If you don’t have this problem, you might still be interested in supercharging your productivity and becoming more efficient at what you do.
Productivity apps are designed to help in both of these instances. While productivity apps typically serve very specific functions, most of what they do revolve around helping you automate complex processes, simplify and manage tasks, and facilitate collaboration.
In this article, we will look at what makes a good productivity app and the best productivity apps for students and professionals.
A good productivity app must, at the minimum, have the following features:
Ease of use: Part of what makes a process efficient is simplicity. A productivity app that is not easy to use or has a steep learning curve might further complicate your tasks.
So, a productivity app that is crammed with several prompts, icons, complex processes, or requires some technical knowledge to navigate isn’t usually the best idea.
Habit-building and goal setting: Your productivity app should make it easy for you to set and achieve your goals and develop healthy habits that further boost your creativity.
Integrations with other apps: A good productivity app should integrate with other work/school apps to help you create a harmonious flow of completing tasks.
This helps you to automate work processes, move information and documents easily between apps, and save time. What’s more, it increases the use cases of your apps.
Task tracking: A good productivity app should help you stay on track with your tasks and achieve your goals by having reminder options.
Value for money: You shouldn’t have to break the bank to enjoy good services. Productivity apps should be affordable and provide high-quality features in exchange.
The best productivity apps for students and professionals are:
Available on web, Android, and iOS.
Calendly is a leading meeting scheduling software used by individuals and teams to allow others to schedule meetings with them during their preferred time.
With Calendly, you can reduce the time you spend corresponding with the other party because they are immediately presented with your open hours and are required to schedule meetings within that window.
Working Hours: You can set your working hours available for meetings within your preferred time zone, and create events where you specify the meeting duration and your availability so that your invitees only reach you at a good time.
Automated event notifications: You will receive a confirmation email with the meeting details when a meeting is successfully booked. You can also set up email reminders for your invitees to prevent no-shows.
Embeddable Links: Another cool thing about Calendly is that you can embed it on your website so that your customers or clients can immediately schedule a meeting with you. So, if you run a business, consulting practice, or work in sales, this will make you more accessible to your audience.
Advanced security: To keep you from being overwhelmed with unnecessary meeting schedules, you can screen your invitees by requesting information from them before confirming schedule requests.
Free to custom pricing options are available.
Available on web, Android, iOS
Like Calendly, Doodle is a great meeting scheduling tool. But it distinguishes itself with the prominence of its group scheduling option.
You can use it to set up 1:1 meetings on Google Meet, Webex, Microsoft Teams, and Zoom, conduct surveys using polls on your invitees’ preferred meeting times, and set up bookings.
Doodle has an impressively neat interface that makes a complex product more accessible and usable.
Polls: Doodle offers group polls that allow you to invite participants to select the best time to meet.
When setting up polls for your invitees, you can:
Present multiple dates and time options
Limit the number of people that can select a time
Include a poll deadline
Set up reminders for invitees who haven’t voted
Polls help you save time for debates and comparing schedules or following up on your invitees for their responses.
Booking Page: Doodle’s Booking Page works the same way as Calendly. It allows you to set your available hours so that your invitees can select their preferred meeting time. The Booking Page also automatically updates your schedule when changes are made to the agreed meeting time.
Integrations: You can integrate Doodle with Google Meet, Zoom, or Webex to set up meetings on the platforms with a single click. You can also sync your calendar with the app to immediately see your available hours and avoid clashes in your schedule or overscheduling.
$6.95 per user/month to custom pricing
Available on web and Chrome extension
Airgram is an all-in-one meeting productivity tool that centralizes and allows you to manage and optimize all the different parts of your meetings, including scheduling, live-recording, transcribing, and collaborating with stakeholders.
What makes Airgram such a great tool for productivity is that it automates and simplifies all these processes.
For example, the Airgram AI assistant can automatically join your scheduled Zoom and Google Meet meetings.
Airgram has a very robust function set but manages to maintain a tidy interface. This makes it possible for you to rely on it exclusively as your only meeting productivity tool. What's more? it executes its functions with laudable efficiency and applies to both virtual and in-person meetings.
Airgram Assistant: Airgram’s AI Assistant takes the strain of managing your meetings off you.
It performs a range of functions including:
Multi-lingual live transcription
Live recording meetings
Topic and action item extraction
All you have to do is add the Airgram Assistant to your meeting and let it do all the work.
Meeting templates: Airgram offers a variety of agenda templates for one-on-one and team meetings that you can customize to structure your meetings to maximize the time spent and the quality of resolutions reached.
Live transcription: Airgram simplifies your note-taking by converting participants’ speeches into text with live transcription. Your notes are also time-stamped for ease of reference and the Airgram Assistant automatically identifies potential action items.
At the end of your meeting, you can review and edit your notes, assign tasks and collaborate with your team members on the notes by co-editing.
This way, you can focus during your meetings and be assured that you have accurate notes to share with the rest of your team.
Easy sharing: Airgram automatically shares your meeting notes with your meeting attendees who are also members of your workspace. This saves you time on sending emails or messages of the notes.
Free to custom pricing.
Available on web, Android, iOS, Chrome extension, desktop
Notion functions as both a project management and note-taking tool. This combination of these functions makes it a great productivity app for professionals and students.
So while Notion is best known among professionals and teams, it has a lot of great features and dedicated offerings for students (provided that their Notion account is associated with a valid educational email address).
For example, Notion can be useful for organizing tasks, taking notes, managing projects, storing information, and monitoring your calendar and schedules.
Note-taking: This is one of Notion’s most prominent features. Notion helps you take notes effectively by providing the structure you need to develop high-quality notes complete with images, videos, bookmarks, and codes.
You can also collaborate with your teammates on the document created by inviting them to add comments and feedback.
Templates: Notion has several templates in diverse categories that saves you a lot of time on thinking and mapping out your tasks and project. They can guide you on your work from the start to finish. You can also create your own templates and use them whenever you need to.
Task and project management: Notion allows you to create and manage all kinds of personal and team projects. You can create to-do lists, tasks, project outlines and timelines and assign tasks and roles to people you are working with.
You can also stay on top of your projects by enabling your notifications to receive project updates and visualize the progress of your projects on the Kanban board.
Easy organization: You can group and organize your notes on Notion to make accessing them easier. This way, Notion also functions as a repository.
Free to custom pricing.
Available on: Web, Android, iOS, web extension, desktop
Todoist is a simple task management app that allows you to organize, monitor, and execute tasks and projects.
Todoist is not designed for heavyweight project management but you will find it very useful if you want to set and achieve short-term goals and manage uncomplicated tasks. And while the app is known for being the go-to software for individual task management, Todoist also allows you to collaborate with your team.
With its layered project management approach, you can include the different parts of a task or project by grouping them under a broader heading; You can also add details on who does what, due dates, recurring tasks, priority, and notifications. And in spite of all it offers, Todoist still manages to be impressively tidy and has an easy-to-navigate interface.
Calendar sync: You can sync your to-do list with your calendar to keep track of important events, dates, and deadlines.
Once you integrate your calendar with Todoist, all your Todoist tasks will be added to your calendar, vice versa. Also, when you make changes to the items on either app, the changes will be automatically reflected on the other. So, you don’t need to manually make updates on the other app after making changes on one.
Reports: Todoist produces a productivity report to give you a view of how productive you have been within a period. The report measures how much work you had set out to do versus how much you completed within the period. You also get a look into the progress of your projects.
Another interesting feature of Todoist reports is the Karma points. The Karma points are measured by considering your goals, streaks, tasks set, and those completed.
Email reminder: In addition to Todoist’s in-app reminder, users receive email reminders on their pending and due tasks. This feature is very effective because the reminders are sent repeatedly to the point that they become hard to miss.
This way, you can stay on track of all your pending tasks.
Free to $72 yearly
Available on web, Android, iOS, Chrome and Safari extensions
Speechify is one of the foremost text-to-speech apps that allows users to listen to books, notes, and other text documents. Instead of reading lengthy texts, you can simply use Speechify to convert them to audio and listen straight away.
Speechify can read up to 900 words per minute. Compared to reading, you would cover more texts you need to in a shorter amount of time.
Speechify supports several languages including English, French, German, Hindi, Italian, Korean, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian, Chinese, and Spanish.
Adjustable reading speed: Speechify has different reading speed options ranging from 100 to 900 words per minute. You can select your preferred reading speed and adjust it as you see fit - even while in the middle of listening to a text.
Notetaking and highlights: You can highlight important parts of your text and color-code them as you like. You can also add notes to the highlighted portions as you read.
Import tabs and documents: Speechify allows you to import open tabs from your browser and documents to listen to them directly on the app. All you have to do is click on the Import Open Tab option on your dashboard and select one of your tabs, then it will be added to your library.
You can also add web links and text documents to your library and organize all the items into folders.
Document scan: You can scan your print documents by taking photos and uploading them to your library. Speechify would then convert the scanned document into text and read it. This function also helps you convert your print documents or books to ebooks.
Free trial to $139 yearly.
Available on web and as a Sketch and Figma plugin
Blush is a design tool that allows you to create illustrations for different projects including UI design, pitches, presentations, web design, marketing campaigns, and even album cover art.
As a productivity tool, Blush gives you a headstart by presenting you with illustrations made by other artists that you can draw inspiration from or customize to create your own unique illustrations. As far as licensing goes, you are not required to acquire one before using the designs you adapt. But it is a good practice to credit the creator whose work you used.
Blush gives you the freedom to customize illustrations regardless of your knowledge level of designs. This is how intuitive and uncomplicated its functions are.
One-click customizations: Even though the illustrations on Blush are largely derivative, Blush remains highly customizable. Blush offers design categories, a color palette, layouts, and background change, and it works with mixable elements so you can customize your favorite illustrations easily.
High-resolution PNGs: Your illustrations come out as high-resolution documents and are ready to use on any product or platform.
Shuffle: Blush can help you make up your mind if you are not sure about which design to use or if you are having a time customizing your illustrations by shuffling, this feature helps you make your decisions faster when you are not clear on what to do.
Filters: Filters allow you to bring in your own custom colors and create more personalized illustrations. All you have to do is select the filters tab, build your own style guides and customize the effect.
Free to $144/yearly.
Figma - Best for UI design
Available on desktop and web
Figma is a UI design tool that helps product teams and web designers develop structures for the product interface.
Figma’s features make it suited for every part of the design process - from wireframing to high-fidelity prototypes. Even though UI design is usually a tedious and complicated process, Figma is impressively intuitive. There are keyboard shortcuts, drag and drop, and guides that make the app easier to navigate and make the design process a lot less daunting.
Its desktop app is compatible with Windows 8.1 and later or macOS 10.12 (macOS Sierra) and later.
Auto Layout: Figma’s Auto Layout feature allows you to automatically create new layouts using intelligent padding, alignment, and spacing rules. It can be added to frames and components to create flexible and adaptable designs.
Collaboration: In addition to design, Figma excels as a collaboration tool for teams. The app is packed with functions that make it easy to correspond and work with team members, such as dropping comments, having audio conversations, asking questions, and collaborating on designs.
Import Sketch files: You can move your designs from Sketch to Figma with Figma’s Sketch import feature. This allows you to import entire design files from Sketch into Figma. This means that you can switch from a Sketch to Figma account without losing your designs from Sketch or having to start over on Figma.
Free to $900/yearly.
Overflow - Best for user flow diagramming
Available on desktop (macOS and Windows)
Overflow is a software that allows you to create and present user flow diagrams. You can use Overflow to clearly represent the flow of your user’s actions to complete tasks - including conditional flows and decision trees.
Overflow allows you to use both existing and custom designs, shapes, connectors, and text to chart your flow diagrams and organize your documents on your dashboard.
Overflow also lets you collaborate with other members of your team with features like comments and multi-seat organizations. It is especially designed to support collaboration for teams of any size as a single team account is sufficient to accommodate everyone on an entire team.
Design tool integration and sync: Overflow integrates with design tools like Adobe XD, Sketch, Figma and Photoshop to create a seamless workflow with the apps and sync your design. The integrations make it possible to transfer visual changes to your design from one app to another by simply iterating the design and resyncing.
Overflow’s sync with design tools also allows you to get a headstart in your user flow creation by transferring the prototyping links added in your design tool as connectors on Overflow. This ultimately helps you save time on your creation process.
Organize documents: You can efficiently organize your documents on Overflow into folders. This helps you better manage and keep track of your documents.
Comments: Comments are a huge part of what Overflow offers in terms of collaboration. While working or after concluding your presentation, you can invite team members and other stakeholders to review your presentation. You also receive email notifications when an invitee drops a comment.
Access control: You can grant different levels of access to your teammates so that they can work with you on the document and make their input where necessary.
Free trial to custom pricing
Available on desktop (macOS and Windows)
Shift is a desktop app that centralizes all your work, communication, and productivity applications into a single interface that you can do all your work from. it supports connection with 1200+ apps across various product categories.
Shift helps you streamline your workflows and makes it easy to do all your work and communication without shuttling between apps. You can use Shift for more than your work-related tasks. For example, can include personal apps like Whatsapp to Shift and manage your personal and work life in the same space.
Workflows: Shift serves as a workflow automation tool. Because all your apps are in one place, you simply need to sign in to your Shift account and access all your other apps by clicking on their icon within your Shift dashboard.
App integrations: Integrations are a huge part of what makes Shift what it is and it does a swell job with this with both local and advanced integrations.
You can also use Shift with Zapier to connect with more apps and further automate your workflows.
Chat and messaging: You can send SMS, MMS and chat messages from your computer with Shift as long as your messaging apps are connected. This allows you to manage multiple messaging and social media accounts including Slack, Gmail, WhatsApp, Messenger, Facebook, Instagram, Asana, and LinkedIn.
Free to $99.99
Available on iOs, Android, desktop, web
Airtable is an easy-to-use project management tool that is good for creating, sharing, organizing and collaborating on relational databases.
It gives you simple building blocks like boards, chats, and grids, to build your own databases, which is like making software without having to code. The databases created have several use cases, including integrations for custom applications, visualizations, and information management.
Airtable Integrates locally with tools like Google Calendar, Slack, Jira, and Salesforce, and has a great API. You can also use Zapier, Integromat, Workato, or Tray.io to extend Airtable’s integration to an additional 1000+ websites and apps.
Finally, one of the best things about Airtable is its interface and appearance. It is visually stunning, easy to work with, and presents its functions very simple.
Automations: Airtable allows you to configure custom workflows that are triggered by preset actions. This helps to eliminate repetitive tasks and reduce errors that would have otherwise been made if done manually.
Real-time collaboration: Airtable has several collaboration features that allow you to partner with your team members on tasks and work asynchronously. All you need to do is invite your collaborators and assign permissions to edit or comment on a document or task and you can begin communicating with them and working together.
Record-level revision history: You can monitor and keep track of activities, when they were performed, and which user is responsible for them on Airtable with the record-level revision history. These are found in the activity feed and help you visualize you and your teammates' activities.
Multiple view options: This is one of the reasons Airtable is such a great project visualization too.
Airtable has multiple view options including Kanban, Calendar, and Gallery views, which allow you to emphasize on the various aspects of your tasks and project.
Free to custom pricing.
Available on web, desktop, iOS, Android, Chrome and Firefox extensions
Pocket is the ultimate repository for all your web readings. It helps you save, organize, and recall articles and files you intend to read at a later time or visit after reading.
With Pocket, you can create reading lists that you can go back to later. And with the Permanent Library, you can make copies of your articles so that you can access them even after they have been deleted from the web.
Overall, Pocket is a great app if you are not content with what your web browser’s bookmark option offers and would like to manage your reading lists better.
Suggested tags: Suggested tags help to organize and keep track of your saved items faster by recommending tags from among your account’s tag list.
Highlights: This feature allows you to select and highlight important sentences and parts of your article so that you can find them easily whenever you want. The highlighted texts are stored in the Highlights section on your dashboard.
Full-text search: You can search your Pocket account for your saved content with the Full-text search. This way, you can find what you are looking for faster without remembering coherent details.
Free to $44.99/yearly
Forest - Best for focus and concentration
Available on iOS, Android, Chrome extension
Forest is an app that helps you focus on your tasks for a set period by planting trees. With Forest, you set a timer for a task and completely avoid distractions during the set period to grow a virtual healthy tree.
If you leave the app before the set time is up, the tree will die. However, if you stick the time out and stay on the app, you will receive coins as a reward. The coins you receive are proportionate to the amount of time you set and can be collected until you reach the required threshold for planting a real tree in a developing country and helping the environment.
Your trees are planted on a piece of land so you can see how well they are performing and how many more trees you have to plant to create your forest.
The reason Forest works so well includes its:
Manageable work time: You set your time yourself and can select the timeframe that works for you.
Added motivation: On Forest, you grow a tree while you work, and you receive coins as a reward. Also, the prompt to leave the app is tagged “Give Up” and the confirmation message reads “You will kill this cute little tree”. These are both designed to discourage you from leaving before the time is up.
Habit building: Forest helps you get rid of bad habits like phone dependency and build better ones.
Setting small, manageable goals and regularly carving out time to spend in complete focus mode will gradually improve your concentration threshold and help you become more disciplined.
Blocklist mode: The Blocklist feature is a way to reduce distractions while using Forest. You can include websites you find distracting to your Blocklist so that you are barred from visiting them during your planting season, i.e when your timer is activated.
Allowlist mode: The Allowlist mode is another interesting Forest feature that helps you stay focused. When you are in the Allowlist mode, you can only visit the websites on your allowlist during the planting season.
Planting records: Forest allows you to document your planting seasons in the form of logs. They are short records of the duration of your focus period, time, category, and your notes or comments, which help you keep track of how long you have worked, what you worked on, and any additional thoughts you would like to document.
Free to $1.99 monthly.
Available as a browser extension (Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge)
OneTab helps you organize your open tabs by converting them into lists you can access whenever you need to while conserving memory that would have otherwise been spent on the open tabs.
OneTab improves your productivity by decluttering your browser, collecting, and organizing all your tabs and windows into a single, simple page.
The lists created are grouped by windows and each tab group is presented according to their date of creation so that you can find what you need easily.
Tag Group Management: You can manage each tag group by using the functions that allow you to name tab groups for ease of reference, lock them so they don’t move, and star them.
Import and Export Tabs: You can import and export your tabs as lists. This makes it easy to transfer and upload several links on your browser at the same time.
Drag and Drop Tabs: The drag and drop feature allows you to conveniently move tabs within and outside your tab groups.
While having the right productivity tools is great, you also have to learn and figure out the different ways you can use them to work for you.
And if you would like to learn more about productivity and more exciting products that can help you in your journey to doing more and better, check out the following articles:
Michael started his career as a product manager and then developed a passion for writing. He has been writing on technology, remote working, productivity, etc., hoping to share his thoughts with more people.