Productivity Tools That Are Worth Adopting


Sometimes it’s hard to work efficiently when distractions like endless email clutter, chats and conversations, or funny YouTube videos get in the way: we cannot concentrate, we forget the important, getting stuck in what clearly isn’t.

It’s obviously much easier to quit scrolling through Facebook updates after having learnt that you wasted almost an entire hour on that yesterday. And this is exactly where these special apps can help: they provide you with accurate data on your productivity, block distractions and remind you of planned tasks.

Time tracking software

For any employee or team, when working on productivity, the key point is knowing where their time goes. Timesheets definitely help understand that, but they traditionally are considered a cumbersome duty and a typical office chore. However, there’s timesheet software that makes timekeeping effortless.

1. actiTIME

A simple but powerful app for tracking time and analyzing obtained information. It allows to record time spent on various tasks in a neat timesheet and shows your results for any specific period in figures and visual charts. actiTIME offers rich reporting that provides valuable data on productivity and work progress for teams and individuals. What’s more, it allows you to keep track of work costs and billable amounts.

2. My Hours

My Hours is an easy to use time tracker. It allows recording time for work assignments using timers, reviewing results, and running reports to see the results. The pro edition of the tool offers billing functionality such as budgeting and invoicing, teamwork, and supervision procedure.

3. Timetrex

Timetrex is available as a paid product and as an open-source community edition. It includes time and attendance tracking, overtime calculation, scheduling, and payroll features. The tool is available for different platforms: Windows, Linux, and macOS.

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Gamified productivity apps

As attractive as our goals may be, we cannot stay focused and motivated all the time. Gamified apps help when we are tired of the routine and need to reclaim concentration: they turn boring to-dos into game challenges and add an extra boost to focus.

1. Habitica

One of the most popular productivity games, Habitica creates an environment for developing focus and improving attitude. In it, you can play as a single player or cooperate with fellows in time-wasting. By completing tasks, you can achieve points, get new gear to build up your avatar, and get rewards. Compete with others for extra motivation, and track your progress!

2. ChoreWars

Washing dishes, cleaning the house, organizing clothes in the closet… How boring is it? ChoreWars adds fun to household duties: it turns them into a game with monsters you need to destroy, rewards you can get, and competitors you need to defeat. The tool is efficient with children, lazy roommates, or members of big families.

3. EpicWin

This tool is a simple to-do list with XP: for each task you’ve completed, you receive points of health, stamina, intellect, spirit, etc. As you receive points, you move forward on the map, discover new locations, and find rare (and fun) items. Needless to say, it’s much more fun than just checking off items in a to-do list.

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Time management apps

When adopting efficient time management habits and practices, special time management apps speed up the process and free up your time. They help you boost concentration, eliminate distracting content and communication, and automate repetitive activities.

1. Yesware

Email distractions are often depicted as the worst enemy of any office employee. And that’s not far from the truth: checking emails too often is disruptive for the task you have to interrupt to open your inbox. Yesware helps you automate your work with inbox: schedule your daily communications, use templates to write emails faster, and manage follow-ups.

2. MindMeister

Organizing and optimizing your work often requires visualization. That’s what mind mapping tools can do for you: plan your workflow, organize your ideas, or structure the information you need to handle. MindMeister is one of the most popular mind mapping apps used by office employees, students, and creative people to stay organized.

3. Pocket

If you have to work with significant amounts of information, try using bookmarking apps for keeping everything you need in one place. Pocket is a perfect app for that: when you discover new, interesting and useful content, save it in the app – and never lose again. Read or watch it later when you have time – even if you don’t have the Internet connection.

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To-do list apps

Being a wise time manager means remembering everything you need to do. But is it possible when you have too much on your plate? Special to-do list apps help remember and organize all things you need to get done. Let’s take a look at them.

1. Wunderlist

Wunderlist is one of the most popular daily planning apps. It keeps your to-dos organized, allows you to share them, and reminds you of deadlines. Collaborate with family, friends and coworkers by sharing to-dos and lists, commenting, and assigning to-dos. Wunderlist works on different platforms to keep your life in sync.

2. One List

An easy to-do list app for iOS that helps you organize tasks and create checklists. It supports task importance levels, color-coded prioritization, due date reminders, and color theme and sound customization. The app is free as adware, or can be purchased to get rid of apps.

3. Suru

Suru is a simple app to keep to-dos, lists and important information organized. It allows to create task lists, break tasks down to subtasks, provide to-dos and reminders with descriptions and photos, and more. Prioritize your tasks using color codes, set up reminders, and export your task lists into PDF format.

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Productivity blogs

When you’re looking for inspiration and motivation to fuel your efforts to be productive, it’s time to read productivity blogs. Experts’ opinions, science-backed advice, productivity studies, and motivational quotes help in work on performance, efficiency, and attitude.

1. actiTIME Blog

The blog contains literally everything about productivity, time management and efficiency at the workplace: advice, tips and tricks, how-to lists, statistics, and some “time-wasters” too – comics, quizzes, and funny advice. But jokes aside, its Project Management section is full of valuable information on how to organize work process to increase productivity of entire teams.

2. Productivity 501

Focused on bringing order and harmony in the work process, this blog suggests efficient and interesting ways to organize your work life. It also contains thoughts and opinions on non-trivial aspects of productivity, performance, and efficiency at work.

3. The Muse

This blog offers a lot of interesting job-related content: staying productive, finding a dream job, balancing work and life, and much more – almost everything about professional life. Here you can also find lists of companies that are worth checking because they’re offering outstanding workplace conditions or great career prospects.

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Productivity tools for writers

Writers are those who often struggle with unproductivity and distractions: search for inspiration sometimes tends to slip into various time-wasting activities. That’s why so many distraction-blocking tools for writers are developed: they help reclaim focus and create a distraction-free environment.

1. Cold Turkey Writer

The developers of the popular distraction-blocking tool offer a special version for writers. Cold Turkey Writer is a basic text editor that essentially turns your computer into a typewriter: you cannot exit it before you reach the set goal (time or word count). Cold Turkey Writer runs as a standalone tool without an installer, so you can just copy it on a USB and run on any machine.

2. OmmWriter

The tool is designed for stimulating concentration. It is a simple text editor with minimalist design and sound effects that help reclaim the calm state of mind. The tool insulates your mind from distractions and helps start a creative process. It creates a natural and calm setting for focusing on your words and ideas. OmmWriter works in full-screen mode so that nothing can disrupt your work process.

3. FocusWriter

This app creates a clear and distraction-free environment that helps focus and get work done faster. It eliminates clutter by using a hide-away interface. FocusWriter has various customizable visual themes and optional typewriter sounds, timers, alarms, and daily goals. As text editing functions provided in the tool are basic, the text can be exported in various format for further processing.

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Productivity books

When working on productivity, some theoretical knowledge is essential: it adds understanding and clarity to the process. Productivity books give theoretical information on how our brain works and why we get distracted, and practical advice on how to become more productive.

1. Ready for Anything: 52 Productivity Principles for Getting Things Done

The author, David Allen, is a coach and management consultant. In this book, he presents his breakthrough methods to work more efficiently and get things done. The book offers 52 ways to increase efficiency, become more creative, create structures that work, and eventually get things moving.

2. How to be a Productivity Ninja: Worry Less, Achieve More and Love What You Do

Graham Allcott, one of the foremost productivity experts in the UK, shows us the path of a productivity ninja and various unique techniques that make you more productive and happy with your work: Mindfulness, Zen-Like Calm, and Stealth & Camouflage. The book offers a fun way to get things done, cut off stress, and love your work.

3. Time Warrior: How to Defeat Procrastination, People-pleasing, Self-doubt, Over-commitment, Broken Promises and Chaos

A thoughtful approach is the key to an efficient use of your time. This book shows non-trivial ways to handle your time wisely, defeat chaos around you, and stop being stressed. Steve Chandler shares his revolutionary method for being time-conscious, building up an efficient and creative mindset, and break the linear, approval-seeking and mood-based thinking.

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Distraction blockers

Checking emails every 10 minutes, reading Facebook feed, or watching fun videos a friend just shared with you – anyone knows these typical office distractions. Getting rid of them is not as easy as saying “just turn that off!” – but thankfully, there are productivity apps that block out everything that gets in your way to efficient work and help build up productive habits.

1. SelfControl

A free and open-source app for macOS that blocks your access to everything on your computer that attracts your attention and is not work-related. Block specific websites, the entire Internet, or applications on your computer that distract you from your work. Set up a timer – and after it’s started, the app won’t allow you to access the source of distraction.

2. Focus Booster

This app is based on Pomodoro technique and helps build up focusing habits. In it, you can set up Pomodoro sessions to accomplish your tasks, and pauses for having a break. This technique has proven to be efficient for maintaining concentration, adopting healthy work habits, and getting your life back.

3. Off The Grid

A “digital detox” app for those who just cannot put down their phones to get focused on work or engage with people. It has flexible configuration options, so you can block distracting apps, whitelist important notifications and calls, and create schedules to stop checking your phone at night, during work hours, etc.

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Productivity Chrome extensions

When your work requires research in the Internet but you easily find work-unrelated content to get distracted, browser add-ons are of help. Here’s a list of extensions for Chrome as one of the most popular browsers that will improve your concentration, block out distractions, and get work done sooner.

1. Taco

Taco is an extension that collects your to-dos from over 35 apps (such as Trello, ZenDesk, Asana etc.) and reminds you of them. With it, immersing in Internet research doesn’t mean losing track of time: just open a new tab and see what needs your attention right now. You can also rearrange or prioritize your to-dos directly on the Taco tab.

2. Mindful Browsing

Mindful Browsing is designed for those who mechanically spend a lot of time on social media and other distracting resources – instead of using this time for learning something new or relaxing. In this extension, you can set up distracting websites that you’d like to avoid, and useful websites that you find reasonable to visit instead. Instead of blocking out Facebook or Reddit, the extension will redirect you to more useful web content.

3. Comments to Cats

Comments on various resources (not necessarily on social media) are often hateful, pointless, and annoying. And still, they attract our attention. To break the habit to spend time on reading comments, try using this comment blocking extension. It automatically finds comments and replaces them with photos of cute cats – definitely not the worst way to stop wasting time on them.

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Email management tools

Emails are considered one of the worst productivity enemies: spam, newsletters, irrelevant emails from coworkers you’ve been copied on – they are incredibly disruptive and distracting. That’s why mindful work with your inbox is critical for your productivity. Automate it where possible – and use special apps for email management.

1. Hiver

Hiver is an inbox organizer that offers various useful features for corporate email management, such as scheduling and collaboration. It helps manage shared accounts, allows turning a Gmail account into Help Desk, and provides a convenient interface for managing emails as tasks: assigning them to team members, tracking emails’ status, and assessing response and completion times.

2. Boomerang

A tool that is helpful for anyone whose responsibilities include a lot of work with emails. With it, you can schedule emails to send them out at optimal times, set up follow-up reminders, track replies, and get read receipts. Boomerang is available for Gmail, Outlook, and mobile clients on Android or iOS devices.


When you get tired of all newsletters that are no longer relevant for you, you can automate unsubscribing from them. app helps you see all your subscriptions in one list and manage them: unsubscribe from what you don’t want and combine subscriptions that you need in one email. The app organizes your subscriptions by categories and allows to see them in a single email or individually.

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Productivity tools for developers

Measuring developers’ productivity is a famously difficult thing – you cannot measure it by any figures, such as hours worked or code lines written – but that doesn’t mean it cannot be improved. Productivity tools for developers offer various features that speed up work, optimize work process, and help achieve better results.

1. Oh My ZSH

Oh My ZSH is an open-source tool for ZSH configuration management. It is designed for developers who work with the command line and offers many useful functions to speed up and optimize work. The tool is designed to be easy for people who are new to the command line environment and offers many help options, such as visual themes, plugins, helpers etc.

2. The Silver Searcher

Searching through code often turns into a pain – and this tool is intended to simplify and speed up this process. The author developed it after realizing that the time he spent on what is called “writing code” was mostly spent on reading the existing code and searching through it. So, he designed The Silver Searcher to increase speed and efficiency of coding.

3. UltraEdit

Basically, UltraEdit is a text editor optimized for working with code in almost any markup or programming language. What’s so good about it compared to other similar tools? UltraEdit can handle large files – up to 4 GB – and allows to set up work environment as the user prefers. What’s more, it supports FTP, SSH/Telnet console, and local arranging and ordering of files and folders.

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Productivity apps for smartphone

Smartphones are blamed for their negative effects on productivity. However, you can use them to work on your productivity – use apps that help get rid of procrastination habits, consistently work on your goals, and improve your performance.

1. Goal Tracker

This app helps develop good habits and acquire new skills. Instead of putting marks on a wall calendar, use its mobile version: schedule your habits and goals for the next period (day, week, month, year), and mark days over each day when you move towards the goal: learn guitar, do yoga, drink more water etc. The app will keep your progress records and help you analyze and improve your habits.

2. TimeTune

It’s easy to lose something important in your daily routine, isn’t it? To prevent your activities from being forgotten and abandoned, create tasks for them in the app, collect them in lists, categorize, and set up reminders. The app helps in work, studies, physical exercising, household routines, and many other activities.

3. Inkflow

Creating new ideas and working with them is definitely fun – but also challenging: remembering important details and sharing them with others is what many of us fail at. Inkflow helps keep your ideas and projects organized: in it, you can write detailed notes with illustrations, capture ideas in visual mind maps, and express yourself.

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Roadmap software tools

The success of a project, and of any teamwork, depends on how it has been planned. Visual planning has proven to be one of the most efficient methods: it shows all the steps of the process, dependencies, team members’ responsibilities etc. Use roadmap tools to plan ahead your team’s work on upcoming projects.

1. Roadmunk

Roadmunk offers a simple and powerful way to creating roadmaps. It helps visualize your strategy, plan teamwork, and align the entire organization. The tool offers Jira integration, various roadmap views, and data export in different popular formats. Its security features comply with strict standards and meet the requirements of global enterprise customers.

2. Roadmap Planner

This tool offers work planning and collaboration features for teams of any size. It allows to create roadmaps, collaborate with coworkers in real time, visualize your work progress with Gantt charts and outlines, and run the tool in presentation mode to showcase your vision to clients, stakeholders or team. The tool works great for both teams and independent experts.

3. ProdPad

ProdPad is a project management tool with rich roadmap planning functionality. It includes a Kanban board, roadmaps, idea management, collaboration, reviewing, user management, and other features. ProdPad can be integrated with other projects and team management software, such as Jira, Trello, or Slack.

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TED Productivity talks

TED is a perfect resource to search inspiration for your work on productivity: they contain valuable theory and practical advice, presented in a fun and concise form. There are many of talks about getting organized at work, finding work-life balance and adding harmony to everyday life, so we’d recommend the best ones that you definitely need to check.

1. First be happy, then be productive

The talk shows a non-trivial approach to happiness at work: first be happy and then it will benefit your productivity. The traditional point of view is first achieving something and then being happy about it – but it turns out that it doesn’t work. Chasing future goals doesn’t bring happiness; positive thinking and focus on where you are now does.

2. Tim Urban’s talk on procrastination

If you never heard about the Instant Gratification Monkey and the havoc it brings into your work, you definitely should watch Tim Urban’s TED talks and read his blog! This video explains basically everything about procrastination: how our brain works and how it betrays us when it comes to hard work and concentration, and what we can do about it.

3. Making work-life balance actually work

It’s been said a lot about work-life balance, but it keeps being an issue for many of us, isn’t it? In this video, you’ll find advice on finding harmony, focusing on things that improve your well-being, and being a happier person without jeopardizing your employment or sacrificing anything else in your life.

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Christmas apps

Christmas time is not only fancy decorations and holiday spirit – it’s also very hectic time. Especially when you’re the one who brings magic into life! How to remember everything you need to get done? Some still prefer paper checklists and sticky reminders, but Christmas apps are a better way to stay calm and organized in the busy season.

1. The Christmas List

Shopping is definitely not the most pleasant part of the Christmas time! So why not using a special app to remember everything you’ll need for creating the magical atmosphere? The Christmas List will help you avoid forgetting anything important and allow you to keep track of your progress when preparing for the holidays.

2. Giftster

Preparing gifts is probably the biggest challenge of the Christmas season: finding a perfect gift for every friend and family member, getting them on time, and of course not forgetting about anyone – that’s what paper lists usually don’t help with. Giftster is a fun gift registry that connects friends and family in a small social network and helps share gift ideas, create wishlists, and get prepared for Christmas, birthdays, weddings and other gift giving occasions.

3. The Gift Wrap App

Well, you found perfect gifts for everyone – tickets, gift cards, vouchers – and they’re all electronic. What’s next? Just sending them in a simple email seems boring: a perfect wrapping is as important as the gift itself! Gift Wrap App will help you prepare a proper decoration for your digital gifts. It has ribbons, decorative paper, and animation – everything to create a realistic effect of “traditional” wrapping.

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Tools for remote teams

Managing productivity in remote teams is harder than within an office: staying informed on what the employees are working on and when they’re planning to accomplish their tasks requires more effort if team members are in remote locations. Managers of remote teams will definitely appreciate special apps that help organize work and build team culture.

1. Jell

Jell is an app for organizing communication within a team and improving teamwork. In it, you can set up online standups to stay updated on team’s results, organize goal tracking to manage work process more efficiently, and create check-ins to collect more detailed metrics on your team’s progress. Mobile apps are a helpful addition for staying updated on the go, and integrations with other tools allow to manage collected data more efficiently.

2. Awesome Boss

People often say that money is the reason why they turn up for work every day, but money is not the only motivator. Being happy with work environment matters too – and bosses are those who define and manage it. This app not only helps bosses being awesome, but also offers ways to create a friendly and rewarding atmosphere at work, which is particularly important for distributed teams. The app reminds of important events (for example, employees’ birthdays and work anniversaries), tracks little details about employees, and offers coaching and employee engagement tips.

3. Workplace by Facebook

Implementing new tools for organizing teamwork is one of the worst things about setting up team communication – and even more challenging for remote teams. People are used to different tools and are reluctant to learn new one. Workplace by Facebook has interfaces and functions familiar to anyone and helps managers organize communication sooner and with less effort.

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Productivity courses

While many of us rely on our own abilities when it comes to achieving more and building up productive habits, seeking some professional advice is always a good idea. Productivity courses are a great source of theoretical knowledge and practical suggestions on how to become more efficient at work, increase performance, and reclaim focus.

1. Introduction to Time Management

This course contains basic concepts of time management and shows tips and tricks to get organized, thoughtfully prioritize your work, and create your own comfortable workday rhythm. The authors also provide various suggestions on how to adapt general time management practices to your work specifics.

2. How to Powerfully Get Things Done

There’s no magic in becoming productive – just mindful work and consistent attention to your attitude, motivation and planning. This course offers basic theory on how to optimize your daily activities, and simple principles that help move towards your goals and be successful.

3. Become a Speed Demon: Productivity Tricks to Have More Time

This course offers many tips and tricks that help become more productive and save time, combined with productivity theory. It suggests ways to automate routine activities, optimize your workday, find out time-wasters and cut out bad habits that lead to losing valuable time.

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Free project management software

Organizing a productive teamwork without special project and team management software is barely possible. For small businesses and startups, it’s essential to organize project management in a special tool early on. While the most popular tools in this segment are barely an affordable investment for small teams, free project management software is great for a successful start.

1. GanttProject

In this tool, managers can organize work structure and observe project progress. GanttProject allows to create work hierarchy, set deadlines and priorities, and assign work to system users. It reduces management effort by tracking dependency constraints between different parts of work. GanttProject supports data export in various formats for further processing.

2. VivifyScrum

A tool that helps implement Scrum and Kanban methodologies in software development teams. In it, you can plan and manage development sprints, monitor progress, and manage changes in the course of project work. The tool visualizes workflow and team’s results. As it is cloud-based, it is easily accessible from anywhere and doesn’t require installation and maintenance efforts.

3. Teamweek

A visual work management tool with all features necessary for running a project: it allows creating roadmaps, reviewing your team’s advancement, setting up timelines, scheduling work, and much more. Teamweek is free for up to five users, so it’s a great choice for small and growing teams.

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