farewell to that problem with 1Password. It’s essentially a locked box to keep all your passwords safe, serving the right ones up, as and when you need them.

    Best for: Remembering all your passwords
    Compatible with: iOS, Android, Mac, Windows
    Price: Free version available for 30-days; Paid plans start at $2.99 per month

    #6. RescueTime

    Sometimes, time management apps can prove to be little more than a placebo. They allow us to trick ourselves into believing we’re working harder, but how do we know if they’re really helping?

    With RescueTime, you can see just how effective your productivity tools are, as this program keeps a close eye on everything you do, logging time used in each website and app.

    It then delivers reports with nifty graphs, which show you just how productive (or lazy) you have been for the day or week. It even highlights the best programs and tools you are using and lets you know where you are wasting time.

    On the premium version, you can block any distracting websites. Plus, you can get alerts when you’re spending too much time using unproductive apps.

    It’s a bit like a bossy teacher who keeps looking over your shoulder to see what you’re doing. You’ll be thankful in the end.

    Best for: Tracking productivity
    Compatible with: Chrome, Windows, Android, Mac, Linux
    Price: Free version available; Premium version is $9 per month

    A clock and buzzwords related to time management.

    #7. Blinkist 

      Non-fiction books from inspirational figures, entrepreneurs, and influential people are gold. But when you’re working hard, it can be challenging to find time to read these books as much as you’d like to.

      Enter Blinkist.

      This app summarizes non-fiction books into bitesize chunks, giving you the very best of each book to consume through text or audio in just 15 minutes!

      No longer does it have to take you weeks to read each book. This incredible time management app will enable you to soak up wisdom from the world’s best and brightest at a rapid rate.

      Whatever your pursuits may be, you’ll find amazing books here to bolster your knowledge in a snap. How fast can you become an expert?

      Best for: Reading non-fiction books and fast learning
      Compatible with: iOS, Android
      Price: Free for 7 days; Premium version is $6.67 per month

      #8. Overcast 

      Maybe you want to learn but haven’t even got around to Blinkist, and you don’t have the time or will to read books. Podcasts are the next best thing, but they can be a huge time drain.

      However, they don’t have to be.

      You can listen to podcasts during your morning commute, or while you’re at the gym. With Overcast, it’s possible to maximize the productivity of your podcast time, by eradicating all ads and gaps.

      This super-efficient app is perfectly organized with a friendly interface, making it easy to find podcasts you love. Best of all, it’s totally free, making it one of the best apps for productivity that you can get today.

      Best for: Efficient Podcast Listening
      Compatible with: iOS
      Price: Free

      #9. Calm 

      How is a meditation app going to help with productivity? Before you roll your eyes at this one, there are a few things you should know:

      Firstly, it has been proven that meditation changes your brain. It helps reduce stress levels, counter anxiety, and improve focus.

      You need to make meditation a part of your daily routine to reap the rewards of the practice. Apple named Calm as the iPhone app of the year in 2017, so we can’t think of any better app to get your meditation groove on.

      From guided meditations to soothing music, this app has everything you need to conquer stress and develop a better sleeping pattern. Ultimately, that translates into a more functional, focused you.

      Best for: Meditation, combatting stress, improving sleep and focus
      Compatible with: iOS, Android
      Price: Free for 7 days; Paid plans start at $12.99 per month

       A woman sitting down meditating near a lake at twilight.

      Self-Discipline is Still Key to Staying Productive

      Studies on the actual effectiveness of productivity apps indicate they have a significant impact, which is why 71% of businesses consider mobility to be a top priority for the future.

      However, you must realize that your phone itself is not a productivity tool. So, while using online tools and time management apps can have a positive impact on your work rate, you still need to stay proactive.

      That being said, you need to use the right apps, at the right time. Moreover, you need to learn to discipline yourself to get the best out of each app.

      When you do that, new habits will form and staying productive will soon become second nature to you. Before long, you’ll constantly be planning bigger goals.

      So tell us, which app are you going to try next?

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