GETTING SH*T DONE

5 Productivity Apps to Help You Stay Focused

Kate Bagoy, August 2017

As a creative entrepreneur, I know how easy it is to feel overwhelmed. Your head’s brewing new ideas, making to-do lists, and keeping track of stories ideas or articles. You’re overloaded with input…

This can lead to feeling discouraged or even burnt-out. Sometimes, people on this path lose the ability to see their vision, or start to feel their goals are out of reach or even impossible to achieve.

This is all totally normal, but it doesn’t have to be a way of life! We get to this point because we let intangible clutter take over our calendars, then our minds and our lives. Luckily, we can clear the clutter. We can get things done, and be less overwhelmed.

We usually overestimate what we can do in a day, but underestimate what we can do in a year. If we don’t learn to control the clutter and focus, we don’t end up living up to our full potential. This means saying “no” to more, making sure our to-do lists shrink and (most importantly) relying less on our memory so we can free up our minds to focus on the big stuff!

There are all kinds of tools that can help build a workflow, and apps often give you the most bang for your buck. After several years of honing, I’ve settled on my top picks and have a great routine that works for me. Here are my top five apps, which each have made my days less frantic and more productive.

Five Minute Journal

Why: Gives me an awesome dose of gratitude and focus, daily.
How it works: I use the Five Minute Journal app every day. In the morning, I use it to record the things I’m grateful for, and start the day on a positive note, then I create my priorities so that I know exactly what will make the day successful! At night, I use the app to record three amazing things that happened, upload a photos and note what could have gone better. I go to bed feeling grateful and ready to keep improving.

The same company also sells great hardback planners and journals here.

One Big Thing

Why: Helps me get some extreme focus.

How it works: I use One Big Thing to identify the one thing that is most important to me each day. I log the one thing that I must do, so there’s no confusion about where my focus should be. This level of extreme focus means that my goal for the day – and also my measure of success – is crystal clear. It’s super useful if you’re easily overwhelmed, and want a reminder of how you should make decisions throughout the day. If you’re a new entrepreneur, this is a way to streamline your daily work so that it gets you closer to cash sooner.

Todoist

Why: Stores my ideas in one place, and frees my brain up for the big things.

How it works: I use Todoist as a place to dump the contents of my brain. From ideas, to blog posts, to errands, to opportunities, it catches it all. Todoist has desktop and smartphone apps, browser plugins, and email customizations. Using these different channels, I can do things like create project-based to-do lists, schedule recurring tasks, create reminders, and assign priorities. What do I get out of it? A clear, running list of ideas that I can pull from. Most importantly, I get a clearer mind. By dumping important – but not immediately needed – information there, I can keep my brain on task and not be afraid of forgetting something.

Pocket, Keep + Evernote

Why: Keeps track of inspiring tidbits.

How it works: The apps I use for this are more diverse, but they fall into one category: tools to capture inspiration, and clear digital clutter. These apps store content I find that keeps me excited or informed, whether it’s an interesting article on a related industry, or a really cool tool that would be helpful to a client, or notes that I might flesh out into a blog or social post. I use browser plugins along with the app versions of Google Keep, Pocket & Evernote to bookmark articles, keep samples of great copy, or save interesting photos. This turns into a record of the things that shape my work, and a place I can always turn to for ideas – without taking up space when I need to focus.

Blinkist

Why: Teaches me something everyday.

How it works: I try to learn something every day that is going to help me in my business, and you in yours! To do this, I listen to books or book summary on audio or podcasts to make use of “no extra time” time, like when I’m walking or driving somewhere. This turns “down time” into productive time. One of my favorites is Blinkist, which has summaries of productivity books, and extracts presents the most important points in a quick-to-understand way. Choosing to learn one thing every day will improve anyone’s business, and is a really important step for everyone.

With these different apps, I’ve been able to build days that are less frantic and more productive. I feel like more of my ideas make it into practice, but I don’t feel bogged down by the weight of carrying them in my head all the time.

Try them out and see what you think!

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