These days, it seems like everyone has so much more to do, and so much less time to do it. The honest reality is, we all have the same 24 hours to work with, but different circumstances and situations can drastically influence how much of those hours we can actually make use of.
Still, while we can’t magically change our situation, we can learn how to use the time we do have more intentionally – which can help us get more done. And the good news is, there are more resources than ever to help us get there.
Instead of trying to overhaul your time management skills alone, check out our recommendations for the best productivity apps to help take back some of your time.
First, find your chronotype
Before you start trying to work on your productivity, it can be helpful to know when you’re naturally most productive. You can find this out by discovering your chronotype.
Your chronotype is simply when your body naturally wants to sleep vs. be awake and alert. Unlike our circadian rhythms which can be trained to fit our schedule, our chronotype isn’t changeable, i.e., some people are just natural night owls or early birds.
There are four chronotypes: lion, bear, wolf, and dolphin. Each type is distinct in when they want to sleep versus when they feel most awake and productive. What’s more, there are guides to each type that’ll help you fit your days around when you’re naturally going to be most productive.
Now that you know your chronotype and how it affects your energy and productivity, let’s get into the best apps to help get things done.
The best productivity apps
Not ranked in any particular order, here are some of our favorite time management apps, sorted by their function.
Apps that help you see where your time is going
One of the best apps for tracking your time and how you’re spending it has to be RescueTime. As it runs in the background of your phone or tablet, RescueTime automatically tracks and categorizes the websites and apps you’re spending time in. You can also block those time-sucking sites and apps too.
If you’re like me and love to gamify everything, Forest could be the perfect fit for you. A time tracker, Pomodoro timer, app blocker, and eco-conscious game all rolled up in one app, Forest allows you to collect trees and gold coins to build a virtual forest.
Bonus, once you’ve collected enough coins, you can cash them in and the company will plant real trees! Especially for people who appreciate gentle reminders to stay on task, rather than a cut-and-dry time report, Forest is great.
Apps that keep you on task
To-Do lists can be a great way to keep yourself on track, but can quickly become overwhelming if not organized properly. ToDoIst is a simple task management app that allows you to group tasks together based on projects.
For example, if you’re working on a project with several moving parts, this app will help you stay on top of what specific tasks you need to accomplish each day. You can also share and assign tasks to others as well.
For people who already make heavy use of Google’s suite of software, GoogleTasks provides a simple way to sync all your information together into one easy-to-navigate hub. You can add tasks and break them down into smaller subtasks, and even create tasks directly from your email.
One of the most popular project management apps for teams, Trello allows users to organize tasks according to their status (to-do, going, and done). Tasks can be grouped and assigned to specific team members with deadlines and checklists, and the app features instant messaging to streamline communication.
If you like to organize things through spreadsheets, AirTable is a great alternative to Excel or Google Sheets. Perfect for total spreadsheet newbies and pros alike, this app is functional, intuitive, and makes it easy to visualize, assign, and organize tasks. Plus like Trello, you’ve got instant messaging capabilities.
Apps that keep you on schedule
Scheduling meetings can be a slog, especially when you have to go back and forth over email. If you want to cut that wasted time entirely out of your workflow, try Calendy. It syncs with your calendar and asks you to choose your availability preferences for each day.
When you want to schedule a meeting with someone, just send them your Calendy link and they can choose a time you’re free. Simple as that.
This web app allows you to sync together all your various calendars into one easy-to-use interface. And like Calendy, it makes scheduling meetings without emailing back and forth a breeze. Plus, each meeting is automatically transcribed – a great tool for remote teams especially.
Apps that keep you calm
Especially if you’re self-employed or work in a fast-paced environment, it can be easy to get overwhelmed by the number of tasks or projects you have to complete. Serene helps you focus on only one task at a time by asking you to set a single goal for each day. You can then break that goal into a number of tasks, which you’ll then be able to work through in timed sessions.
No more procrastinating by doing tasks not related to your daily goal.
For many people, music has the ability to both calm and focus. And as it turns out, different types of music are better for different types of work. Depending on your goal, you can choose stations that will play curated playlists designed to help you meet that goal.
Sometimes, you need help clearing your head and focusing on the task at hand. Calm is a guided meditation app offering a variety of meditations and mindfulness experiences targeting things like focus, stress, anxiety, and more.
Whether you use it before work to get you into the right headspace or use it during the day when you’re feeling unfocused, leaning into the art of mindfulness can help you stay on track and feel less overwhelmed.
Apps that give you your time back
Companies today can take advantage of automation technology, so why shouldn’t you be able to do the same within your own life?
IFTT (If This, Then That) is an app that connects different apps across your devices and lets you automate everything from daily tasks like tracking work hours to reminding you to get up and move every hour.
The sky’s pretty much the limit when it comes to this app, so if you can get creative, you can easily save a decent chunk of time each day.
If you use an Android device, you’re probably aware of just how malleable the software is. AutomateIt takes advantage of that and allows users to automate a variety of tasks on their phones. You can personalize everything to your taste to make sure the app works with your chronotype and productivity style.
If any of these time management apps look helpful to you, don’t forget to bookmark this page for easy access. And check out the rest of the Paychecks & Balances blog for more tips on productivity, personal finance, and more.
Get Our Newsletter!
Join our free email community to get our newsletter with actionable tips and interesting reads to help you navigate your finances and career.