5 Apps that Give You Time Back

Sometimes productivity apps can take so much time to manage; they take more time away from us. These give time back.

5 Apps that Give You Time Back
Photo by Dmitriy Belenovsky / Unsplash

Sometimes productivity apps can take so much time to manage; they take more time away from us.  These apps are easy to use and put precious time into your day!

In this post

Todoist for Task Management

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What problem does this app solve?
Many task apps take time to learn, and even once you do, filling out all those blanks to get a task into the system can take longer than simply writing the task down.

Why choose this app over others?
Todoist excels in both data entry and scalability. Entering tasks as you say them, such as "Leave to meet with John next Tuesday at 2 pm," Generating a task on the correct date and time, and "Pull payroll report every Tuesday," sets up a recurring task with little effort.

Todoist is also remarkably scalable. You can add teammates to allow for easy delegation, organize by projects or hashtags, and enter it all with simple language, including @ for inline tagging or # to drop right into a project. So, "@Lead #Build Better Designs Send zoom link to Bob tonight" Would create a task "Send zoom link to Bob" with a due date tonight after work, assigned to the project "Build Better Designs" and tagged "lead."

Also, you can integrate with Gmail, Outlook, and other clients, taking this to a new level. Click the button "Send to Todoist," and it is added and linked. Game changer.

Why this might not work for you.
These kinds of apps are only beneficial if you use them. For some, keeping tasks in the same notebook as their notes is an integral part of their flow.

How I use this app.
I use this app to quickly capture tasks throughout the day to organize them when I have time to focus. I also use this to delegate tasks and communicate through the comment system instead of scheduling meetings, saving even more time. I have also used the task history to clarify client billing, recall dates conversations happened, or even build estimates for clients based on historical needs done.

Cost
For most, the free tier will be all you need - allowing for three unarchived projects. If you outgrow the free plan, paid plans allow more active projects starting at $4 per month per user.

Excellent task management for work and life.

Visit todoist.com

Trello for Delegation

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What problem does this app solve?
Know who is working on what and the progress made in a single board view that Kanban enthusiasts will love. Save time by canceling all of those follow-up meetings.

Why choose this app over others?
Although Todoist now has the same Kanban view as an option, Trello does this better than anyone. This app is for you if a visual system of task progression and organization is your thing.

Why this might not work for you.
For some, the visual organization may be a significant departure from the written list or sticky note filled monitor you use now. Adoption may also be challenging, causing you to have more meetings instead of fewer. Adoption will be essential to see the time savings with this one.

How I use this app.
I find Trello to be best with a project that involves stages of completion, like web design work.

Cost
The free tier is great for most. Teams should look at higher levels starting at $5 per month per user.

Track progress visually. Delegate effortlessly.

Visit Trello.com

Pomodor Timer for Concentration

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What problem does this app solve?
Attention span is challenging for most of us. Amrita Mandal, Ph.D. from the National Institute of Health, recommends the Pomodoro technique of 25 minutes of work and 5 minutes of rest to maximize productive concentration.

Why choose this app over others?
We can use this free, web-based app anywhere, and its design and simplicity make this an excellent choice for most.

Why this might not work for you.
Some work or education environments require continuous concentration for more prolonged periods, making this technique impractical.

How I use this app.
It is easy to get fatigued in high-concentration activities, such as coding or design. I may take much longer to do a project and either increase billable hours (not in a good way) or lower my hourly earnings if it is flat-rate. This method keeps me sharp and creative every time; this web app is how I do it.

Cost
Free. Not much more to say about that.

Pomodor is a concentration game-changer.

Visit Pomodor.app

Pocket to Stay on Task

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What problem does this app solve?
Have you ever started to look for something on the web and ended up so far down a rabbit hole you don't remember where you started? Pocket gives you a place to put all the stuff to return to when you should be browsing your time away.

Why choose this app over others?
There are a few competitors in this category. Still, Pocket has done a great job of being on every device and browser your use with extensions that make collecting interesting pages a simple click. Articles present in a beautiful, distraction-free interface that gets you to the information without the ads.

Why this might not work for you.
Using Pocket isn't about pushing work to later; that doesn't get time back. When you add a page to Pocket, you have the option to tag it. Do that, and your organization is taken care of in one step.

How I use this app.
I may be doing research for a client and creating a unique tag, adding potential solutions quickly. Or, I might browse while watching TV and start that tag for the following weekend away I have been meaning to take.

You can highlight and favorite in the app, making everything nice and organized.

Cost
Free. Premium removes ads.

Get out of the black hole and get organized.

Visit getpocket.com

Blinkist for Better Reading Efficiency

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What problem does this app solve?
Blinkist is an excellent resource of audio and written summaries of thousands of books. This app allows you to get the main points of the writing and decide if you want to invest the time to read the entire book.

Why choose this app over others?
Blinkest is simply the best at what it does. The summaries are excellent, the audio is beneficial on a commute, and the library is one of the best in the business.

Why this might not work for you.
Although the summaries are excellent, they are not in-depth enough to understand the context. This app can create a breadth of knowledge on a subject without depth, so it is not a substitute for reading and researching critical issues.

How I use this app.
I use this app as advertised, gathering key concepts that help me build a reading list where I want depth.

Cost
$99 annually or $15.99 per month. Although this is the priciest on the list, it adds the most value to my professional development and will for you. There is a 7-day trial available.

Blinkist is a game changer for professional development.