Technology is a double-edged sword regarding work and productivity. The frequent shift to social media and YouTube can easily disrupt a good flow and kill progress. But that same smartphone and computer that’s oh-so-distracting can also be used to boost productivity if used correctly. Whether it’s an app, a device or some other gadget, these are the pieces of budget-friendly tech that can actually help you work better and faster.
The problem with word document apps like Google Docs is they sit right next to those other tempting tabs on your web browser. One minute you’re crafting away prose on a blank canvas, the next you’re binge-watching baby goats doing parkour off other goats. Writers need a way to click less and type more, and Write! is the distraction-free writing app to help block out the rest of the internet.
Write! is a full-screen desktop app for Mac and Windows with a minimalistic interface so you can focus on words and words alone. It also has other nifty features like cloud storage and share tools to collaborate with other writers. But if twenty bucks is too steep for your budget, Hemingway is the web-based free alternative.
There’s nothing newsworthy about music as a productivity tool, but your favorite, familiar tunes may be doing more harm than good. Music with familiar music has actually been shown to hinder learning and productivity because your brain is likely singing along with the words.
So, what makes Spotify good for productivity? Unlike its competitors over at Apple and Google, Spotify is really good at curated playlists dedicated to improving productivity. Playlists like “Brain Food” and “Deep Focus” are constantly updated with new transcendent, lyric-less songs to get your mind right and on task. Plus, it’s the perfect excuse to shut out your noisy co-workers with a quality pair of headphones.
Pre-Paid Data Plans
What’re 50 videos of goat parkour when data is unlimited, right? While browsing on a smartphone without data caps is liberating, it can also be very distracting. A good way to lock down your discipline and slim down your phone bill is to find a good pre-paid data plan for your phone. Think of it as a game, you’ll only use data for productive purposes to get more done and save money at the same time. It’s a win-win.
Project management software such as SharePoint and Workfront rule the office, but sometimes it’s all too big for personal productivity. While many workers create a personal kanban with a whiteboard and post-it notes, Trello is the (mostly) free web app that brings the personal kanban to your desktop.
Trello filters tasks into buckets, such as “queue,” “in progress” and “completed,” and help organize your work on a daily, weekly and monthly timeline. It’s jam-packed with good features like labeling, file attachments, Google Drive support, collaboration tools and more. The features you really need are free while the more powerful tools cost $5 per month or $45 per year. Any worker who is an organizational freak will find a lot of use bringing the kanban into the digital realm.