12 Killer Apps for Work, Life & Business Productivity

Improve Work Productivity with Apps

We’re almost two and a half months into 2013, and if improving your productivity is still a New Year’s resolution you’re battling, you are in luck.

Improve Work Productivity with Apps

A lot of great apps and programs are available to make your life easier. We’ve seen the introduction of a ton of killer apps for business users that kick up productivity, save time, lower costs and just basically make your life easier.

Best of all, most are free. Those that aren’t will cost you under $20.

Sure, we’ve all heard of Evernote and OmniFocus, but here are 12 more that are designed to make life a little easier to navigate.

  • Box is a Cloud service that allows for backing up and sharing documents online. Its top draw is that you can view your documents and send them on any device. Another big plus to Box is that you can keep your projects on track by assigning and managing tasks, assign others to review and update a file, create custom tasks and get real-time activity feeds. Box provides anytime, anywhere access to your files from any device, and even better, it’s free!
  • Waze is a traffic app that I’ve fallen in love with having spent my last week driving around the traffic congested Bay area.  Waze crowdsources traffic, reports of police, and gas prices keeping you in the know no matter where you are. The app is free and has saved us much time and frustration traveling to a new city and area.
  • CardMunch is a new app that converts business cards into contacts and adds those contacts on LinkedIn. Just use your iOS device to snap a picture of the business card. Upload it into CardMunch and the information automatically adds to the phone and to LinkedIn. I particularly like this app, because if you’re anything like me, you can get over a dozen business cards in one event, at least. Though it takes a few minutes to upload the information, it definitely saves space and time if you have a lot of contacts. CardMunch is also free.
  • Clear. Making to-do lists is a good way to keep track of tasks and jobs throughout the day, and Clear is a very pretty, easy-to-use to-do list app. Clear makes managing tasks simple as it doesn’t have the million and one features that current favorite OmniFocus has. Instead, it looks like a pretty piece of stationary that allows you to jot down what you need to do. To add an item, just pull down on a list. Swipe an item when it’s completed. You can also drag around tasks to rearrange them and swipe to change lists. This app is $2.99 and available on iOS.
  • 30/30 is an app that brags that “it helps you get stuff done.” Using 30/30, you set up a list of tasks that need to be completed as well as a length of time for each task. Start the timer, and the app lets you know when to move on to the next task. Easy to use, 30/30 is controlled through gestures, and it keeps it simple. The display shows “What am I supposed to be doing now?” and “How much time do I have left to do it?” That’s it. 30/30 is free to download from iTunes.
  • My Minutes is an iPhone app that tracks how long you spend over a long period of time working on particular tasks. This app is cool in that it lets you set the minimum or maximum amount of time to spend doing a task and then rewards you by building up streaks of green as you meet time goals. The app also has a daily morning notification that tells you what you need to do at the start of the day. It’s also easy to change and modify goals in My Minutes as well. This is a free app as well.
  • Fantastical. If you’re using a Mac, try out one of the most attractive calendar programs offered – Fantastical. This program lets you quickly make sense of your schedule, track your tasks and get reminders to quickly update your to-do list. Fantastical also allows users to change and control events with single keystrokes and then choose the number of events to be displayed. Just click on any event on the Fantastical calendar, and more details will be displayed. For those looking for an easy, manageable calendar, Fantastical is perfect for $19.99 from the Mac Store.  I use their mobile and desktop versions.
  • Drafts. Need a quick and easy way to capture and share text? Try Drafts, a new text sharing app that can forward information to social media sites, calendars and other apps. When using Draft, open the app and get a new draft ready to type. You can type out the text and decide to send it to Twitter, Facebook or email; save it to Dropbox or Evernote; or forward it to other apps. If you don’t know what to do with the text or want to save it, just save it as a draft. Recent drafts are easy to find. The extensive options allow you to save, send or forward information. Not bad for $2.99.
  • iAnnotate for iPad is a great tool for marking up documents. You can choose pen types, highlighters, stamps and even record voice notes and share edited PDFs. You can set up your own set of custom highlighter colors, draw and import new stamps like a signature and more. iAnnotate also allows users to drag and drop tools to create custom uses, and unlike other apps like this, you can scroll down to see the entire document.  The search option can search the full text of every document you have imported or can be customized for unread, recent or new documents. This app costs $9.99.
  • Paper by 53. If typing everything out isn’t cutting it and you need a way to think things out visually, Paper by 53 is a tool that allows for sketches, diagrams and other visual cues. The free app is easy to use and comes with a basic drawing tool. Paper’s ink engine reacts to the user’s movements, allowing for a wide range of expressions from a single tool. You can do water colors, graphs, drawings and handwriting on the single app. Take your ideas and drawings and share them via email or on Facebook and Twitter.
  • 1Password. If you are anything like me, you probably have about a billion passwords to remember. How much time do you use hitting the “forgot password” link on whatever sites and accounts you need to access? Hooray for 1Password, a program that allows you to save all your passwords in one place. Best thing is that you only need to remember one master password to access the password storage. Folders and tags make it even easier to find the password you need, and you can even categorize by suppliers, clients, sites and more. It’s available for Mac and Windows, as well as iPhone, iPad and Android.
  • Google Voice.  Not a new app at all but something I use daily to help separate my work and life as a mom, business woman and wife.  I have a second phone number on my phone that I use for business.  I can send and receive text messages and am provided a text transcription of a voicemail sent to wherever I choose.  I cover all my bases with text, email, and voicemail just in case. The translation isn’t always 100% so you will get a chuckle out of what words Google translates to.  All this at no cost to you.

Best Apps for Increasing Productivity

What productivity life, work or business tool is helping you be a better you? Share with us your favorite productivity app.

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Learn more about Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource, and the host of the Workology Podcast. More of her blogs can be found here.

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