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© 2019 balance fulfilled

5 Apps to Boost Your Productivity

Updated: Dec 2, 2019

The apps I’m about to share with you are ones I’ve used for at least 5+years (with the exception of Toggl--been using for 2 years) that have helped me stay focused and productive. By creating a system/workflow, I’m able to get stuff done, save time, and focus on the things that matter most.


Disclaimer: If you have apps you’re using for similar purposes than mine that are working for you, then keep using them! These are the apps that I personally love and have found to be the best suited for my needs.


APPS COVERED:


Todoist

Evernote

Google Calendar

Trello

Toggl


Todoist is where I keep all of my next actions/actionable tasks (i.e. daily, weekly, monthly) to get done. I also use it to as my “INBOX”.

Evernote is my main reference and note-taking hub.

Google Calendar is where I schedule out all my activities.

Trello is what I use for project management, brainstorming, and creating big-picture views of projects and plans.

Toggl is what we use to track how long things take (e.g. from client projects to personal tasks).


*All of these apps are FREE to use and get started with but I’ve marked the ones to which I use the premium version.


*TODOIST


What it is: A to-do list app.


What I use it for:

-Capturing into my INBOX (anything that comes to mind I usually add in there and will file into its proper place later)

-Using the “Today” view so I know exactly what needs to get done each day

-Creating recurring daily, weekly, monthly tasks/checklists so I don’t forget (e.g. watering the plants, running payroll, processing emails)

-Make lists (e.g. Date Night Ideas, Wishlist, Places to visit) though I’m slowly transitioning to moving these into Evernote


Why I love it:

The “Quick Add” Feature. You can add a new task, set a due date and time, attach a label, give it a priority level, add it to a project, and assign a task all by typing all the details into a single line. Super easy and quick to do on desktop or in the mobile app.



*EVERNOTE


What it is: It’s marketed as the “best note-taking app" but it’s so flexible and customizable you can use it for so many things.


What I use it for:

-Recipes

-Journal

-Book notes

-Ideas

-Receipts/PDFs

-Blog post writing


It’s basically my digital filing cabinet for any piece of information I want to keep or need to easily reference.


Why I love it:

The Search feature - Everything in Evernote is searchable. You can search within notes, attachments, handwritten or typed text in photos!


The Web Clipper - I can easily collect and store articles I want to view or reference later.

I could go on about the features but I’ll save that for another post.



GOOGLE CALENDAR


What it is: A digital calendar


What I use it for:

-Time blocking specific times to complete tasks (I primarily use the weekly view.)

-Keep track of appointments, events, meetings

-A family calendar so my husband and I both know what’s going on each week

-Business: Keep track of client timelines and deliverable due dates

-A visual representation of how I spend my time


Why I love it:

I was great at making to-do lists but always had trouble “finding the time” to complete. Once I started time blocking and designating specific times to complete those tasks, I became way more productive and focused. It’s also easy to reschedule and move around tasks (i.e. you can drag and drop), set up recurring events, and have a visual overview of what’s going on each week.



TRELLO


What it is: A web-based Kanban-style list-making/task management application. It’s like a whiteboard filled with post-it notes.


What I use it for:

-Brainstorming & Organizing thoughts and ideas

-Project Management

-Process Checklists -Dashboard to see a snapshot of where we’re at with each client/project

I mainly use it for managing our projects and clients.


Why I love it:

I needed something to help me organize my thoughts and ideas, manage our clients, and keep track of our process checklists. Trello cards became digital post-it notes that I could take with me anywhere (i.e. using the mobile app).

-Easy to set up

-Simple “drag-and-drop” feature that allows you to move “cards” through your process

-Ability to organize/prioritize with labels

-Ability to create templates for our process which saves time when we onboard new clients


TOGGL


What it is: Time-tracking software


What I use it for:

-Track how long tasks take

-Track how much time we’re spending on each project/client

-Create project reports to see if we’re on budget

-Gain information to better estimate time on future projects


Why I love it:

Tracking our time gives us the information we need to better plan and schedule our days. It tells us how much time we’ve spent working on each project/client. It also gives us valuable insight into whether or not we’re scoping and budgeting out our client work effectively. You can create reports quickly and categorize them based on your needs (e.g. by project, client, task).


MY WORKFLOW 


Ok, so how do I actually use these apps on a day-to-day basis? This is going to be more of a general overview as each day is a bit different.


Weekly

Every Sunday evening or Monday morning, I’ll sit down and open up Google Calendar to see what I’ve got going on in the upcoming week (i.e. appointments, events, meetings). Then, I’ll block out time for “me time” (which is usually for writing, reading, whatever I want to do). I’ll also schedule out the days I want to work out/take a dance class. 


Then, I’ll open up Todoist and take a look at my “Inbox”, organize/prioritize any to-do’s I’ve created, and assign them to a day to complete either that week or in the future.

Next, I will assign a specific time to do those tasks into my Google Calendar. Sometimes, this might look like “Todoist tasks” on my calendar from 9-10 am where it’s a group of tasks that I can knock out in an hour (e.g. making an appointment for my daughter, making a call, scheduling something, writing an email, onboarding a client). Or it might be a reminder to “run payroll” which I do every other Wednesday morning. Todoist is a place where I keep a running checklist of things I need to daily, weekly, monthly (both personal and business related).


Daily

As I start each day, I’ll check Google calendar to see what appointments I have then check Todoist (using the “Today” view) to see what specific things I need to get done that day. 

As the day goes on, if things I need/want to do come up, I’ll add them to Todoist to process later.


DOWN TO BUSINESS

(My husband and I run a creative studio. So, the bulk of our business is working with clients to design and develop their brand identity. We work with anywhere between 2-7 clients at a time so it’s super important we stay organized and know where we are with each client/project at all times.)

This is where Trello comes in. I’ve created a makeshift dashboard to see where we’re at with each client at any given time. I’ll also check to see what the next action is for each client and create a task if needed.


As I start “working”, I’ll use Toggl to track any task I do that I’d like to measure (e.g. writing a blog post, working on a client project).


Evernote comes into play whenever I need to reference something (e.g. an account number for utilities or information regarding our health insurance). I also use it to take book notes on whatever I’m reading or drafting blog posts like this! 


What are your favorite apps that help you stay focused and get stuff done?