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The 10 Best Productivity Apps in 2020

Hey, what is going on guys. So over the past year, weve done several articles breaking down some of the best productivity apps in specific categories. Weve talked about the best note taking apps, the best to-do apps, the best habit trackers, but in this article, were going to get a bit more general because I wanna talk about what I think are the best productivity apps overall. And were gonna go over my top pick in each of 10 different categories, which means that by the end of this article, youre going to have at least my recommendation for a very usable productivity stack, a suite of apps thats going to help you get things done, and stay organized.

So lets get into it. And were gonna start with, of course, the to-do list app. No productivity system is complete without some way of writing down the tasks that you need to get done during the day and over the coming days and weeks. Now, some people are perfectly happy using whiteboards, or paper systems or bullet journals.

But for those of you who want to use apps, my top pick is going to be Todoist. I have tested a lot of productivity apps over the years and Todoist is still by far my favorite to-do list app. I love that you can create different projects and even nest them, so you can separate your life into different categories. For example, I have my personal list, but I also have sub lists for my house for groceries, errands, that kind of thing. And I also love how easy it is to get tasks into Todoist.

This is what I think is its killer feature, its natural language interpretation. So instead of typing in the task, and then clicking a field to set the date, clicking the field to set the tag if you want, you can just write these things all in the text field or even speak them. Another thing I really like about Todoist is it has a fantastic Amazon Echo integration, it has Siri integrations so you can easily get tasks into the system very, very quickly and get them to where they need to be. Category number two is the humble calendar app. And the best app in this category is Google Calendar.

Ive been using Google Calendar for literally more than 10 years. And I was forced to get really good at it in my freshman year of college because I had a job where my hours actually changed every single week. And what I loved about Google Calendar was I had the ability to create separate calendars for each area of my life, which I will bet you can do this and most calendar apps, but I think Google Calendar is really, really full featured, and obviously its available on basically every platform.

But being able to do this allowed me to see when I had to work, when I had to be to class, it allowed me to visually separate the different areas of my life and I really, really liked that. That brings us to category number three, which is the project management app. So sometimes you are dealing with a team or youre working on a big enough project with so many moving parts that a traditional to-do list app like Todoist or Microsoft Microsoft To-Do or TickTick is just not going to cut the mustard.

And my big recommendation in this category is an app called ClickUp. Now I tested ClickUp as a potential all in one to-do list and project management app a few months ago. And I found that it was a little bit hard to get tasks into the system quickly, it wasnt quite as streamlined and smooth and quick as Todoist is.

But for the lack of that streamlined quality, ClickUp really makes up for it in its flexibility and the amount of different features it has. So you can create so many different levels of hierarchy, which is really, really useful when youre running an entire company or youre working on a gigantic project. You can have specific projects, you can have lists within those projects. Tasks themselves can have lists of sub tasks, those sub tasks can have sub tasks.

And you can do a lot more as well. You can assign multiple people to one specific task, if youve assigned maybe a group to get something done together. You can do task dependency. So you can say this task needs to be done by this date, but this task over here must be done first. And when youre juggling a big project, these features can actually be very, very useful, especially when youre working with multiple people.

Future Tom here. So let me tell you about my original idea for this article. I was going to do a secondary recommendation for each of the different categories, which would have total 20 apps.

But my initial cut for that version of the article is 26 minutes long. And I dont know if any of you guys wanna sit through 26 minutes. So Ive cut it down to just one recommendation for category. But theres one app that I just cannot leave out.

And that is Notion. And the reason I did not put Notion as the top recommendation in any one category is because Notion does so much, but I dont feel that it is the best app in any one category. That being said, I use Notion every single day, and its absolutely indispensable to my workflow. And Im gonna show you a little bit of a teaser here for the article that I have coming either later this week or very, very early next week about how I use Notion, because I use Notion to track my entire YouTube channel, all the articles, the stages of progress in the entire article production process.

So I do wanna give a big shout out to Notion, its a very, very capable app. And I think its worth playing with. But again, I dont think it really is specialized enough to be considered the best app in any one category. I would have put it in project management, which is why were talking now. I dont use it as a note taker personally, Im gonna get into the app that I do use as a note taker later on in the article, but for me it is my project management app of choice.

Okay, so looking at my list here number four is note taking. So I guess later in the article is actually right now, my favorite note taking app, as you are probably aware, is Evernote. Evernote has been my mainstay for about a decade, and nothing has dethroned it. The way that it organizes information just really works for my workflow. I love the writing experience, even though it doesnt support Markdown, doesnt have that nice hybrid Markdown features of some other editors, it just works for me.

And the amount of different types of data that you can quickly get into Evernote is really the killer feature for me. I can take a picture of almost anything, I can scan a document, I can set it to Evernote, and if theres handwriting or text on it, its actually going to be searchable. I also can easily record my voice and put that into Evernote.

Its just really full featured. And I havent found anything that can take all the same boxes for me. The next category on our list is a serious long form writing app.

So if youre the kinda person who writes really long essays or articles or who wants to write a book at some point, my girlfriend is actually writing a novel right now and shes using a serious writing app, not a note taking app, then you might wanna consider an app like Scrivener. Scrivener is actually my top pick here because it has a tonne of different features. And its actually the app that I use to write my book, 10 Steps To Earning Awesome Grades.

This is a print edition, but there is a free version, you can get in the description down below. But Scrivener makes the writing process incredibly easy. It has this outline corkboard view where you can actually create different scenes or seen ideas and reorder them and move them around or trash them, kinda flush them out. So its great for the planning process.

Its great for making sure that things make sense in your timelines work. But you can also zero in on specific sections of your writing. So I found that when writing in different apps, Ill often get into 5000, 6000 word territory, and it just gets kind of overwhelming, and I wish I could split my writing up.

And Scrivener lets you do this by default. You can just sort of drill into a specific section of your writing and work on that, and then see it in context. And it also has lots of great export options. So if you wanna export a PDF, or an EPUB or Kindle File, you can do that straight from Scrivener.

So that brings us to habit trackers. And habit tracker is are among my favorite types of productivity apps, not least of which because back in 2014, when I had first gone full time as an entrepreneur, it was a habit tracker that really helped me take my work seriously and act like a professional and get things done on a schedule. And that app which is my recommendation for the best habit tracker out there is Habitica.

Now I gotta say this up front, Habitica is a very nerdy habit tracker, and Im a very nerdy guy. I like statistics, I like article games. So when I found a habit tracker where you get a little character and by doing your habits, you actually level that character up, get them experience points, get them gear and allow them to go on quests, I was absolutely sold.

But Habitica has a feature that Ive seen in no other habit tracker, and that is the party system. You can actually party up with friends and go on quests together. And this creates some very powerful accountability. Because if youre on a quest, maybe youre fighting a dragon or something, and you fail to do your habits on a specific day, the dragon is going to damage everyone in your party. So it will be your fault if someone else in your party happens to die from that hit.

And that creates a very powerful motivator to make sure you get all of your habits done every single day. All right, lets talk about time tracking apps. So this is gonna be a bit of a different section because there are two different types of time tracking apps, but I didnt wanna create two separate categories. So were just gonna shove them in to this one category. There is active time tracking, then theres passive time tracking.

So for active time tracking, my main recommendation is an app called Toggl. And with Toggl, its just like it sounds. You actively track your time. And I like Toggl more than any other time tracking app out there because it actually has a feature that will remind you to start time tracking if you forgotten to do so.

Now passive time tracking is different. Instead of actively tracking the time that you are spending on specific tasks or projects, these are programs that live on your computer and just quietly track how much time you are spending on specific apps or specific websites. And for my money on the desktop side, I think the best app in this category is RescueTime. It will, again, track how much time youre spending on specific apps and websites, but it will also categorize the time you spend as either productive or non productive, and you can sort of see what percentage of your time during the work day that you are actually getting things done, staying on task instead of just going over to YouTube and distracting yourself. Okay, so we are now at email management.

And you can probably guess my number one recommendation here because it is, of course, Gmail. Gmail is that old mainstay and it just works. Its free, its fast, its reliable. And I love the fact that you can label messages and create nested hierarchies of labels so you can easily organize things.

Of course, its built on Google Search, so its so easy to search for a message if youve lost it or cant remember what label you gave to it. And Gmail has really great keyboard shortcuts that are easy to learn. So once you learn these, such as hitting E to archive a message, or hitting the pound sign to delete one, you can process your email so, so quickly. In addition, if you are Todoist user, there is a Todoist Chrome extension for Gmail. So you can turn emails into tasks and get them out of your inbox.

Team chat, it is time to talk about team chat. So if you are a part of a team, or if youre part of a group project in school, you might wanna have an easy way to chat with your group or with your team. And my top recommendation there is Slack. As much as I like to complain about Slack, on Slack to my various Slack teams, Slack is great. It allows you to chat in real time with whoever you need to work with, it allows you to direct message people, create specific group chats, or create channels that have a specific topic.

And there are also lots of different integrations. So you can have tweets come in, you can embed Google Drive documents, all kinds of really cool stuff. And that brings us to our final category, which is Cloud Sync. And I think no productivity app stack is complete without some kind of Cloud Sync app, if you use multiple devices. Or even if you just have a computer and a phone.

You wanna be able to access all of your important working files on whatever device you happen to have with you at the moment. So my big recommendation here is Google Drive, or I guess its called Google One now. There are a lot of different Cloud Sync apps out there, and if youre not familiar with what they do, they essentially sync all of your files within a specific folder to the cloud, and then keep them synced between all of your devices and up to date on all of your devices, which is very, very important and useful. But I like Google Drive the best simply because it has the best pricing. For free, you get 15 gigabytes, which is higher than I think any other competitor out there.

And then if you need more space, you can get 100 gigabytes for just two bucks a month. And that is, again, better than most of the other options out there. And of course, you also get access to the entire Google Office Suite, you get Google Docs sheets. I forgot about their PowerPoint competitor is, but its pretty good. Now some people you will find that the Microsoft apps are better, so you might wanna go with One Drive.

Some people are Apple only, so maybe iCloud Drive. I like Google Drive. Now, its important to remember that all these apps are just tools.

And yes, using and tweaking them and adding them into your system can definitely help make improvements to your efficiency in your workflow. But to make more significant improvements, you need to focus on the hardware up here. And you do that by making sure youre consistently learning new things, and also working on your problem solving skills.

And one resource that can help you in both of those areas at the same time is Brilliant. Brilliant is a learning platform that helps you efficiently master math, science and computer science through a library of more than 50 in depth courses that all focus on active learning. When youre going through a course on Brilliant, youre not just passively in taking information, youre instead immediately tackling challenging, yet bite size problems that are laid out in a logical order and they will help you stay interested longer and learn faster and boost your general problem solving skills along the way. Now, in their library, youll find courses on Calculus, on Probability, Gravitational Physics, Python Programming, and lots, lots more.

Plus their daily challenges feature gives you new problems to solve every single day in a variety of areas, which can help you make learning a daily habit. So to get started for free, head over to brilliant.orgthomasfrank and sign up. And if youre one of the first 200 people to use that link, youre gonna get 20 off that annual premium subscription.

Huge thanks as always to Brilliant for sponsoring this article and being a big supporter of my channel. And thank you for watching. Hopefully you got a good recommendation in this article that you havent checked out before, or maybe just some inspiration for tweaking the app that you already use.

Either way, if you enjoy the article, definitely leave a like to support the channel, and I will see you in the next article. Until then, you can subscribe right there and make sure you dont miss out on new articles that come up. And again, that new article is going to be my Notion setup, so definitely check that out if youre interested. Otherwise, you can get a free copy of this book right here on how to earn better grades.

It is a digital copy, be click right there and get it delivered to your email for free. And beyond that, you can just check out a couple of more articles on this channel right here, or here. Thanks again for watching, and I will see you in the next one.

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