Productivity Apps to Stretch Your Days
We’re the first to test-drive any app that promises to make our to-do lists a little less daunting. On the flip side, the sheer number of options can be overwhelming. So, in light of our annual app roundup (see last year’s here), we vetted the goop office’s list of favorites, whittling down to our must-haves for maximizing each day. Here you’ll find productivity workhorses that help with everything from note-taking to focusing–plus a few trusty meditation apps to start–or end–on the right track.
When we first found out about Andy Puddicombe and his team’s goal to “demystify meditation,” we were on board. (A convenient, simple, quick way to temporarily quiet our minds? Yes, please.) Their app teaches the basics of meditation sans any fee or intimidation–and then offers daily content on which to build your practice for a less than $13 a month. (There’s even a version for littles.)
There’s a compelling story behind this brand: Co-founder Dan Harris was at the top of his game in the news business until he suffered from a nationally-televised panic attack on air. It didn’t break his career, but rather jumpstarted his journey to mental wellness, resulting in his finding meditation and creating a course and subsequent app to help others learn the practice. The app offers a simple, clear approach with added wisdom from widely-respected meditation gurus like Oren Jay Sofer and George Mumford.
The benefit to Flexible meditation is that it works literally anywhere you are, with a few minutes of downtime to spare—from your car to the train to the office. It’s a super easy way to integrate mediation into your day-to-day life that’s not intimidating.
Pocket captures your favorite articles and sites so you can check them out later– eliminating the annoying need to constantly email or text yourself links. Bonus: An adjustable reading setting removes annoying ads, while the offline feature allows you to read your saved articles even if you’re without WiFi.
Gretchn Rubin has helped us create strategies for making–or breaking–habits that work with our own our idiosyncrasies, rather than pretending we’re someone we’re not. So, it was a no-brainer we looked to her Better app–and extension of her latest book The Four Tendencies–to help us better understand our personality type and how to best manage stress. The app offers access to “accountability groups” from which you can find mentors to help you with everything from meeting deadlines to work goals.
Think of this app as a way to instantly unload those random thoughts cluttering your mind. It works similarly to Siri, so you can speak into your phone, allowing it to act as a net for your ideas, and sends them straight to your inbox. (It does the same for typed messages or photos.) We like to pair it with Evernote to maximize note-taking.
We’re big fans of Evernote’s features–easy sharing, great web plugins for saving articles and sites, and straightforward annotation. It essentially takes the sticky note to the next level, corralling our to-do lists, brainstorming notes, and online finds in one place. We also love the helpful geotags, and the mobile version, which makes it easy to jot down ideas virtually anywhere.
A no-frills solution if you’re looking to sync all your to-do lists into one, allowing you to create tasks, projects, and goals. It works on virtually any platform, instantly syncing your lists across your laptop, iPad, and phone. We especially like how you can label tasks, clearly defining personal from work to-do’s.
Freedom is one of the tried-and-true apps we’ve been using for several years to help us block distractions and stay focused. It allows you to shut off your internet access for a set period of time, in turn giving you “freedom” from, say, falling down a social media rabbit hole.
You know you can’t live without something the moment you start using its name as a verb. At goop HQ, we Slack each other for and about everything–seriously everything–from edit questions to articles to the best places to eat in Lisbon. It makes communicating in office so easy (you can create private channels for specific projects or send direct messages) and builds a sense of community between satellite offices.
Think of Trello as a collaborative, storyboarding workhorse. It allows you to assign cards and checklists to your projects, effectively making the to-do aspect, as well as your progress, completely visual and, in turn, less overwhelming. You can communicate with colleagues on the status of a project, update your team on progress, attach visuals and documents—the list is virtually endless. We especially like the app version for our phone, making working on-the-go easier.
Apple has seriously upped the ante on its Activity app with the launch of watchOS 4, making quotidien simple-but-hard-to-consistently-pull-off things, like standing, stretching, and walking, much easier. You can set your daily goals and intentions, such as how many calories you aim to burn or minutes you want to stand) and the app will track your movements and progress–it even reminds you to stop and take a breath. Even better: You can share your activity with others, adding another level of friendly competition to the mix.
On the days that have to buckle down, Noisli helps you zone in. The app offers a range of high quality ambient noise, ranging from streams to rain to trains, known to boost both productivity and relaxation. The best part is the manipulation function, which allows you to layer your chosen sounds–adjusting the volume of each–according to your mood and needs. (On big writing days, one goop editor swears by the campfire with a hint of falling leaves.)
Athletes typically use this mental training app to help them overcome performance anxiety and meet their physical goals. Based on the science surrounding sports psychology, it gives you one-on-one mentoring and anecdotal wisdom, making it seem like you’re working with a coach IRL. One step further, we see its potential in the work realm: Have a huge meeting approaching? A deadline to meet? Cramming for a test? The app works effectively to keep you motivated.
Better than frantically Googling someone’s name minutes before a meeting, with just first and last name and job title, Charlie aggregates information from public sources to create a one-page bio document that includes their company overview, recent headlines, competition, and major milestones. It even combs social media to garner a sense of what she or he has been talking about as of late, giving you potential conversation starters.