Productivity apps might sound like something too good to be true. Can mobile or web apps really boost your productivity, help you form good habits, and make your remote work setup more tolerable for you and your coworkers?
In truth, they can… at least if you seek out the best productivity apps instead of using ones with half-baked features.
Today, let’s break down the 17 top productivity apps you can find for Windows, Macs, and all major types of mobile devices.
Todoist (as in “to-do-list”) is one of the best productivity apps on the market today, and is quite similar to Trello in many respects.
In a nutshell, it’ll help you keep track of various tasks on an individual basis rather than for a big group or company.
Within its interface, you’ll be able to set and prioritize different deadlines or tasks, create and organize new and existing tasks, and even set up long-term project goals.
Have a big link-building project to organize? This app can help.
Even better, it’s a great app for visualizing your progress since it has several progress measurement features. If you like watching a progress bar fill as you get closer to success, you’ll likely love this app.
Ultimately, it’s a user-friendly and intuitive tool that can be used across most platforms (i.e. Windows, Mac, all mobile devices, most browsers, etc.).
There’s no reason not to give it a try, especially since it’s offered in a free version.
Check out Wunderlist as well, which is available for Windows, Mac, iOS and Android phones, and Chrome and Safari browsers. It’s a task management app that works for both individuals and teams.
Like the last app, it focuses on to-do lists, taking a common real-world concept, and effortlessly migrating into a digital space.
You’ll be able to create and manage various to-do lists, set deadlines, assigned tasks, set reminders, and make comments or notes on various jobs within your task list.
Thus, it’s a good collaboration tool that facilitates instant feedback to or from your team members. It can be enjoyed for free or for a small subscription fee if you want the full features list.
Slack is well-known thanks to its rapid adoption by organizations and businesses in the coronavirus era. The basic app is a messaging platform that allows remote workers to communicate effortlessly with one another.
It essentially partitions instant messaging chat rooms into different channels that allow team members to come and go as they please, or that can allow managers to have private conversations as they would a physical office.
Instant messaging, status updates, filesharing, voice, and video calls and even screen sharing are all available through this app and its intuitive interface. Slack isn’t quite a full webinar app or site, however.
If you run a small company, paying for the team version of Slack is a great idea if you want to provide a truly collaborative workspace for you and your employees.
The free version is still good for smaller groups within a business.
As mentioned earlier, Trello is a fantastic app that comes in free and paid versions (though the paid version is a little pricey at around $10 per month per user). Still, it has one of the most unique visual styles you can find across all productivity apps.
It’s based on the “Kanban board” productivity system and philosophy that originates from Japan.
In a nutshell, this allows you to place tasks on various cards or boards, and group those tasks together for larger term projects and goals.
You’ll also be to assign different team members to tasks and give them their own deadlines, checklists, and more. It’s a great project management app through and through and is better designed for larger-scale efforts or business-wide task allocation than simple to-do list checking off, overall.
Monday (also available as Monday.com through the web application) is a little pricier than the free apps so far.
But it’s basically a more powerful version of Trello, so it’s a great remote productivity app for large-scale teams and organizations.
Any project you make through the Monday interface can be viewed in multiple ways. Creating and grouping tasks, as well as assigning them to teammates and adding due dates, is pretty quick and easy.
Teammates can even update their status for various tasks so everyone knows how things are going with a quick glance at the screen.
You’ll be able to easily track progress, assign or manage weekly task loads, and upload and share files so that everyone in your organization has the resources they need at the touch of a button.
It’s a fantastic app for its visual elements and its overall ease-of-use for your entire team.
Taskade is available for Windows, Mac, both primary mobile device providers and web browsers.
It’s a collaboration and project management tool for smaller business teams; you’ll be able to toggle multiple views of projects in a single click to get a short summary of how things are progressing across your organization.
Even better, Taskade allows you to collaborate in real-time with your other teammates using live chat functionalities and real-time project management tools.
A team calendar and roadmap are also both available, so organizing things across your organization is quick and easy. Video calls are available for personal chats, too.
The team calendar is one last excellent aspect that allows everyone in your organization to see what everyone else is doing so you can manage schedules fairly.
Check out Calendar, another free alternative to Google Calendar that also includes a paid version upwards of $10 per month.
This version provides even more features. In a nutshell, this productivity app will connect all your calendars into one screen, making managing all of your deadlines and obligations much easier to grasp.
Furthermore, it provides you with plenty of tools to wrangle your various deadlines into control.
For instance, you can create events in Calendar or in your other calendar apps and everything will automatically be synced together.
You can easily schedule team meetings without having to use email interfaces.
Plus, Calendar even comes with ancillary tools, like analytics measuring functions, that can help you boost your productivity across your organization.
The best feature overall is how it lets you handle your meetings. Anyone integrated with the app will be able to choose their own meeting times and book them appropriately depending on availability hours.
It’ll also alert you if there are any conflicting schedule issues as meetings are booked. Simply put, there’s nothing easier to use when it comes to scheduling team members across a big, remotely working organization.
This automation-focused productivity app will help you and your team save tons of time by removing the need to perform repetitive tasks or swap between different apps.
It connects and sends data between apps like Gmail or Trello. This means you don’t have to open both of those apps to get relevant information; just look into Zapier and everything will be there already!
Furthermore, you can use Zapier to automate different tasks between your various productivity apps.
Prebuilt automation workflows are included even with the free version, and these are updated for new, popular productivity apps all the time, so Zapier is likely to get even better over the coming months.
Until then, you can even build your own automated tasks for apps that aren’t yet in Zapier’s library.
Zapier does have a minor free version, but you’ll probably want to upgrade to at least the $20 per month’s subscription for real value.
# 9 Loop
Loop is a productivity app, but it’s a little different from the others we’ve reviewed so far. It’s an exclusive app for Android phones that helps you spend your time more wisely by helping you form beneficial habits.
For instance, it’ll let you set targets for things you want to spend more time doing, allowing you to customize your efforts according to your needs.
You can set specific times, dates, and even weekly schedules to ensure that your goals are achievable. Then Loop will help you commit to those habits by gently reminding you of your obligations and goals.
It’s a great personal productivity improvement out for these reasons. It even gives you a nice habit score so you can periodically see how you’re doing with your individual habits or your productivity goals overall.
Notion is an app available for Windows, Macs, iPhones, and Android devices, and it comes with a free version, although paid versions are as cheap as $4 per month.
It’s marketed as “your team’s long-term memory” or the “missing half of Slack”.
All this means is that it’s a single collaborative location for all your team or business’s resources like documentation, guidelines, or research materials.
It’ll allow you to quickly share files between team members, even across different productivity apps, and you can create a central “team wiki” that combines all the essential info and guidelines team members might need future work.
Live collaboration, your team members can work on tasks together in real-time, is also offered.
It’s a great way to tie all your team’s efforts together instead of having everyone open five apps at once to get a single task done.
Serene is both an organization app and a great tool to help you boost your working habits.
Specifically, Serene (only available for Mac OS systems, unfortunately) always prompts you to set one goal for the day and will then help you break that goal into achievable tasks to prevent you from becoming distracted.
It also has you work in short, timed sessions with brief breaks in between each session.
This burst-fire working pattern is supposedly better for the human brain and overall productivity, so you can theoretically do more work under Serene’s guidance than you would otherwise.
It’s ultimately a great productivity app if you normally feel overwhelmed with your workload and need help focusing on one task or step at a time.
Other interesting features include website or app blockers, modifiable session timers, day planners, and even background music to help you focus.
Spark is not available for Windows platforms, but it’s one of the best intelligent email clients around.
It features a smart inbox that can automatically categorize your emails from all the accounts you tether to its central database.
If you have multiple work emails you don’t want to spend a half-hour sifting through every day, this is the app for you.
Other features include smart notifications (so you’re only notified when you get a really important email) or email assignments.
This last feature allows you to assign different emails to different team members to help with task dispersal.
Other email reminders and functions are included, of course. It’s overall a phenomenal email management system.
WeDo is available for Macs, iPhones, Android devices and the Chrome browser, and was originally designed for students. These days, it’s most often used by professionals in need of help balancing their work/life ratio.
In brief, WeDo will let you create and manage various tasks, set up due dates, and can essentially perform as a centralized task management app. It’ll also help you develop good habits through the creation of habit lists.
It does this in part by asking you how long tasks typically take you, which it then turns into data reports and helpful advice you can use to maximize the efficiency of your routines.
It has plenty of other features to make it worthwhile, including time estimates based on past performance, sub-task functions to help you break up bigger jobs into more manageable steps, and more.
TickTick works for most of the major platforms and can be used with either a free or paid version. It’s a productivity platform that will help you organize big workloads.
The paid version is particularly good since it can help you improve the habits that you carry out over a typical workday.
In a nutshell, TickTick will help you add new tasks quickly and easily, organize your various folders and other tasks across four levels of priority, help you create different smart lists to prioritize things that need to be done today as opposed to things that can wait until tomorrow.
It even has “achievement scores” for motivational purposes.
Most importantly, it gives you tons of stats to help you see how efficient you are throughout your workday. A “Pomo Timer” can optionally be used to increase your productivity in short bursts.
HabitHub is available for Android devices at the moment, although iOS functionality is supposed to come sometime in the near future. It’s also totally free, and it’s a great habit improvement app through and through.
HabitHub starts new “chains” within the app interface every time you complete a habit.
Then it presents those chains with easy to understand visual markers, which can help with both motivation and help you put thought toward new helpful habits.
Visualization is further emphasized with the help of beautiful habit graphs, which can give you overviews to see how well you’re doing and help you identify any patterns you need to work on to make your habits even more effective.
Reminders and rewards are also available – these, again, can help you maintain motivation as you work to develop healthy habits over the long-term.
It’s a top-tier app if you want to boost how much work you get done in a given day.
Done is available for mobile platforms only and comes with free and very cheap paid tiers.
It’s another habit development app that features a minimalistic and calming interface. It basically lets you set various daily, monthly, weekly, and yearly goals, and allows you to track those habits several times per day.
As you complete habits, you build up streaks, and Done will let you know when you’re doing a good job. You can easily plan your progress thanks to the simplistic and colorful interface.
Furthermore, trends are always recorded over longer periods so you’ll see how you progress over a year instead of just over the course of a day.
It’s nothing fancy, but it’s a great pick if you want a simple app that does this one habit-tracking job very well.
RescueTime is available for most major platforms and comes with a free version, although the paid version is a bit more comprehensive in terms of features.
It’s a productivity app that can run securely in the background of whatever device you install it on, and it tracks how long you spent on applications and websites.
It then breaks down this data to tell you, in plain terms, how you really spend your time. Using the charts and graphs, you’ll be able to see how you waste time and how you can improve your productivity going forward.
It also comes with additional features like website and app blocking functions or the ability to set goals.
You can even set different alarms to let you know when you’ve spent too much time on a given app or website. If you work best when someone is looking over your shoulder, RescueTime may be a great fit.
What Are Productivity Apps?
Productivity apps are a relatively recent brand of mobile apps that have become increasingly popular over the last decade.
They vary dramatically in terms of complexity and download size, but they’re all developed with the intention of boosting personal or team-wide productivity.
Some apps do this by making meetings, coordinating or collaborating easier, and are ideal for teams and businesses.
Others improve productivity by focusing on the individual, emphasizing positive habit building and eliminating time-wasting.
Why Use a Productivity App?
There are plenty of reasons why you might benefit from a productivity app.
They Help You Build Good Habits
For starters, many productivity apps can help you build good habits. Building good habits is always harder than leaning into our natural desires.
But for many, it’s a lot easier to build a good habit with the gentle reminder from a productivity app or the ease-of-use that comes with a planning app.
They Let You Plan Work More Efficiently
Speaking of planning, productivity apps will allow you to plan work for yourself and your business or team a lot more efficiently.
This frees up time and makes everyone feel like they’re more productive, improving morale even further.
They Give You More Free Time
Many productivity apps will eventually get you more free time, either through boosting overall productivity or helping you maintain good habits that lead to better long-term results.
They Make You Feel More in Control
Perhaps most importantly, productivity apps will help you feel more in control of your life and your daily routine. Especially now, working either remotely or in an office can feel too cluttered and chaotic.
Productivity apps allow you to make sense out of the mess and grasp the time that tends to slip by throughout the day.
Do Productivity Apps Actually Work?
Productivity apps can very well boost your productivity and habit building, but they can’t do all that work alone.
Like many things, you get more value out of productivity apps the more effort you put into using them correctly and consistently.
They won’t be able to turn your company’s productivity around or stop you from having bad habits by themselves – you need to commit to their tools, too.
How Do You Get the Most Value Out of Productivity Apps?
You can make the most out of any productivity app (or multiple apps) that you decide to download or purchase by using them consistently and every day.
Use them frequently so you get used to enjoying their features and making them a staple part of your daily routine.
Furthermore, if you pick up one or more productivity apps for your business or team, make sure that everyone on that team understands how to use the app and is committed to using it as frequently as everyone else.
Overall, the above 17 productivity apps are some of the best you can find, and they’re far and away better than the original productivity apps that first cropped up some years ago.
These apps are tried-and-true and have provided individuals and businesses with tons of benefits – try them out for yourself and you won’t be disappointed.