7 Apps Boosting My Productivity to New Levels
From listmaking to tracking emails and digitally dog-earing pages for later reading, a new set of tools is helping me take care of my business more efficiently in 2017.
Productivity is important when you're building a business on the side. My friends sometimes joke that I must possess some sort of superpower to study dentistry while growing my company.
Actually, there's nothing superhuman about it. I have the same 24 hours everyone else does each day. But I'm always striving to get the most out of my time, and I use tools such as this personalized checklist to help keep me on track.
Here are seven apps that should be more than enough to help boost your productivity and free up valuable minutes each day.
Planning is job one in my three-step process, and Wunderlist is an uncomplicated way to keep tabs on all my to-do lists. As a dentistry student and business owner, I have many tasks that need to be tackled simultaneously.
Wunderlist has a generous free plan that makes it easy to create each list. I've tried using different apps, and many are great in their own ways. Sometimes, though, simplicity is important. This is where Wunderlist shines.
This is one of the best apps I discovered last year. Accomplish is a calendar app that allows me to create tasks and then drag, drop and mark them as done. It combines the power of a to-do list with the features of a calendar app. I still use the Google calendar app to schedule my lectures and labs, but Accomplish is better for prioritizing actions and keeping me focused on doing things that really matter.
3. Boomerang for Gmail.
In the past few months, my email inbox has been overstuffed. I love interacting with a lot of people, but dealing with all those messages can be a huge time drain that really drags down my productivity for the day. I schedule time at the end of the week to respond to everyone who sends me an email. But occasionally, I'll get caught in a back-and-forth communication loop that derails me from checking other messages.
A simple solution? Schedule emails to send at a later time. Boomerang for Gmail enables me to do it with the click of a button. The app also lets me set a reminder, which can be immensely helpful to stay on top of follow-up actions. For instance, if I'm typing an email to an influential contact, I can instruct Boomerang to ping me with a reminder if there's no response from that address in a certain number of days. Boomerang even can schedule a follow-up message to go out automatically.
Related: The Art of the Follow-Up
Buffer is a great app to manage your social media profiles without a lot of hassle. Keeping these media platforms active requires a volume of high-quality content. If I find a great article, I can use the Buffer browser extension to post across all my platforms with just a few clicks.
And if I want to schedule articles to post throughout the day or week? Buffer lets me do that, too. It's a simple and smart way to share useful information.
Buffer offers several pricing plans, but the free option is more than enough to get most small-business owners started. For $10, users can upgrade to enable RSS feeds. This feature updates profiles when new blog posts go live, automating another part of the process.
If I need to promote a post on a larger scale but still personalize my approach, GMass is my go-to tool. The app imports contacts lists and other information from an Excel spreadsheet. If I want my message to include a custom intro, I simply create a column in the spreadsheet to hold an appropriate greeting for each person or to apply greetings to different categories of recipients.
The tool does all the heavy lifting. It operates much like a mail merge in Word, pulling data from the spreadsheet fields and plugging it into my email messages. Like Boomerang, GMass also can be configured to send automatic follow-up notes to anyone who didn't reply during the first round of communication.
I sometimes come across articles or videos that pique my interest, but I can't divert my attention at that very moment. With the Pocket extension installed, I can click on that information source to add it to my queue. At the end of the week, I block time to check my queue and delve deeper into those fascinating topics.
7. Clear Focus.
Clear Focus helps me apply my three-step process -- specifically, the Pomodoro technique.
Clear Focus provides the structure I need to achieve high-quality results in less time. I've tried several similar apps based on recommendations from friends, but I always find myself returning to this one. Its clean design and streamlined function elevate its simplicity -- and that's the most important element in any productivity tool.
Ahmed Safwan is building a freelancing business while studying to be a dentist but still finds time to enjoy with friends.