5 Productivity Apps that I use every day.

Stay Focused, Use a Pomodoro app

Pomodoro is a really efficient time management technique that I came to know from my husband. Simply stated, allocate 20-25 minutes of time for a task/topic, run the timer, work on it with undivided attention, then take a break for 5 minutes. Repeat.You could start with the goal of 7 pomodoros per day and progress from there. You can compare various pomodoro apps here.

My favorite part of working in pomodoros is that it not only motivates me to focus, but also prioritize and track time allocation across different activities. It took me a few days to get used to it, but once I started tracking my time allocation, there has been no going back. Try a free version before paying for it! 



Waste No Time, Use WasteNoTime

This Safari browser plugin has helped me to develop a mindful browsing habit versus an addictive habit of unintentionally straying away to Facebook or Pinterest. Internet Addition Disorder (IAD) is an official syndrome and has a dedicated page on Wikipedia. A new study revealed that addiction to social media sites affects brain in a similar way that cocaine or gambling does.

Using the plugin is easy. Add the list of sites that you’d like to block. You can block sites for entire day or set an allowed duration. I use latter. What I most like about this plugin is that it displays a meaningful quote each time your addiction kicks in – small but a powerful feature.


Develop Self Awareness, Use Elevate or Lumosity.

Take this recommendation with a pinch of salt. Brain training apps have been under scrutiny by neuroscientists. One cannot guarantee that using such apps would make you more intelligent. However, from my personal experience of using Elevate daily for past 30+ days, it has revealed my strengths and areas of development, at a very nuanced level.

With Elevate, I’ve discovered that I’m not that good at remembering names and the app has helped me to explore techniques of becoming better at it. I have successfully applied those to my workplace. On the opposite side, I’ve found myself to be really good at listening, making me more self-confident in this area. So definitely worth exploring. What I like most about these apps is that they take no more than 10 minutes of activity per day, and work offline, so one can play it during commute or pomodoro breaks.



Stay Current, Use Feedly.

Compared to all the news aggregators out there, Feedly is my favorite. I use it daily to stay on top of key blogs in Product Management. I really like the Collections feature that allows me to group similar blogs on a topic.

I have used Flipboard in past, and like it as well. Key differentiator for me is that Feedly works better with desktop and smartphones, whereas Flipboard user experience is better suited for tablets. So depending on where you consume your news, either works well.


Capture your thoughts, Evernote

Last but not the least, Evernote has become my daily app for to-do list and all types of notes. Their mobile app has a scope for improvement and the desktop app could work better with ideation features such as omnigraffle. But it works just fine for simple note taking. Write once, view it everywhere.

Google Keep and Simple Note are good alternatives too.