Top productivity tools for working smarter

Just one month left until the beginning of New Year 2018.  Could it be a better time to reassess your 2017 New Year resolutions and start planning your  2018?

Even though proper planning is important (Read more: Planning before everything), we should not forget that half of the success depends on having the right tools. Therefore, an annual review of tools & systems you use will optimize your workflow to get closer to achieving your goals.

In this post, I would like to share with you top 5 apps that have significantly improved my productivity & daily life.

Probably you have already heard about these apps, however, keep in mind that just “hearing” about tools is never enough: you need to try them by yourself, work with them and study best practices, adjust your workflow & routines accordingly, – and only then you can objectively assess if these tools suit your needs or not.


11. Trello for task & project management

You do not have to be a certified Project Management professional to realize that almost everything in our daily life can be seen as a project: writing your master thesis, looking for a job, organizing your grandma’s B-Day party or going on a road-trip to the South of Spain with your friends. In each case, there is a large overall goal, a timeline & limited resources to achieve it, several milestones & deliverables in between,  risk management to increase the likelihood of the perfect outcome. While planning it all, you might not use exactly the same terms, but you will definitely follow the same logic. Managing projects & keeping track of the progress is very important to achieve your objectives, therefore, a good project management software for both personal & professional goals is a must-have.

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Trello is an incredibly simple tool for project & task management. It consists of boards, lists, and cards, which altogether using a Kanban method creates a very flexible system for individuals or teams to track a project and collaborate. If you open a card, you can add comments, upload files, create checklists, add labels and due dates, and much more.

Moreover, there is a large number of Power-Ups available: calendar view or Gantt Chart of your project, agile tools, video conference functionality, voting & integration with other crucial tools like Twitter, SurveyMonkey, Salesforce, Slack, Google Drive & others.

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You can easily organize all your life with Trello and finally take everything under control. Want even more ideas? To make it even easier Trello team developed several templates that you can use straight away –  Board of Templates (each card is a template you can copy to your account) or inspiring boards. More about Trello: 1, 2)

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22. Evernote for content management

With 200mln+ users around the world, Evernote is one of the most popular productivity apps. In its early days, Evernote was a simple note-taking app to capture, organize, recall, and work with your information, however since then, it’s turned into a true productivity powerhouse: an online spot to store anything and everything you might find of interest or use. The more you add, the more useful it becomes.

How does it work? You organize your Notes into Notebooks and use Tags to categorize different Notes into common topics. It is extremely easy to create notes: you can add directly via an app, send an email,  clip posts, photos, links directly from your browser using Web Clipper. You can collect notes from different devices and then all of it will be instantly synchronized. Keep in mind, that Notes aren’t limited to simple text: you can easily add anything else from your device or directly from the cloud: photos, audio recordings, MP3, video, Excel, pdf files.  The best part is that thanks to text recognition functionality, all this information will become easily “searchable”.

Learn more about how to use Evernote: 1 

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33. Pocket for “read later” list management

While Evernote is considered as “archive forever”, Pocket is focused only on managing bookmarks you want to “Read Later”. With a pocket mobile app & browser add-on, any time you see an interesting article or post you want to read later or video you want to watch later, you easily save it into the pocket by clicking on the Pocket button and it will appear straight away in your app without ads, visual distractions, sidebars. If you wish, you can also add tags to classify all the articles based on different topics.

My favorite Pocket function that differentiates it from many other bookmarker apps is an advanced text to speech functionality, which enables you to listen to your saved articles instead or reading it. Productivity-addicts can even increase the speed of speech to consume more information in a shorter amount of time.  When you start reading an article and have to stop in a middle of it, your progress will be saved and synced around all the devices. When you finished reading, you can either archive a link or save it to your bookmarks.

Moreover, Pocket is a great source of new articles to read. You can subscribe to the thought-leaders and follow what they read. Pocket also sends you wonderful newsletters with popular articles based on the topics of your interests and on the previous articles you read. On the website, you can use an “Explore” section looking for a popular material on any topic of interest.

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44. Blinkist for “smart reading”

Speaking further about optimizing reading habits, Blinkist probably is one of the best tools to accelerate your learning. If becoming an expert on several topics is in your Resolution list, you definitely need to try it out.  Blinkist gives you an access to key insights from 2000+ bestselling nonfiction books in a form of structured “blinks” you can read or listen in just 15 minutes. There is also a highlighter function that makes it easier to keep track of key learnings. You can access several books with a free account, but you need to upgrade to premium to get access to the full collection.

Learn more about “smart reading”: How to read more books?

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55. Zapier for integrating everything

Here comes the best part: all the apps mentioned above could be easily integrated and automated using Zapier. Zapier is a tool that allows you to connect apps you use every day to automate tasks and save time. It lets you create connections to push data from one app to another using triggers and actions. They call each connection, made up of a single trigger and a single action, a “Zap”. Zapier can connect 750+  apps together to make your own automation. It’s very quick and easy to set up – you don’t need to or know programming to create a Zap from scratch.

Let’s see how we can use Zapier to build an integrated workflow:

  • every time you receive an EMAIL from your customer, a new TRELLO card  is created to track the status
  • every time you receive an EMAIL ATTACHMENT, it is saved directly to your GOOGLE DRIVE
  • every time you save something in your EVERNOTE tagging it as #design, a new TRELLO card is created under DESIGN list
  • every time you bookmark an article in the POCKET, a new note is created in Evernote under a notebook ” favorite articles”
  • every time you finish reading a BLINK, a new note with all the highlights is created in EVERNOTE under a notebook “blinkist”

If you want to see what other zaps are already available, check this list of  350+ popular Zaps across fifteen different categories ranging from email, project management to e-commerce, digital marketing and  customer support (1)  and success stories about adoption (2)

Also, Zapier has a killer blog about all productivity related topics: must-follow.

Learn more about productivity apps for your email management”: How to optimize your Email? p.1

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I hope you found this post useful and you will apply some of these tips to optimize your workflow in 2018. Using right tools in an integrated ecosystem will enable you to eliminate a lot of stressful and time-consuming administrative tasks, which will let you focus only on what is truly important – achieving your goals.

Please do not forget to share this post with your friends and feel free to write your thoughts in the comment section.

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If you would like to learn more about productivity and you consider productivity coaching on the individual basis, please feel free the form below:

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