Top 5 Productivity Apps
Top 5 Productivity Apps
Guest contributor: Yifat Shirben, Marketing Consultant

Hi, my name is Yifat and I’m addicted to my phone! There, I said it.
Here’s the thing – life as we know it, is just getting more and more complex as we grow up, move up the ladder or expand globally.
It can be overwhelming at times as we are constantly pushed to produce more results, in shorter amount of times and multi-tasking all the way through it. If you ever stared at your screen with a “what was I just doing?” puzzled face you know what I mean!
Which brings me back to my phone. I read somewhere that the average person has around 30 apps installed on their smartphone. I’m pretty sure they didn’t look at my phone as I have almost triple that number! However, in reality I probably only use a third of them on a daily basis and half of those is to manage my social & personal life (WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pages, Skype, Camera, photos etc.).
Which brings me down to the reason you are all reading this for – productivity.

In the past few months I added quite a few apps that should help me tackle those everyday business-personal time management issues. Here are the top 5 apps I’m using (or shall I say addicted to) everyday, a few times a day but for a good reason!
Trello – My to do list on steroids

Being a marketing consultant means that I’m working with different clients on various projects simultaneously on top of running my own business.
To keep up with it all I have tried everything from pen & paper, notepads, digital notes, emailing myself  and some other technical solutions, but nothing seemed to be doing the job. I felt like I was wasting a fair amount of my time on just copying lists and trying to understand where I was at.
And then came along Trello… it’s the easiest and most visual way to organise task lists. With Trello you can create organisations that have boards. In each board you can have lists and in each list you can add tasks. You can share these with people, assign it to them, add checklists (and track their progress), add due dates and labels.
As an example I have a board for a website with lists such as “bugs to fix”, “content to add”, “in dev mode”, “done” etc.

The most creative one I did was for a colleague that came back after a long vacation. I created a “welcome back board” and asked everyone in the team to write stuff under “what has changed”, “why we missed  you”, “tips to survive coming back from a vacation” and “other”. Needless to say it was very successful and she got very excited about it.
So to sum things up: It’s very visual, searchable, easy to switch between boards, syncs with your desktop and it’s free. I’m in love!
Slack – Making team communication easier
I can’t really explain why it got me hooked because there are a lot of other communication apps out there that I’ve used in the past (Skype and HipChat for example), but something about Slack is so easy and friendly to use. I'm also finding more and more of my clients are now using Slack every day too.

One major advantage is that it has dramatically reduced my email inbox. It’s easier to “speak” about small issues over Slack instead of going back and forth with one line emails.

The fact that you can create hashtags for specific conversations helps put things in the right context. But the best thing about it is how easy it is to search.
One downside is that when it's on it is a bit distracting as you receive alerts with each message. However that will be the case with every communication app and it’s just a matter of educating your team members as to how to use it professionally and productively.
AnyClass – My new fitness buddy on the go
Between working full time and taking care of my two beautiful girls, getting myself to a fitness class often seems like an impossible mission, especially if I need to commit to the class a few days in advance. AnyClass is a new wellbeing trend that came from the US, which I was more than happy to embrace!
With over 4,000 classes to choose from each week in Sydney, I can always find something next to my home, my clients, my meetings or my friends. Then I can easily book a class directly from the app - even as late as 5 minutes before the class starts!
Everyday I get to choose from meditation, yoga, crossfit and even pole dancing (didn’t try this one yet though). I usually take the short classes on my lunch break and the longer ones on my way to work, or later in the evening.
Needless to say that keeping up with my workout routine motivates me to eat better and in return I’m much more energetic and focused (and productive).

For only $25 a week and with no commitment I think it’s the perfect app to have if you like variety and your schedule is as busy as it can get!
NextThere – Because I hate waiting for the bus
The amount of time I wasted waiting for the bus/train could easily accumulate to at least an hour a week! An hour! I could squeeze in another meeting…
But that was before I discovered NextThere.
Not much to say about it other than the fact it shows you the real-time transportation schedule. Simple but genius!

For the last couple of months I don’t leave home/the office before I check the schedule. If I see the bus is running late, I take advantage of this extra time by actually getting things done. If it’s on time, I storm out to my next adventure.

ShoeBoxed – My personal bookkeeper
As a small business owner, if there’s something I don’t like doing it is the financial stuff. Going over all the invoices and receipts at the end of each quarter for this all so important BAS, is one of the most time & energy consuming tasks on my list.
I recently started using ShoeBoxed as a solution for managing all of my expenses. As part of their turn key service they also have a mobile app in which you can take pictures of your receipts and it’s automatically stored in the cloud and translated into a text file (so you can later download as an excel file from your desktop).
It’s easy, affordable and takes the pain out of being your own bookkeeper (well the majority of it).
And that’s it. These are my top 5 apps I have found to help me lately to boost my productivity. I’m always on the search for new ones… which ones are yours?