20 Productivity Apps For 2020: Do More This Year
Most of us are on the lookout for ways to be more productive and efficient. And while technology is often talked about as a deterrent to productivity, there are ways it can actually help us as well. But what are the best productivity apps? Today, there are literally hundreds of productivity apps that can help you get organized, track your time, and communicate more effectively with your team.
For this guide, we’ve created a list of the 20 best productivity apps available today, broken into four sections: best to-do list apps, best time tracking apps, best calendar scheduling apps, and best project management apps.
Table Of Contents
- Best To-Do List Apps
- Best Time Management Apps
- Best Calendar Scheduling Apps
- Best Project Management Apps
Best To-Do List Apps
Some of the best productivity apps out there are like swiss army knives, chock full of features and options. But, for some people, full project management apps may be a little overkill. Instead, they just want a dependable app for managing their to-do list. If that’s you, here are five great to-do list apps to choose from.
Todoist is an incredibly popular to-do list app that ranks near the top of nearly every list you’ll find online. It has a 4.7-star rating out of 187,000 reviews on the Play Store and a 4.8-star rating out of 30,000 reviews on the App Store. With Todoist, it’s easy to organize and prioritize tasks by creating sections and subtasks and selecting certain tasks as Favorites or Priorities.
Todoist makes it easy to visualize your progress by creating colorful daily and monthly graphs. You’ll also earn points, called Todoist Karma, as you complete tasks on your list. Finally, Todoist is great for teams as well. It’s easy to delegate tasks and comment on tasks and projects. Plus, you’ll get a notification whenever team members complete projects or leave comments.
The basic Todoist app is free to use for everyone. But you can get access to more features like reminders, templates, and automatic backups by upgrading to Todist Premium for $3 per month.
Any.do separates itself from other to-list apps by using technology in clever ways to make your life easier. For example, when you add items to your Any.do Grocery List, it will automatically sort them together by aisles. Plus, you can import recipes that you find online and Any.do will automatically create your shopping list.
Their Reminders app is also very helpful. Like other apps, you can create one-time or repeating reminders. But with Any.do, you can also create reminders that are based on location. So when you’re near the local grocery store, Any.do can remind you that you need to pick up eggs. Or it can remind you to silence your phone when you get home from work.
In addition to their Grocery List and Reminders, Any.do users also get a calendar and daily planner. Plus, Any.do is available on virtually every device imaginable, including smart speakers like Amazon Echos and Google Homes. You can get started with Any.do today for free or you can get Premium for $5.99 per month.
3. Remember The Milk
What makes Remember the Milk one of the best productivity apps is its incredible set of available integrations. For example, with Remember the Milk Gmail Add-on, you can create tasks right from your inbox. With their IFTTT integration, you can do all sorts of cool things like automatically creating a follow-up task one day after a Google Calendar appointment or creating a task by simply starring an email.
And the integrations don’t end there. With Remember the Milk for Desktop (available on Windows, Mac, and Linux), you can add tasks with a simple keyboard shortcut no matter where you’re at. Add in Apple Watch, Google Drive, Siri, and Google Assistant support and you have an amazing task app that can fit right into your normal life and workflow.
You can get started with Remember the Milk for Free. But to access all of the app’s features, you’ll need to upgrade to Remember the Milk Pro which costs $39.99 per year.
TickTick has lots of features that help you spend less time creating your task list and more time getting things done. With Voice Input, you can create a task without ever lifting a finger. You can also quickly turn emails into tasks with only a few taps. And if you include date and time information on a task, there’s no need to set a reminder. TickTick will automatically do that for you.
We live in a world where an endless stream of notifications pop up on our phones throughout the day. Because of that, it can be easy to accidentally swipe away reminders for important to-do list items. But TickTick can keep you from missing critical reminders, by allowing users to set multiple reminders or “Annoying Alerts” for key tasks.
5. Microsoft ToDo
Remember Wunderlist? It was a wildly popular to-list app that was bought out by Microsoft a few years ago. In September of 2019, Microsoft announced a new version of its Microsoft ToDo app that includes some of the best Wunderlist features, plus some new ones hot off the press.
With Microsoft ToDo, you’ll get a daily planner that gives Smart Suggestions to help you get more done throughout your day. Your lists will also be available everywhere you work, syncing with virtually every operating system (yes, even including Mac). But Windows and Android users get the added benefit of being able to toggle between personal and work accounts.
To get started with Microsoft ToDo, you’ll just need to create a free Microsoft account. And if you’ve used Wunderlist in the past, Microsoft makes it easy to import your tasks into the ToDo app.
Related: How To Stay Organized At Work
Best Time Management Apps
The next section on our list of best productivity apps is time management apps. Creating tasks is only the first step toward being more productive at work. You also need to manage your time well in order to get more of your task list accomplished each day. The five apps below can help with that.
With Toggl, you can start tracking your time from anywhere and all of your entries are synced. You can start the timer on your phone and stop it from the desktop app. Also, Toggl’s idle detection will recognize when you’ve stopped working. Even if you forget to stop the timer, you can go back later to see when it should have been stopped.
You can start Toggl today for free. Or, to access more features, you can choose their Starter ($9/month) or Premium ($18/month) plans. Toggl also offers special plans and pricing for business teams in certain industries, like SaaS, law firms, and agencies.
Forest is a unique app that encourages you to stay focused (and away from your phone) by encouraging you to plant trees. Confused? Here’s how it works.
You set goals in the app for how long you want to stay focused on a certain project. Then you keep the Forest app open on your phone while you work. During that time, a virtual tree will be growing on the app. As you grow trees, you earn coins that can later be used to help plant real trees.
But if you don’t complete your goal, your virtual tree will die. Womp, womp. Sound silly? Maybe. But the app has received numerous glowing reviews from top publications like the Guardian, Mashable, and Business Insider. Plus, the Forest team has planted over 640,000 trees so far. That’s pretty awesome any way you slice it.
Looking for a completely free time tracking app? Look no further than Clockify. Clockify is always free no matter how many projects or team members you may have. But, in this case, free doesn’t necessarily mean less. With Clockify, you get everything that you’d expect from a top time tracking app, like timesheets and reports. Plus, it’s great for small business owners as you can easily see every team member’s hourly rates and what they’ve accomplished.
RescueTime is a unique time tracking app in that you don’t have to create any manual entries at all! Instead, it works in the background, tracking everything you do on your computer, phone, or tablet. You can easily control which apps get tracked and when. Plus, you’ll have the option to set goals and get weekly email progress reports. Lite users can look back at up to three months worth of records, while Premium users get unlimited historical data.
Paydirt is an awesome time tracking app for the forgetful. First, you can add keywords for your most common clients. When that keyword appears on your screen a little popup will come up on the side and ask if you want to track for that client. Also, if you realize an hour into working that you forgot to start the timer, that’s no problem. Paydirt has a drop-down box for options to start it in the past.
Or if you forget to stop the timer at the end of the day, Paydirt will send you an email that says “Your timer is still ticking!” Then you can easily select the time you stopped for the day. Paydirt plans start at $8 per month for up to three active clients. Paydirt plans scale up from there until you hit their “Agency” tier ($149.99/month) which can support up to 20 team members and unlimited clients.
Best Calendar Scheduling Apps
Trying to keep your schedule “inside your head,” is a solid recipe for missing important meetings with clients or team members. And while paper calendars can work, you can simply get so much more out of calendar apps that live on your phone. Here’s a quick rundown of five of the best calendar apps and what they have to offer.
11. Google Calendar
Google Calendar has long been my calendar of choice. I love how it’s available on all my devices and how well it integrates with other Google products like Gmail and Google Drive. Google Calendar is completely free to use and is available on every desktop and mobile platform. With Google Calendar, you can set recurring appointments and tasks, customize your notification options, and easily create a shared calendar for your entire team.
12. Microsoft Outlook
If you’re a Microsoft power user, Microsoft Outlook is probably going to be the best calendar for you. There are lots of little built-in features that collectively make this one of the best productivity apps on the market today. Simply drag-and-drop an email to turn it into a calendar appointment. And you can view multiple calendars at the same time via the overlay or side-by-side view.
The Mac version of Outlook isn’t as fully-featured as the Windows version, but it’s still very capable. Also, if you don’t own a Microsoft Windows license (or Microsoft 365 subscription), you can access a stripped-down free version of Outlook at Outlook.com.
13. Apple Calendar
If you mostly own Apple devices, you may want to keep things simple and just stick with the preinstalled Apple calendar. No, you won’t find a native app for Windows or Android. But you can still access your Apple Calendar on the web by logging into your iCloud account.
Apple Calendar will scan your iMessages and emails for meetings that you may want to add to your calendar. And it’s “time to leave” alert will notify you when you need to hit the road if you want to arrive on time for your appointment. If you’re wanting to share calendars with several team members, Google Calendar may be a better choice. But individual users will likely find that Apple Calendar meets all their needs.
The reason that Calendly is one of the best productivity apps on the market today is that it can dramatically cut down the time that it takes to schedule appointments. With Calendly, you can send out a simple link that clients or team members can use to book time slots. Instead of going back and forth via email discussing times, just make sure that your Calendly calendar accurately reflects your availability.
Then, when someone books an appointment with you, Calendly will let you know via email and can even automatically add the appointment to your calendar! Anyone can start using Calendly for free. But if you need more than one calendar, you’ll need to upgrade to their Premium ($8/month) or Pro ($12/month) plan.
15. Acuity Scheduling
Acuity Scheduling is Calendly’s primary competitor and they offer many identical features. But Acuity Scheduling could be a better fit for doctors or lawyers in that they make it incredibly easy to collect in-take forms and customer payments. Plus, Acuity Scheduling’s software can even support multiple locations and employees. Acuity Scheduling plans range from $0 to $50 per month.
Best Project Management Apps
Is it your job to manage multiple team members and make sure they’re all working together to get stuff done? Enter project management apps. The best ones can help teams of literally any size be more productive. Here are five great options to choose from.
Asana is a powerhouse project management tool that could be one of the very best productivity apps available today. Whether your team only has a few members or you’re a Fortune 500 company, Asana has what it takes to meet your needs. NASA, Airbnb, the New York Times, and Red Bull are just a few of the massive organizations that trust Asana to keep their teams on the same page.
With Asana, you can monitor the progress of all your team members in real-time and quickly view their workload across all their ongoing projects. Asana has also baked in a lot of automation tools to their software, like the ability to create Rules. They say that teams who use Rules cut, on average, 70 steps from their work processes each week! Basic Asana is free to try, while Premium and Business cost $10.99 and $24.99.
Monday.com does a great job of using visual cues to help you get the information that you need about your team projects quickly and elegantly. You can assign a “lead” to each of your projects and organize them by due date, status, or priority level.
Say goodbye to using separate platforms for each business task. With Monday.com, you can store all of your files, conversations, and sheets in one spot. Plus, they take customer support very seriously, creating an extensive library of webinars, articles, and tutorials for their members to take advantage of. Monday.com plans start at $39/month.
Next on our list of the best productivity apps is Basecamp. What’s really cool about Basecamp is that everyone who’s involved with a project gets access to the same central project board (called your basecamp). Within your basecamp, there are several other smaller boards, including the project’s To-Do List, Message Board, Project Schedule, Docs and Files, and more.
And a separate basecamp (with the same elements listed above) is created for every single project that your team may be working on. What’s so great about Basecamp’s model is that it makes it super easy to track down files or messages that are related to a particular project, which allows you to spend less time hunting things down and more time getting things done.
It’s really hard to explain via text what makes Basecamp so different. But the demo video below will give you a much better idea of how they’re software works. Basecamp plans start at $99/month.
Trello is a popular card-based project management software. You’ll create a new card for each project that you’re working on. Inside the card, you can make notes, have conversations with your team members, and attach files. You can add a due date for each card as well.
Creating lists of cards can also be helpful. For example, one of my writing clients has created a separate list for each step of the article editing process, such as “Assigned,” “Ready for Edits,” and “Published.” As each step is completed for an article, the card is moved from one list to the next. If you think Trello could help your team get more done, you can click here to sign up for free.
Last on our list of the best productivity apps is Podio. Podio is a powerful project management software that companies like Sony, Volvo, and Time Warner Cable rely on every day.
Podio could be a great choice for businesses that work with a combination of W-2 employees and freelance contractors. Each team member is assigned a membership level of Light Member, Regular Member, or Workspace Admin. And you get to choose for each and every workspace which membership levels will have access.
Podio integrates with a huge number of other business tools, like Google Drive, Evernote, Freshbooks, and GoToMeeting. And you can get even more out of Podio by adding one of their “extensions” (built by third-party developers) which can add time-tracking functionality, Gantt chart-building tools, and much more. Podio is free for up to five employees and prices go up from there.
Choosing the best productivity apps for you will depend on your needs and the size of your team. If you’re a freelancer, a time tracking app may be your best choice. Team leaders will probably gravitate towards project management apps. The great news is that any app from this list is a great choice and can help you get a lot more done as long as you commit to consistent use.