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Wednesday, 15 November 2017

PRODUCTIVITY SERIES: 2: 5 Free Apps That Will Make You Way More Productive [Bitesize]

5 free apps that will boost productivity, improve concentration, and help work to a higher standard

For our second installment in the Productivity blog series, I want to share with you my absolute top 5 FREE apps that have helped me become waaaaay more productive!
The Productivity Series: 5 blog posts on how to improve your productivity, focus and work

  1. 5 Steps To Getting Rid Of Distraction
  2. 5 Free Apps That Will Make You Way More Productive [Bitesize]
  3. 8 Ways To Stay Motivated (even when you don't want to work!)
  4. 10 Quotes That Will Keep You Super Pumped!

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For our second installment in the Productivity blog series, I want to share with you my absolute top 5 FREE apps that have helped me become waaaaay more productive! (Psst! If you've read the first post in this series, you probably already know - and hopefully use - the first one on this list!)

Here are 

5 free apps that will boost productivity, improve concentration, and help work to a higher standard

1. Tide

As mentioned in the previous post in this series, Tide is an app I use every. single. day. Seriously, I'm using it right now to type this post out. How meta is that?

In its essence, Tide is a white/ambient noise app with an in-built timer. By default, it is set to the Pomodoro time-scheme, where you work in twenty-five minute slots with five-minute breaks in between, but you can work for up to two hours at a stretch (and you can totally reset the timer immediately). Tide also keeps a record of how many "focus sessions" you've done in the day,  if you're into keeping those records, though I don't really use that function.

The reason I love Tide so much, way more than most other white noise apps, is the quality of the ambient tracks. If you haven't heard, there are a couple of studies that suggest working in a Cafe setting makes you way more productive than working anywhere else - here's a great article that explains this a bit better. Guess what - Tide has an amazing Cafe noise setting! And I don't know if this is just Placebo, but I honestly find myself getting so much more work done when listening to this track!

Find Tide on the: App Store | Play Store

2. Meditation apps

Alright, meditation is often such a personal thing, that there is no single app I can recommend over others. A lot of how well a particular meditation works for you depends on the voice of the instructor, the length of the meditation, the level of depth you like, the amount of guidance you need, etc. So instead, here are a couple of my favourites.

    • Meditation and Relaxation
    • Cover artMy absolute favourite is this nifty little app called Meditation and Relaxation: Guided Meditation. Okay, the name is obvious wrapped in obvious, but honestly, the guide's voice is super calm and soothing. The free version is fairly limited, but unless you're hoping to go soul-searching (which, kudos on that!) the free meditation tracks do the trick just fine! Plus, I'm a total sucker for the cool watercolour graphic! Find Meditation and Relaxation on the: App Store | Play Store
    • Calm

      I'm fairly new to the Calm app, but I find that it provides the
       best free package so far! I personally love that there are a bunch of 7-day meditation series focused on particular issues, such as managing anxiety, getting better sleep, focus, and developing gratitude.

      Another great feature is the breath bubble, which forces you to consciously sync your breathing to the counts of the bubble - a great exercise for those mid-finals week panic attacks!
      Find Calm on the: App Store | Play Store

    • Headspace

      Alright, when I first got Headspace, the very first meditation
      was absolutely amazing! The guy's voice is really calming and friendly, and the meditation itself is super effective at centering your thoughts and focusing on your breathing. However, the free version of the app isn't nearly as expansive or versatile as the above two apps, especially if you're looking to solve a particular issue through meditation.

      Headspace is still a great app to try, however, and can be really useful for a quick little meditation in between work or during travel (not if you're driving though!).

      Find Headspace on the: App Store | Play Store

    3. Evernote

    You've probably already heard of Evernote a thousand times, but let me tell you why I love it (and use it far more than I care to admit!). If, like me, you switch between devices a lot - I usually take notes on the fly on my phone, and then look back at them on the computer or my laptop - this is definitely the best cloud-based note-taking app. 

    Evernote is jam-packed with a whole bunch of features, such as image integration, voice notes etc., but I use it for the very basic text notes. Often, I find that ideas come to me when I have no other device to note them down apart from my phone. Also, random surfing can bring loads of super useful resources, and I like to save the URL in text notes. Later, when I'm writing a blog post, for instance, I'll log into Evernote on my computer, and find the note exactly where I left it!

    They do have in-app upgrades that you can purchase - for example, the free plan only allows a certain number of devices that you can use the Evernote app from - but honestly, you don't need the app on anything other than a phone! Their website-version is just as great (if not better) as the mobile or tablet app, and you can access that at any time! 

    Plus, I've never run out of storage on the free plan, and the app itself has some great widgets for your phone's home screen that makes note-taking such a joy!

    Find Evernote on the: App Store | Play Store

    4. Trello

    Okay, I'll admit I ignored Trello for the longest time after I first downloaded it many moons ago. For some reason, it just didn't work for me....until it did.

    I'm telling you, guys, this app has changed how I plan my content! There is a very small learning curve, which has to do with the 'boards and cards' format, but you soon get used to it - in fact, this quickly became what I love most about Trello! 

    The way it works is that you create a bunch of "boards" - I have one for my blog, one for Instagram, one for E-courses... you get the picture. Each board has "lists" - for example, my blog board has a running list of future posts, and separate lists for blog series (such as this one. More meta!). Finally, each list has "cards" - these are basically your tasks. Except you can go a step further and add sub-tasks to each card! 

    So, for this blog series, here's how my content is laid out:
    Board: 'Blog' -> List: 'Productivity Series' -> Card: 'Post 1' -> Subtasks: 'Point 1, Point 2, Point 3...'

    When you're done using a card, you can either drag it to archive, or if you need to keep it as a reminder that you've completed it (like I do), you can drag it to a separate "Completed tasks" list. I have one of these on each of my boards - not only is it super easy to go back and see just what I've completed, but it's also a great confidence boost!

    Find Trello on the: App Store | Play Store


    If you've followed me on Instagram, you probably know that I'm on an e-book kick at the moment. Seriously, I can't get enough of creativity and self-help books! I'm literally reading for two to three hours at a stretch, and it's a good job I have anti-glare glasses because that much screen time with no breaks isn't good for anyone! (And yes, I've got prescription reading glasses at 22. I'm not even ashamed.)

    Now my fight with e-book readers is an ancient one, because most of them have no function where you can increase the text size or reflow the text to suit a particular screen.

    But PocketBook...oh PocketBook! This app is an e-reader-gasm! Not only can you  increase the size of the text and rearrange paragraphs to get rid of annoying indents and double space the lines, you can also highlight super easily, add notes and comments, place multiple bookmarks, and change the brightness and colour schemes in app! Like seriously, you can make it greyscale, sepia or night mode!

    Plus, you can go into the book details and find a list of all the sentences you've highlighted, all the notes you've made, and all the bookmarks you've created. And the best part? It works with like a million different formats! No more switching apps for .pdf, .epub or .mobi, PocketBook will do anything for you!

    No, this post isn't sponsored by PocketBook, but honestly, I want to marry the app it's so good!

    Find Pocketbook on the: App Store | Play Store

    I genuinely use all five of these apps every single day, and I highly recommend you give them a go! I promise they'll blend seamlessly into your life, and make your screen time and work-load so much more efficient!

    If you love the Productivity series, sign up to the series e-mail list below, and I'll send you series updates and all the freebies straight to your inbox!

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    5 free apps that will boost productivity, improve concentration, and help work to a higher standard

    Your homework: Which productivity apps do you use on the daily? Tell me in a comment below!

    I sincerely hope you found this post, and all the apps in it, super helpful, and thank you so much for taking the time out to read this! I'll see you again very soon!

    All my love,

    Other posts in this series:

    5 steps to getting rid of distractions and increasing productivity + free workbook

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