Staying on Track

By Shanuka Kadupitiyage | Published: 2:00 AM Jan 1 2022
Tech Talk Staying on Track

By Shanuka Kadupitiyage

With 2022 already underway, we’re all excited to start the year with our best foot forward, work hard, and maybe even complete one of those new year resolutions.

Starting this year productively must be something you’ve already had in your mind. If you’re anything like me, having a daily planner at hand is essential to keep track of what needs to get done, especially when you have a busy schedule. 

Of course, you could always have the traditional, physical daily planner. Why change something that already works. Also, nothing comes close to the satisfaction you get crossing off a task you’ve completed from your daily planner. Having a physical planner is always satisfying, but it’s not always convenient. Carrying a book with you everywhere you go can be a hassle.

Using a productivity app on my smartphone has been a great alternative. For years I’ve tried various apps that all claim to help me be the most productive I can be, which has made me wonder, which is the most effective productivity app of them all?

If you’re interested in trying out being productive using digital tools, consider reading through my impressions of some of the more popular productivity apps I’ve tried, and finding what works best for your needs. 

Evernote

This popular note-taking and planner app has been around for quite some time, and there’s a reason for it. This app allows you to take down notes not only as text, but as pictures, audio, sketches, PDFs and more. Not only that, you are able to synchronise your notes and plans across multiple devices, allowing a seamless experience. 

Sadly, the app is too overrated, and to be frank, the regular note taking apps on our devices do pretty much the same thing anyway. So what’s the point?

But if you like the UI, it might be worth a shot.

Todoist

One of the most comprehensive daily-to-do list trackers that have appeared recently, this app has a load of functionality that you will enjoy. This includes all the usual bells and whistles, including location-based notifications. It works fine, there isn’t anything special that it brings to the table.

Sticky notes

Ah yes, the classic sticky notes app built into windows. We’ve all used it (including me). 

It’s definitely effective, and gets the job done for the most part. Sadly, you don’t get the satisfaction of ripping out that sticky note and crumpling it, putting all your frustration into the effort with a digital sticky note. Not only that, they tend to clutter the screen which is a nuisance. It does the job, it’s just not pretty.

Habitica

This app has one of the most interesting concepts when it comes to being productive. When signing up for the app, you create an in-game character for yourself. Each time you complete a task, you’re awarded a number of points which can be used to buy new items and to level-up your character. 

I tried this app for a couple of weeks, just for the fun of it, but ended up uninstalling it in the end. While I appreciate the out-of-the-box concept, I just find it too much of a hassle. I’d rather have a simple app that gets the job done, with no fuss or trouble. 

But maybe the app will work for you, so don’t hesitate to give it a try.

Trello

If you’re working together on something, Trello is a great app to have. Keeping track of collaborations is a strength in Trello. Using the app, you’re able to create lists, jot down tasks, collaborate and share a calendar together.

But if you’re looking for something to keep yourself productive, Trello can still get the job done, but the extra fat can sometimes be hard to look past. 

Of course, that changes if you’re working with a team. Then trello can be a great option, so feel free to try it out.

Google workspaces

Ah yes, the company that knows everything about us (unless you use Facebook as well). 

But there’s a reason why the company has risen to become the tech giant they are today; they understand what people want. 

When it comes to productivity apps, what people want are simple tools that get the job done, and blend into the background after. Google understood that.

Google workspaces as a whole operate well together. The core productivity however, is separated into three tools; Calendar, Keep and Tasks. All three will appear on the right side of your screen while using their services on your computer, and are simple, easy as well as functional. If you use an android smartphone, even better because you will also have seamless integration. 

The only gripe I have is with the Google Calendar app on mobile, which is simply too cluttered and because they use too many colours of a similar hue, it’s difficult to read all the information at a glance. 

There’s also my constant worry at how much personal information I’m already giving to google in the first place, but then again, you can’t be too safe.

Microsoft’s productivity suite

Of course, if you use windows then you already have an alternative in Microsoft’s productivity suite. Subscribing to Office 365 allows you to have an array of amazing tools to help you in your workflow, especially when working from home and collaborating with others. But you don’t need to do that if you’re only looking to keep yourself productive. 

Microsoft’s calendar is pretty effective and the calendar in their outlook app has the cleanest UI when it comes to calendar apps. I’ve been using it for some time and find it very satisfying. I wish I could say the same about its To Do app, which I find difficult to stick to. Google’s is simply better. 

My recommendation

Currently, I’ve settled in with a mix and match of Google’s Tasks for my daily list of tasks, which I plan for every morning while using Microsoft’s Calendar to keep track of appointments, simply because I like its user interface better. So far, this combination, paired with physical sticky notes for anything urgent I need to do during the day has been the most effective for me to remain productive and on-top of everything throughout my schedule.

I won’t guarantee that this combination will work for you, but it has for me, and it’s a great place to start.

If you’re feeling adventurous, why not try the other productivity applications for fun as well, although they didn’t work for me, it might be just what you’ve been looking for.

By Shanuka Kadupitiyage | Published: 2:00 AM Jan 1 2022

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