5 Best Productivity Apps for 2016

By now, you’ve probably reset at least one or two of the goals you made at the very beginning of the year. Maybe January came with more twists and turns than you expected. Maybe you just didn’t manage to be quite as productive as you hoped you would be.

Staying productive is hard with all the distractions, interruptions and roadblocks around us. Sometimes we just can’t find the motivation to get one more thing done. Other times we forget to take breaks and end up unintentionally maxing out our ability to process thoughts for the day.

The good news is, there are apps out there for all these things. Here are a few of our favorites.

1. MyLifeOrganized (iOS and Android, free)

My Life Organized

Do you get easily overwhelmed when you try to make a to-do list with too many tasks on it? Breaking up bigger tasks into smaller ones is a go-to tip for achieving goals, and it can work the same way with your daily or weekly task list.

MyLifeOrganized is both a desktop and device application (phone or tablet) that helps you organize your life and make your to-do list less overwhelming. You can break different tasks into projects and break those projects into even smaller step-by-step tasks that you can check off as you complete them.

This app is also extremely helpful if you are not the best at prioritizing your tasks. MyLifeOrganized lets you assign due dates to your tasks and sub-tasks (even sub-sub tasks, and so on) and puts your most pressing tasks first, making sure you tackle them as soon as possible so you don’t miss deadlines or procrastinate.

2. Pocket (iOS, Android or web browser, free)

2Pocket

Interruptions and distractions are productivity’s greatest nemesis. It doesn’t help that the internet, social media in particular, is flooded with endless streams of articles, videos and other clickable gems that are most interesting and intriguing when we’re supposed to be doing something else.

Pocket is the digital hero you never knew you needed. With all the information out there, and that ever-present fear of missing out too strong to keep you from giving in to temptation, you need a new way to absorb all the info you want to, when you have the time to do so.

All those links have a new home. Pocket, on your computer or device, stores everything you want to read or watch and saves it for later. That way, you can stay up-to-date on all the news and viral videos you want to … on the train ride home from work, instead of during work hours.

3. Evernote (iOS, Android or desktop, free)

3Evernote

Being productive on an individual level is hard enough. What about when you need to collaborate with someone else on a project, or multiple projects? You need an effective tool to keep everyone on the same page, both at work and on the go.

Evernote is your next big team player. It not only lets you make task lists, but you can also make and share notes of all kinds with the people you work with. Whether you are doing research, brainstorming a new product or just trying to make sure everyone does their part to get the job done, this is the multi-purpose app you need.

You can also conduct meetings of sorts using the app, no matter where you and your colleagues are in separate parts of the world. Evernote organizes your notes and makes them look good on screen.

4. Clear (Mac and iOS, $4.99)

4Clear

To-do lists are very easy to make, but not quite as easy to work through. Crossing off tasks on a piece of paper feels good, but maybe it’s just not working for you today. Maybe you need something more to push yourself to keep accomplishing those tasks no matter how much motivation you are lacking.

Sometimes a little motivation is all you need to stay focused and get things done. Some of us are programmed to want to rid our lives of unnecessary clutter, and Clear literally helps you “clear” your task list with a single swipe.

After you add in all your tasks, Clear displays them for you on one screen. When you finish one, all you have to do is swipe it away. Repeat until you’ve cleared everything from your list. The satisfaction is worth the sacrifice.

You can use Clear on your iPhone or your Mac, but you can also sync the app with iCloud to make sure you can keep track of your to-do lists no matter where you are.

Windows or Android users can use Wunderlist as an alternative to Clear.

5. Time Out (Mac) or Workrave (Windows)

05 Time Out05 Work Rave

So you’ve finally managed to sit down and focus on that task you absolutely have to get done ASAP. Really focus. In fact, you focus yourself straight into a flow state, and before you know it you’ve been working for several hours straight without pausing to take a break.

Taking breaks is an important part of productivity. You’re only going to burn yourself out, fast, if you try to do work for too long without stopping.

The idea behind these computer-based apps, free to download, is to force you to take breaks while you work. After a certain amount of work time, the app stops you from doing any more work for a certain period of time with a popup. You either get a longer break after a larger chunk of work time or a “micro” break (10 seconds) after working for a shorter chunk of time.

When taking your break, step away from your screen. Move around. Think, but don’t work. Here are some more tips for how and when to take breaks throughout your day whether you end up using an app to help you do it or not.

2016 is all about achieving old goals and having time left over to set and achieve new ones. Use these apps to prioritize your tasks, minimize distractions, get work done fastr and reset your brain so you can continue to work hard, all day long.