Do Productivity Apps Really Help?

by Jeff Rutowski on February 19, 2013

Are you struggling to be more productive? Do you find yourself bouncing from one productivity technique or app to another? It’s easy to do and it can be both fun and frustrating.

There are tons of productivity apps available for your phone and tablet. The best of these automatically sync between all of your devices–your phone, tablet and computer. That’s the beauty of the Cloud.

The fact is that digital tools may not be for everyone. For some, the elimination of paper is more painful that the problems associated with shuffling paper.

Often times people choose an app that doesn’t fit the way their brain works or the way that they think. They spend more time trying out new productivity apps than they do performing productive work.

Still there are apps that, when used consistently can help you be more productive. One of the keys to successful productivity is to combine tools such as productivity apps along with proven strategies such as those presented to help you be more organized and more productive can include strategies such as list making and time scheduling

David Allen’s book Getting Things Done has powerful strategies to help people get organized and be more productive. Apps are simply tools that can be used with effective strategies such as those discussed by Mr Allen.
Getting Things Done:

AnyToDo. I have used AnyTodo for several months and I like it. It helps me categorize my To Dos into four grids–Important, Urgent, Important & Urgent and Not Important or Urgent. AnyToDo sends me alerts and I can add notes and other information to my To Dos. One of my favorite features is that it syncs with Evernote.

Evernote. I love this app. It goes everywhere I go. It syncs with my iPhone, iPad, and my Macbook. If I don’t have any of those (which almost never happens) I can log in online. With Evernote I can dictate voice notes, clip web pages and make lists.

OmniFocus. OmniFocus is a powerful organizer and it too syncs with all of my devices. It’s a bit too heavy duty for day-to-day activities but it works great for bigger projects that may take days, weeks or months to complete. It sends me reminders if tasks fall behind.

Siri. Maybe Siri is more of a feature than an app? I’m not sure. Regardless, I had read about Siri’s dictation powers and now I use Siri and my iPhone dictation features all of the time. The accuracy is as good if not better than my ability to type on my touch screen.

3030. I heard about 3030 in the monthly CD included with my subscription of Success Magazine. I had never heard of it and I have only played around with it a little but I find it intriguing. The concept behind 3030 is that it helps you plan relatively short bursts of time. For example, say that you have about 90 minutes and 12 different things that absolutely have to be done in those 90 minutes. With 3030, you can allocate blocks of time for each of your 12 tasks. Then simply start the clock and 3030 will alert you when the time for that task has ended.

RescueTime. Another app that I learned about from the Wall Street Journal is RescueTime. It is a workload-tracking program that posts alerts on the subscriber’s computer screen if the spend too much work time doing certain tasks (or wasting time). If the user strays a second time, RescueTime locks the user out of nonwork programs and apps. There is a RescueTime Lite and a RescueTime subscription that costs $6 a month.

Asana. Asana is another app that I learned about from Success and is another app that I have not used. It is the shared task list for your team. It is the place to plan, organize & stay in sync. Asana is a collaboration application that uses email to communicate to project participants. It sends and receives emails and helps you track the progress of your project tasks.

While some of the productivity tools that we’ve talked about here can be helpful, the most important thing to keep in mind is that you should choose tools that help you work within yourself and don’t force you into processes that are unnatural for you. When you find something that works, stick with it.

The Wall Street Journal: “How Productivity Tools Can Waste Your Time” by Sue Shellenbarger.

About the author: Jeff Rutowski is the president of and a certified Guerrilla Marketing Coach. is a company dedicated to providing its customers with marketing lists, tips and tools. Mr Rutowski writes regularly for

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