6 genius apps that are boosting my productivity in 2020

As a freelancer or remote worker, your computer is your main work tool. So, the apps you choose can make a difference in your productivity and how enjoyable you find work.

Nobody wants to waste an afternoon struggling with apps that don’t work or don’t have the right features.

Your needs change with your goals and career. Luckily, with so many options in the market nowadays, finding the right apps for your projects is easier than ever. 

I’ve written about productivity apps before, but since then I’ve upgraded my equipment and discovered new, better options for my current work. So, I’ve put together a list with the 6 most useful productivity apps I’ve been using so far, along with an alternative for you to try out.

Agenda

I’ve tried several note-taking, project management and writing apps over the years, but none included exactly what I needed. Then I came across Agenda.

Agenda is a powerful note-taking app for MacOS with plenty of features to help you run your projects in one place. Its robust text editor supports formatted text and attachments, and allows you to organise your notes in different ways. 

Agenda is free to use with most of its most essential features, but the paid subscription gives you even more flexibility.

How does it help me stay productive?

What I like the most about Agenda is its integration with my calendar and the ability to create events, link notes to those events, and create reminders. 

For example, every new blog post is an event scheduled in my calendar, with a note containing the blog post linked to it. When I’ve finished writing the post, I mark the task as finished and remove it from my agenda. 

Yes, I use dark mode for everything.

About Agenda:

Available for macOS, iOS.

Free with basic functionality, $25 to upgrade to premium features.  Their subscription model lets you keep the unlocked premium features even if you don’t renew it. A subscription gives you access to any new features released during that year.

Alternative: Evernote

ContentStudio

It takes time and effort to keep your social media up and running, but the right app and planning can make this task easier.

In my case, I came across one app that has everything I need, and more.

I bought the lifetime version of ContentStudio a few years ago, and I have no regrets. ContentStudio is a powerful social media management and content marketing tool to help you take control of your social media and content in one place. It doesn’t just let you schedule social media posts for different platforms, it also helps curate and share external content, promote your blog posts, track your analytics and even generate reports.

How does it help me stay productive?

I admit I don’t use Contentstudio to its full potential. What I like the most about this app is its publishing features, which helps share customised content in different platforms.

After all, you wouldn’t post the same copy on Instagram and Twitter, right?

Furthermore, its Discovery feature allows me to curate content without time-consuming Google searches. 

About ContentStudio:

Available as a web app and for Android.

Alternative: Buffer

Airtable

Excel gives you nightmares? Try Airtable, instead.

Airtable is an online collaboration tool that combines spreadsheets with database features to manage all kinds of projects, from content calendars to personal budgets. You can customize every column with a different type, like check boxes, dates, or drop-down lists.

It organises your projects in bases, each one with as many spreadsheets as you need. Start a new base from scratch or choose among several templates available, both from Airtable and other users. More interestingly, although the spreadsheet is the default view, you can also switch to a calendar or a Kanban view.

How does it help me stay productive?

I use Airtable to keep track of my business-related projects, from my budget and finances to my job-hunting process and my editorial calendars. It’s flexible enough to let me edit the bases as I go along without getting too complicated. 

About Airtable:

Available for web, Android, iOS, Windows, macOS.

Free with basic functionality, $20/month to upgrade to premium features. 

Alternative: Google Spreadsheets

Workona

Credit: Workona

How many bookmarks do you have? And how many of those have you used again? My guess is, way too many.

This is where workspaces come into play.

With Workona, a Chrome extension, you can create workspaces on your browser to keep important links handy and save tabs when it’s time to switch to a different project.

How does it help me stay productive?

I’ve created workspaces for every project I’m working on, and for personal time online. This helps me work with fewer distractions, keep useful links at hand, and return to pending tasks faster.

About Workona:

Available for Chrome

Free with limited features, $6 per month for the Pro version, including unlimited workspaces and priority support.

Alternative: Toby

Qbserve

Credit: Qbserve

Tracking your time is one of the best ways to use it more efficiently. Automated tracking does the heavy lifting for you and generates enough data to help you optimise your day.

Qbserve is one of the many apps on the market that does that, but it offers plenty more functionality to make it an excellent tool for freelancers. For example, it includes automatic project tracking, invoice generation, and in-depth performance reports.

How does it help me stay productive?

The most useful feature for me is the timesheet, which shows how I’ve spent my time on the computer. It helps me find patterns of productivity and distraction and gives me an idea of how long I take to complete a project.

About Qbserve:

Available for macOS

Free trial, 1 payment of 27 euros for all premium features.

Alternatives: RescueTime

Audible

It’s not all about the hustle, right?

I used to be sceptical of audiobooks until I listened to ‘The heart’s invisible furies’ by John Boyne, a few months ago. I would have finished it in two months instead of two weeks if it wasn’t for the audiobook. Since then, I’ve started listening to more audiobooks to speed up my reading. 

Although it’s not the only audiobook service on the market, Audible is the most popular. And with its large selection of titles and original productions, you’ll have plenty of options to beef up your listening queue and keep you entertained.

How does it help me stay productive?

I’ve found that music is distracting sometimes. After all, it’s hard to edit a blog post if I’m head-banging to Arctic Monkeys’ b-sides. So, listening to an audiobook for a few hours helps me get in the zone and keeps work entertaining. 

But productivity is not all that matters. With audiobooks, I’ve started making progress on books I had been reading for months, so I no longer feel guilty about taking so long to finish one book. In turn, this keeps me motivated and ready to start the next one.

About Audible:

Available for iOS, Windows, Android, and web player.

1 month free trial, then $14.99 per month with one free book.

Alternative: Libby

As your projects and tasks change, you might find you have to explore other apps that fit those needs. But with so many options, the problem will be deciding on one. Hopefully, this list will give you a few ideas.

Have you discovered a new app in 2020 that boosted your productivity and made your life easier? Let us know in the comments below?

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