How to app-up work productivity

Applications that make work-life smoother by taking notes, making to-do lists and keeping track of contacts and meetings


Illustration by Yatish Asthana/Mint
Illustration by Yatish Asthana/Mint

You know about online calendars.

Email is a regular tool in your daily routine.

Your new smartphone with the built-in video-calling app lets you connect with your team members effortlessly.

Technology tools are a great productivity booster.

Research shows that technology-related productivity in the workplace has increased by 480% per hour in the 40 years between 1972 and 2012. According to the 2013 research report, “How ICT Technology Drives The UK Office Economy”, by digital communications company O2 Business and the UK-based Centre for Economic and Business Research, the trend is expected to continue, with a further growth of 22% predicted by 2020, or 2.5% per year, as Internet speed and tablet usage increase.

In a 2014 study by the US-based think tank Pew Research Center, Technology’s Impact On Workers, 46% of working adults attributed their increase in productivity to the use of Internet, email and cellphones.

You may be using some or all these tools to get work done effectively.

Yet, in times of crisis, do you tend to grab the nearest pad of paper to jot down the details?

Do you feel weighed down by the numerous work-related email inboxes you need to keep track of?

Did you take meeting notes on your iPad and forget to bring it to office? If only you had used a note-taking app and synced it with the office laptop, the crisis could have been averted.

Online tools or applications can be your friend or foe, depending on how comfortable you are using them and how wise you have been in choosing them.

Here are five must-have apps that will make your work-life super productive.

Evernote

With this note-taking app, you will not forget or lose any important information ever again. Use it to take notes incredibly easily, store photographs, Web pages, clippings, PDF files, audio clips and to-do lists. You can also send yourself articles for future research. The app stores all your notes both locally and in the cloud, so they are accessible from almost anywhere.

“What could you get done if all of your notes were available to you from anywhere? After all, having immediate access to your information is a powerful thing,” says Craig Jarrow, a US-based productivity expert and author of Time Management Ninja.

Mailbird

This is a great email client for Windows that lets you connect all your emails, calendars, tasks and messaging apps into one dashboard to make information access easier and faster. If you just don’t have the time to deal with a particular message, Mailbird allows you to snooze it—the message will vanish into a separate folder till you have the time. Once the snooze period ends, the message will come back as a new unread message.

“Email is one of the best online communication tools today. We just need to fix how we use it,” says Andrea Loubier, chief executive officer (CEO) of Mailbird. She adds that instead of complaining about too many emails, what we should say is, “I’m going to schedule my time with email, use it proactively and not reactively, and use a great all-in-one communication platform that allows me to manage email happily and effectively.”

Refresh

If you hold business meetings frequently, Refresh is a terrific relationship-building app. It syncs seamlessly with Gmail, Facebook and LinkedIn to help you go into meetings prepared and informed. Refresh provides you with the ability to review past interactions or learn new information about people you are going to meet. You’re also able to see who introduced you first, or whether you’ve taken any notes about them in Evernote.

Todoist

A popular to-do list and personal task manager, Todoist works on a plethora of platforms, be it Android, Chrome, Windows, iOS or Mac. No matter which device you’re using, you can access Todoist. Moreover, with integration for three major email clients—Gmail, Outlook and Postbox—you have the ability to have your task manager at the ready while processing your email inbox.

The app will also sync with Evernote and your Google Calendar, giving you the ability to have notebooks to manage projects and see tasks with due dates right on your calendar.

Asana

In the project-management and getting-things-done sector, Asana is clearly the champion. It lets you assign tasks, organize them into projects, have discussions over particular tasks, add sub-tasks, and get a daily snapshot of how everybody is doing. To boost team productivity, Asana is your go-to app.

“Asana works for large teams (it excels at this) and can work all the way down to the individual (and it does this very well),” says Mike Vardy, CEO and president of Productivityist, a Canada-based productivity firm, in his blog.

Joy Ghose is the co-founder of FreeMind PitStop, a New Delhi-based productivity coaching firm.

More From Livemint