For the last few months, many of us have had other priorities than enhancing our productivity. From dealing with the loss of work and clients to juggling new childcare and homeschooling responsibilities, just getting through the day and staying sane has become the main goal.
But with restrictions starting to ease around the world, and the economy beginning to revive, we're now starting to get back to something close to normal. And as we brace ourselves to get up to speed once more, it's a great time to look for new tools that can make us all the more productive; helping us find inspiration fast, deal with clients more effectively or handle mundane chores with ease.
To help you, we've pulled together a list of some of the latest tools and services focused on making the days to come as productive as possible.
Do you spend a lot of time every morning trawling through different websites for inspiration? It's good to stay up-to-date with the latest happenings in design and tech, but there is a more efficient and easier way to do so. Describing itself as the homepage for your favourite websites, Panda is a simple (and free) newsreader, bringing together everything you need on one page. Saving you trawling through different websites for inspiration, this is a great place to start your day over that morning brew.
This is a bit of an odd tool but one we highly recommend. If you need to forget your smartphone and stay focused while working, free app Forest allows you to activate a timer. While that timer is on, it grows a virtual tree; if you give in to temptation and look at your phone, your tree will die. There's also a free Chrome extension, so you can enjoy the same benefits on your desktop, plus block certain sites like Facebook while the timer is running. You can even help Forest to plant trees in real life. Want to stay focused and save the planet? Yep, thought you'd like this one.
This award-winning app is a virtual to-do list where you can organise your tasks, lists and reminders all in one place. Any.do is designed to help you get organised and never forget a thing. It syncs seamlessly across all of your devices, so you can keep on top of your tasks everywhere. It's not just great for work either; you can create shopping lists or set reminders on when to water your plants or pick up your post. It's free with the potential to upgrade to access more features.
A neat little scheduling app, Productive has all the tools you need to build a routine of positive, life-changing habits. Want to get into running? Meditate? Take your vitamins? Walk the dog? Productive will give you a nudge to remind you of your daily tasks or goals. To motivate you further, you can build 'streaks' of perfect days where everything gets done. And the longer your streak, the more empowered you'll feel. Productive is free to download with in-app purchases.
5. Rescue Time
Still not feeling productive? Rescue Time helps you understand where your time goes each day, so you can take back control. The tool works in the background on your computer, phone, and tablet to show you exactly how you spend your time (no manual entry required). It's a paid-for service, but there is a 14-day free trial.
Remembering passwords for different websites can be a time-consuming pain in the butt. LastPass remembers them all, so you don't have to. Just remember your master password and LastPass remembers the rest. Even better, it helps you create strong and bespoke passwords for every single account you have, so you're nicely secure. It's free, with the option to upgrade to a paid-for version with advanced features.
One of our favourite time-saving apps for macOS, Alfred boosts your efficiency with hotkeys, keywords, text expansion and more. Search your Mac and the web quickly, and be more productive with custom actions to control your computer. The basic version is free for you to download and use forever, with no strings attached.
This simple timer uses the Podomoro technique to give you a decent productivity boost. It helps you to stop procrastinating, focus consistently and track your time. Yes, it time-tracks and gives you an idea of where you spend your time, so you can make positive changes. But our favourite feature is the Podomoro timer where you enjoy sharp bursts of focus to get things done efficiently. The free version of the app comes with 20 pomodoro sessions per month.
We come back to Trello again and again. It's a free visual planner (with options to upgrade) and one that helps you plan your day through fun 'boards', lists, and cards. You might create a board titled 'In progress' or 'Ideas' – then you can move tasks around when projects progress.
Want more time to be creative, and less spent on repetitive tasks? Automate can do a lot of the mundane work for you. You just have to tell it that when one thing takes place, another should automatically happen: for example, when an email is tagged “To do”, a Trello card should be created. There are more than 100 apps you can connect together, and you can create one-to-one or multi-app workflows. Start with the free version, which allows you up to 250 actions per month.