Achieving full productivity can be challenging in the best circumstances. However, with the pandemic causing additional stress over health concerns, financial strains, job stability, and adjustments in work settings, remaining productive can seem almost impossible. With all these pressures weighing on workers’ minds, remembering multiple deadlines, staying on task, and maintaining a healthy work-life balance is both increasingly important and difficult. Thankfully, these productivity apps are here to help.
Top Three Essential Productivity Apps
As both a student and a writer working from home, I, too, have struggled to keep myself as productive as possible. Without the change of scenery and ability to go into an office or a library, it has been difficult to keep focused on my work when there are so many distractions at home that I would not encounter in a place of work. Because there is also no divorce between my current workstation and home, I often either have a harder time getting to work in the mornings or find myself working late into the evenings and struggle to find an appropriate time to finish work.
With the start of a new season and a new semester almost upon us, I investigated the productivity apps you need to be using to be your most productive self this September. Here is my countdown for the top three most essential free apps.
1: Google Calendar
If you are reliant on your calendar for knowing what you need to do each day or have ever struggled to remember events or meetings, the Google Calendar app will be your new best friend. This personal task management software app allows you to record details of any appointment, meeting, class, or other event for any hour(s) of the day or night and block it out on a calendar, which you can view in five easily accessible modes.
Its easy editing feature prompts you to fill in as much or as little information as you would like regarding the title, location, times, notes, and links and attachments. You can also choose among twelve colors for each blocked out event to appear in on your calendar, which allows you to color code based on the type of event and therefore easily see the differences between medical appointments, work meetings, and various other personal events. For each event, you have the option to add a reminder before the event, which will send a notification to your phone with the details of the meeting.
This app is also essential because it helps to foster connections with others in a time when face to face contact is not really an option. The first way it does this is by having the option for you to add information for video conferencing via google meet or links to zoom or skype meetings. It also allows you to add guests to each event, which will send them a notification and prompt them to accept, decline, or say “maybe” to the offer, adding the event to their calendar automatically if they accept. In addition, this app permits you to repeat events, which is helpful for yearly events such as birthdays or recurring meetings and classes in which you want to specify an end date.
If you have an iPhone or other Apple product, you probably already have this app. Let’s be real, though: most of us don’t use half of the apps already loaded onto our phones. However, this is one app you should definitely be using. The app’s personal task management software is excellent for a digital and more organized version of your scribbled to-do list. If you frequently have multiple deadlines, it can be easy for one (or more) to slip through the cracks. This productivity app will help you fix that problem by storing information regarding all those upcoming deadlines in one easily accessible place.
Similar to Google Calendar, Reminders can send you notifications on a date and time of your choosing. However, unlike Google Calendar, this to do list app allows you to mark the priority level, so you always know how important each deadline is. When you complete items, this productivity app gives you the satisfaction of marking off completed items and the option for all completed items to appear (so you can see just how productive you were) or for the completed items to disappear (so your list is decluttered and ready for the addition of new items).
Notes is another app that comes loaded onto iPhones and other Apple products. This is one of the best apps for storing information because the notes save right to your phone or your cloud and are easily accessible between devices (if on your cloud). While many Apple users already utilize this app, they probably are not using it to its full capacity. Even if you already utilize this app, you probably never realized how helpful it can also be in helping you maintain a healthy work-life balance.
Often, one of the reasons why people struggle to get started working when they have more leeway with time in the mornings is because their brain is not fully alert yet, which means they can struggle more with deciding what tasks to accomplish first or how to go about tackling a larger objective. Relatedly, people who find themselves working well into the evenings often do so because they still have more work they want to accomplish while they are thinking about it. Notes can solve both of these problems if used correctly.
At the end of each workday, open Notes and type in everything you were in the middle of with as many or as few details as you want. In that same note, make a to do list of tasks you still need to accomplish and that you want to complete the next day. This is a great way to wind down for the day because it allows you to sum up what you did that day (so you feel more accomplished), write down what you were in the middle of (so you don’t forget your train of thought), and have a list of tasks that you want to do the next day (so the next morning you can open the list and have an easier start to your morning because you already laid out what you need to do that day).
Google Calendar, Reminders, and Notes to have been incredibly helpful by improving my productivity because they have helped me stay on task, remember deadlines, and maintain a work-life balance. These are some of the most useful productivity apps that I recommend everyone to use. If you struggle with any of these problems and/or are looking to improve for the start of September, these three productivity apps are absolutely essential.