You have heard all of the advice. Don’t open your email first thing in the morning; don’t have so many meetings; make your lists and prioritize your tasks; don’t answer your phone, and on, and on, and on. Certainly, we do things every day that waste time and our tasks can take 2-3 times as long to get done. We are distracted; we fail to plan and prioritize. So, we look for solutions to our productivity problems.
The solutions are not universal. Every individual has different needs related to productivity – it’s very personal. But in the end, it’s about achieving your goals, using time wisely enough that you have time to do more, whatever that may be. So that question must be asked first.
Identifying Your Productivity Goals
Productivity has a broader meaning than just making more money or more products. Of course, it probably does relate to that in work life, at least indirectly, but it also relates to performing task responsibilities more efficiently so that there is time left for the pursuit of other things – personal interests.
So your productivity goals must be tied to how you want to work and live. And once you have those goals defined, you can seek the technology you need (hardware and software) personally.
Determining the Productivity Technology You Need
If you need to complete certain types of tasks more efficiently to meet your productivity goals, then you have to look at what is available to do that and choose those that meet your individual needs. And those needs are very different.
With a smartphone and, in fact, with any device you decide to use, there are apps for virtually every type of increased productivity you need – to enable you to do things faster, more effectively, and, in many instances, cheaper.
You can download apps who that will track your time, that will track your work habits and make suggestions. There are apps that will prevent you from becoming distracted by letting you block access to those distractions for a pre-determined period of time.
You can download apps that will allow you to collaborate with team members no matter where any of you is; apps that allow managing your to-do lists, to conduct research and save data and articles you want to read in the future. You can conduct business while waiting in the doctor’s office, while on a commuter train.
Students can manage their coursework completion schedules, do their research from their dorms and apartments without having to travel to the campus library, submit their assignments, take their exams when they are ready to do so, and keep track of their grades in all of their courses.
Teachers now have access to new educational technologies that allow them to maintain educational records and to assess individual concept and skill mastery, so they can plan for individual educational plans.
In fact, what technology has done is to allow all of us to juggle when and how we do our work, across all hours and days.
Finding the Best Apps for Your Needs
There are quite literally thousands of productivity apps for all types of needs. If you have the right goals, and you have identified your specific needs, then you are ready to look for your apps. Searching on iTunes by keywords may help, but you will probably be downloading and deleting apps quite a bit. Better to use the information that is already available by those who have evaluated apps and who can make solid recommendations. What follows here are good sources of apps by category.
Apps for Business and Work Tasks: Published just a short time ago (June 8), this is the listing and description of the latest business productivity apps available.
Apps for Personal Productivity: PC Magazine has published a list with descriptions of 100 of the best personal productivity apps for 2016. Many of these will obviously carry over to work and school life – it’s a list worth looking at.
Apps for Student Productivity: Again, Lifehack has gathered a listing and description of 25 of the best productivity apps for college students.
Apps for Teachers: A veteran teacher has identified and described 18 apps that no teacher should be without and published them on the CoolCatTeacher website.