5 Apps To Help You Swing Back Into Productivity Mode

A look at the best new apps designed to help you stay on top of email, keep your to-do lists streamlined, type on the go, and even wake up more easily.

As kids across the country jump back into their busy school routines this September, it's a great time for adults to bid farewell to summertime slacking and embrace the latest and greatest productivity tools.

When thinking about getting more done, popular apps such as Evernote and Dropbox come to mind, but here are a few new digital downloads that stand out from the crowd and get a big thumbs-up for making our busy work lives easier to keep on track.

Clear: Drag, drop, pinch, and swipe your to-do lists.
While there are plenty of to-do list apps, few will stand up against Clear in terms of simplicity. If you're looking for a list-making app that is dead easy, this is it. Moreover, Clear takes advantage of some simple movements on your iPhone to make managing all the things you have to do more enjoyable. For example, if you want to exit a list to move back to the main menu, you simply pinch vertically on the screen to "shut" that list. To complete an item in a list, swipe right; to delete an item in a list, swipe left. It's also easy to drag and drop items, and the app is color-coded so you can keep the important stuff (in red) at the top. Oh, and you can shake to undo an item, once again saving us a few seconds in our day.

SwiftKey 3: Type faster, smarter, and more accurately.
If you're thinking about leaving the iPhone for Android, this app could seal the deal. I've been (happily) using an Android phone for about six months, but I've been frustrated with the built-in predictive text system. Too often the phone fails to "guess" the correct word I'm trying to type, so I'm left stumbling to find a match. Fortunately, just this week I stumbled upon SwiftKey 3. This app uses artificial intelligence to learn your writing style and it even predicts the words you might want to type next. If it sounds creepy, it is, but in a good way if you're trying to boost your email and messaging productivity. SwiftKey 3 also predicts the people you know and the places you go based on how much access you give it to sources such as your Facebook, Gmail, and Twitter accounts. For example, if you're writing an email on your Android phone within Gmail (with SwiftKey 3 installed), you can press the spacebar to see what words the app thinks you might want to write next. While not everyone will be comfortable granting this access, the app's privacy policy explains that the company never stores or collects your login credentials, key presses, or passwords.

FreshBooks: Invoice, track time, and manage expenses on the go.
As a small business owner, my company has been using FreshBooks for some time for everyday accounting purposes. There are few cloud-based tools that make invoicing as easy, and dare I say, kind of fun. Moreover, if you're doing hourly client work, you can track your unbilled hours (and even manage team projects with team time sheets, including the option to have different rates for different projects). Just recently, FreshBooks launched its iPhone app so you can do all of these things on the go. Trust me, there is nothing more satisfying on the productivity front than stepping away from your desk, sitting down for a quick bite to eat, and sending an invoice on your iPhone for a job well done.

Captio: Email yourself with one quick tap.
Productivity gurus the around the world will tell you that using your email as your to-do list is a big no-no. However, for many people (myself included), this is a tough habit to break. And Captio doesn't make it any easier to ditch using your in-box for task management since it makes it easy to send yourself an email message with one fast click. Open the app, write a message, and press "Send." For those of you hooked on Evernote or other popular note-based tools, Captio allows for easy integration with these services. In short, if Evernote is just too many clicks when you have to remind yourself to call someone or pick up some milk, and you want a message to rise to the top of your email, Captio will do the trick.

Wayk 4: Wake up with a next-generation alarm clock.
It's impossible to be productive during the day without a good night's sleep. Wayk 4 calls itself a "revolutionary alarm clock," based on how it performs—it's a little smarter than your typical wake-me-up device. To set an alarm simply turn the inner digital wheel to choose the hour and the outer digital wheel to choose the minutes. When the alarm goes off in the morning, wave your hand over the top of your phone to snooze for a few more minutes (before you hit the pillow for some more rest, a voice will remind you of the time, and the voice will do the same thing when you finally wake up for good, along with sharing the local temperature out loud). If you want to wake up to your Google Calendar or your favorite RSS feeds on your screen, that is also an option so you're prepared for what you have on tap for the day before you even set foot on the ground.

Which productivity tools do you find most useful? Share your app suggestions in the comments section below!

[Image: Flickr user .Bala]

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  • Appsicum

    Hey guys you can also download the Future
    Scheduler and Location Alerts Productivity apps, they are pretty cool. I am amazed with this app!!! Works perfect for me!


  • June

    I have Samsung galaxy 3 and will change to iPhone 5 which I prefer is iPhone better than Samsung. So wondering if iPhone can get android and need swiftkey 3 I love it. Will it possible use in iPhone 5?

  • Kleidnyc

    Am quite pleased with the reminder app that popped up on my deck upon recently updating my iPhone. Though not a calendar app, it's organizable by date and is settable for a reminder ring tone. As already mentioned, it's a nice separation from sending reminders to oneself via email or adding to an actual calendar app.

  • Laci Lewis

    Remember The Milk has proven to be very helpful, but I recently switched to Evernote

  • Dr. Frank Buck

    I use SwiftKey 3, and I can now type faster than I could on my BlackBerry physical keyboard. You don't have to be terribly accurate for SwiftKey to know what you meant and present the correct thing as a choice. The ability for it to also predict the *next* word is what sells it for me. Another thing I like is that you don't have to go to a different screen to get numbers, symbols, or punctuations. Finally, you have a little microphone icon on the keyboard, allowing you to input by voice. It's the best $4 I ever spent.

  • Adi Mishra

    Thanks - Captio is new to me and seems instantly useful. Do check out LifeTopix - it takes a "total personal organization" approach to productivity instead of doing just one thing. http://lightarrow.com - let us know what you think.

  • Marc Medios

    I was very disappointed with FreshBooks. Nowhere on their page or entire site can you get information about their pricing. Nowhere.

  • Tanel Poder

    I would add Voic.ee App too the list (disclosure, I'm one of the guys who built it, to solve our own problem with distributed team communication).

    We built it because we wanted fast and "distractionless" voice messaging between team-members when working on a project. Making a phone call or switching to another window for typing an email (or worse, SMSing on the phone) always took enough time to get distracted from the work we were doing. And typing vs talking is slow! Before anyone comments that there are already plenty of such tools out there - we found all their UIs quite limiting when talking to many different people throughout the day (and ugly too)! So we built our own solution to the problem :)

  • David Burrows

    For video ecommerce, may I add www.Cinsay.com ?  Cinsay allows you to upload videos shot from your smartphone into a platform where you can add products, services and even donation requests - all executed inside the video.  And it can be embedded into Facebook, tumblr and viewed on mobile devices. 

  • Oleg Galkin

    This web-app is for desktop but still deserves to be recognized: BlackScreen1.com. Helps to stay focused and to have a rest for eyes during computer work.

  • K.Gilley

    www.TheAlarmQuote.com wakes me up with a new motivating/funny/inspirational quote to jump-start my day. I can set countdowns to a presentation, vacation or race that I am training for and the countdown shows up in my daily text message alarm! Gets me going in the AM!

  • Dan Mimis

    DiCheetal Searchelerator™: a free app for targeted,
    customizable web searches rapidly yielding high-quality results. The best search tool on the market.

  • Nams

    Out of Milk - one of the best grocery checklist, that has not just helped us save time and gas, but also money!

  • Sarah Heidlberg

    Wish that Wayk4 app existed for iPhone. Anyone know anything similar?

  • Benjamin Taub

     I use Sleep Cycle on my iPhone, which shares the gentle wake up function, although its primary purpose is to track your sleep cycles using the iPhone's accelerometer.

    It works! I love it.