The longer I blog (I’ve been doing it for a while now) the more I feel the need to increase my daily productivity. I mean, who doesn’t? Fortunately, app developers have recognized this widespread need and have been creating efficiency apps to help people like us increase our productivity. I’ve already written a couple of tutorials about improving efficiency (How to Edit Photos at Lightspeed in Photoshop and How to Use Asana to Stay Organized).
Here are a few of the apps that I use to get more done in a day, and why I like them.
Type: Web-based / WP Plugin
This is a wonderful app that basically combines the social post scheduling functions of apps like Hootsuite with the blog post scheduling functionality of a WordPress editorial calendar plugin.
So, it’s a single application that enables you to keep track of scheduled blog posts and to schedule social posts (whether for that blog post or not) right from within the calendar.
And it integrates into WordPress, so within WordPress you have the option of viewing and working on all of your scheduled blog and social posts in a drag-and-drop calendar view or, after you’ve finished writing a post, you can scroll down to the CoSchedule box and schedule social posts to promote the blog post right there. Or, you perform all of the same functions through your account on the CoSchedule website.
This is a paid app, but at $10/month it’s totally worth it. And you can try it out for two weeks for free.
This simple free app helps with a problem everyone who works online has: staying focussed on the task at hand. Self Control allows you to create a blacklist of websites that distract you while you’re working. Then, all you do is start the app, set the amount of time you want those websites blocked, and hit start.
Once you block the websites there is no way to access them (on that computer) until the time is up. A little timer will appear to let you know how much time you have left, which is also handy for keeping track of how much time you’re spending on a task. For example, I know that this blog post has taken me around two hours to write and post.
Type: Mac or PC
Focus Booster is a tool based on the pomodoro productivity technique. Basically, the idea is that you can be more productive if you work in short sprints with little breaks in between. A common split is 30 minutes working and 5 minutes of break time.
Focus Booster is a free simple desktop app that allows you to set your work and break times. You also have the option of hearing the clock tick (maybe that’s motivational for some, but it annoys the hell out of me) and having an alarm go off when each period of time ends. So, it’s basically an alarm clock to keep you on your pomodoro schedule which I’ve found not only to help me stay focussed, but also to track the amount of time I’m spending on tasks, which is essential to increasing productivity.
Type: Web-based, Android, and IOS
Asana is a free web-based project management application that also has IOS and Android apps. It’s incredibly powerful. It’s basically a glorified to-do list that offers enough organizational features to satisfy even the most OCD person.
Your can create numerous projects, each of which has a to-do list. Each item on the list can have sub-items to break the task down into steps. Each item can also have other people added to it, who will be updated every time progress is made on the task. Files, Dropbox items, or Google Docs can all be attached. Deadlines can be set and viewed on a calendar.
Asana is good to use alone, but is amazing when you’re collaborating with others.
To learn more, check out my introduction to Asana tutorial here.
Type: Mac, PC, or Web-based
Photoshop is not just a photo editing software. It’s an enormously powerful tool for creating workflows that can save hours of time. Unfortunately for most people, only advanced users ever really learn how to make Photoshop do the work for them.
That’s why I created this tutorial, which explains how you can set up and execute a workflow that I often use, which enables you to literally edit a dozen photos in just a few minutes.
If you don’t have Photoshop, worry not. The tutorial includes a link to an older, free version of Photoshop. Also, the cloud-based version has become quite affordable (right now it’s only $9.99/month), and is well worth checking out.