It's a brand new year. You're back at your desk after a relaxing break and you're keen to make some positive changes.
You want an efficient setup, so you can spend most of your time being creative. Whether you need inspiration fast, want to deal with clients more effectively or handle mundane chores with ease.
To help you get there, we've pulled together a list of some of the latest tools and services focused on making your day as productive as possible. Ones that will free up your time throughout the day. With no time to lose, let's get to it.
Describing itself as the homepage for your favourite websites, Panda is a simple (and free) newsreader, bringing together the best tools, resources and inspiration in the world of design and tech – all on one page. This is a great place to start over that morning brew – saving you trawling through different websites for inspiration.
This is a bit of an odd app but one we highly recommend. If you need to forget your smartphone and stay focused at work, Forest allows you to activate a timer and grow a virtual tree unless, of course, you fail and give in to temptation and look at your phone, which is when 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.
Your clients are keen to catch up and meetings need to be booked. Save yourself the hassle of going back and forth over email and use Doodle instead. The freemium service lets you create an online calendar with possible meeting times, allowing everyone who receives the link to tick which slot works for them. It integrates with other tools such as Google Calendar, Outlook Calendar and Slack. Plus if you upgrade, there are extra helpful features like custom logo and branding.
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 also syncs seamlessly across all of your devices, so you can keep on top of your tasks everywhere. Not just great for work, 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.
6. 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 free to use with options to upgrade in future, should you need to access more powerful features.
Remembering passwords for different websites can be a time-consuming pain in the butt. LastPass remembers all your passwords, so you don't have to. Just remember your master password and LastPass remembers the rest. The free app works on your desktop and device. Even better, it helps you create strong and bespoke passwords for every single account you have, so you're nicely secure.
One of my 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.
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.
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.