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.
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]