In a world where new apps are created daily, it feels sometimes like it’s hard to stay organized and on top of all the tasks that we have to do, especially when we’re getting constant notifications about news alerts, text messages, emails, and likes.
It’s gotten so pervasive that there’s even a movement to re-focus our attention — using technology itself — called Time Well Spent. “We check our phones 150 times per day,” the site says. “Every time we are interrupted, it takes up to 23 minutes to resume focus, fragmenting our attention and leaving us constantly distracted.” And if you check out this quick but interesting read by Google design thinker Tristan Harris, he provides even more background on how we get psychologically hacked by our devices!
But if there’s one role that technology should play for us, it's that it should streamline our lives and make things easier and more convenient — not more complicated or distracting. We know there’s no shortage of organizational apps available on the app store, but which ones truly work?
Here are 32 mobile apps — some functioning as to-do lists and others simply rocking our mess-strewn worlds — that will streamline your life and help you regain control over where you direct your attention. Give them a go, and start focusing on what you really need to.
1. InboxWhenReady helps you minimize the total amount of time you spend in your Gmail inbox by allowing you to only view your inbox when you choose to, pre-set an inbox budget, and set a schedule for locking your inbox so you can focus on other things — not just your email.
2. Freedom lets you temporarily block certain websites or apps that you’d like to avoid, or block the Internet altogether, for pre-determined amounts of time that you set. This app is only compatible with ios devices, including your Macbook, iPhone and iPad, however; Android device owners should seek liberation elsewhere!
3. AdBlock Plus lets you block intrusive ads so you can surf the web in peace.
4. Pocket lets you save resources and articles directly from your browser onto your device so you can keep organized, share with others, or view later when you’re ready. Bonus: It’s available for both ios and android devices!
5. Boomerang lets you schedule emails from your Gmail account for later. It’s great for reminders — and for not letting anyone see that you were responding to them at 3am on Saturday.
6. Paprika (Apple, Android, Kindle, Windows) is the recipe and grocery list app you’ve been waiting for. You can look up any recipe online, or manually input a special family recipe of your own, and Paprika will automatically create a shopping list for all of the ingredients you’ll need. You can also set up the app to help while you’re cooking, show instructions, and set timers. Bon appetit!
7. If you’ve got an iPod, iPhone, or iPad, then take advantage of iCloud and use the built-in Reminders feature to set reminders for deadlines, bills, appointments, you name it. Your ios device/task manager will remind you, wherever you are — talk about making technology work for you!
8. Tired of keeping track of approximately one billion passwords? KeePass features the headache-skipping ability to let you use one master password instead, keeping your other passwords safe.
9. Clean Master frees up storage space on your phone by cleaning up the junk.
10. Mint can be a bit overwhelming to set up, but once you do, it’s worth it. You can set up budgets and track your spending in each area; track and pay bills; monitor your credit score; and see all of your money in one place. It’s a life changer.
11. Clue lets you track your menstrual cycle and any related health concerns. After a few months, the app can even begin to give you insight on your cycle, helping you stay on top of what symptoms to expect when, track ovulation and fertility, and (of course) remind you when to stock up on menstrual products.
12. RescueTime helps you do just that by allowing you to track how much time you spend on different mobile apps and websites. Make changes wherever you’re surprised or unhappy with the findings and, as the site proclaims, "find your ideal work-life balance."
13. Moment tracks how much time you spend on your phone each day, and lets you set a limit to force yourself off once you’ve gone over.
14. Yelp lets you look up nearby everything (restaurants, shopping, services, and more) so you can read reviews and make a choice you’ll be happy with in advance.
15). Thanks to 50 percent faster “glide typing,” Gboard's in-app keyboard lets you respond to a message and get off of your phone more quickly.
16. Venmo is king for when you don’t have cash, want to easily split the check, or need to pay back a friend. You sync it with your bank account and can charge or request money from anyone else who’s signed up, easily. No more waiting to split the check, having to go to an ATM for cash, etc. etc.
17. Overdrive lets you rent e-books from your local library without having to actually go to the library. It’s like Netflix for bookworms!
18. If you want to take charge of your life and free yourself from time-pressure, then Time Doctor is just for you! The ideal time tracking and productivity monitoring app that allows you to stay on top of all the tasks and assignments.
19. NightShift is more so one of your phone’s features than an app, but enabling it makes the light from your screen warmer (the regular blue light disrupts our ability to sleep).
Reach Your Goals
22. MyFitnessPal is an incredible tool for tracking your health and fitness goals. You can track calories, weight, meals, and macros seamlessly. There’s even a function that lets you scan or enter in a new food if you can’t find it by searching.
23. DuoLingo is sort of like the free version of Rosetta Stone. It helps you learn languages whenever you have a spare moment, making becoming multi-lingual seem more like a way to pass a commute than a test you have to study for.
24. Similarly, Learn CSS and its related series of apps help you learn in-demand, relevant skills that will boost your career on-the-go.
25. Vouchercloud helps you search the best coupon and discount codes available from leading retailers to help you save money easily.
26. Honey automatically syncs the best possible coupon codes for you at check-out when browsing online, helping you find better deals instantly.
And... Tackle To-Do Lists!
27. Google Tasks is great for digital task management and taking notes because it works in conjunction with your Google Calendar account, meaning you can have a quick visual of your tasks for that day and the week ahead all in one place. It’s super basic (and free!), but will be enough for those who aren’t interested in the bells and whistles of fancier apps.
28. Microsoft was so fond of the to-do list app Wunderlist that it bought the company that created it, and if that’s not a solid sign, then we don’t know what is. The Wunderlist app lets you easily create and share task lists, allowing you to collaborate with coworkers or family members. You could also get Wunderlist Pro as a fairly low-cost in-app purchase, but most users will be plenty satisfied with the free version.
29. The Todoist app remains one of the popular app store choices for those in need of an online task manager, and for good reason. You can separate tasks into projects, drag-and-drop projects to form a hierarchy, color-code priorities, and set separate reminders for when you should start working on a task versus when that task is due. Todoist Premium even rewards you for productivity by scoring your daily work ethic!
30. Firetask is a great way for big-picture thinkers to manage to-do lists and comes with two “views.” The first, Organize, gives you a quick-glance rundown of all your upcoming projects for the next two days, as well as further down the road. The Scratchboard view then lets you jot down notes.
31. Any.do enables you to sync your various task lists and to-do’s across all your devices, create recurring tasks, and make notes via voice-entry. Plus, this task management app helps you compartmentalize what can wait a couple days and what has to be done immediately. Most of its best features come ready to go on the free version!
32. TickTick is another simple yet effective to-do list app. You just list your tasks and tap any of the more complex ones to add subtasks, this turning the task into a project. Todo lists are also automatically organized according to their due date, which takes some of the pressure off of yourself!
What will you do with all of the time and resources you’ve saved by streamlining?
Chelsea is a career coach, trainer, and resume writer with over 5 years of experience working with diverse adults throughout the New York City area. She has worked with jobseekers across industries and professional levels, including immigrants and formerly incarcerated individuals. She loves poetry, travel, and arctic dogs, and lives in Brooklyn, NY.
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