The 7 best tools for making 2019 your most productive year yet

The most basic productivity tools get a boost from new design and technology.

The 7 best tools for making 2019 your most productive year yet

Did you know that our obsession with productivity goes back nearly 300 years? Today’s time management gurus can thank Benjamin Franklin not only for creating the first to-do list but also for getting at the essence of what it means to be productive. He did this by asking himself two simple questions, one each morning and one at the end of each day. “What good shall I do this day?” and “What good have I done today?”


Left out of this lofty assessment was the actual business of getting stuff done. Which is what we’re here to help you with. Fast Company’s reporting and research on productivity is extensive (we even have a dedicated podcast that gives you the skinny on how to wrestle the most out of a workday), so as the calendar turns to a new year, we’ve mined this trove of intel to advise you on what to buy to have your best, most productive year yet.

The ultimate productivity app

[Image: Cultured Code]

The Things app has been completely redesigned and includes new features to boost the humble to-do list. Organized by time of day, you can add more details (tags, deadlines) that are searchable and link with your other devices. Things also has a feature to set both short- and long-term goals, and check off completed steps.

iOS $9.99 for phone and watch; $49.99 for Mac


A politeness tool for busy people

[Screenshot: CircleUp]

Any time you have a meeting on your calendar, CircleUp sends a daily summary with links that open a customizable template email, addressed to the people you met with, thanking them for their time.

CircleUp, $5 per month

A great read on how to make effective changes

[Image: Penguin Random House]

Make Time  was penned by the creators of GV’s (formerly Google Ventures) renowned “design sprint. They have helped hundreds of teams solve intractable problems by changing how they work. In this book, they specifically show you how making small shifts in your day can save you from distraction and help you focus.


Amazon, $18.36

Daily buzz delivered to your doorstep

[Image: Kohana Coffee]

Stay fueled and save time by getting coffee delivered from Kohana Coffee, the first roaster to bring shelf-stable cold brew to the U.S. market. Kohana exclusively buys organic, fairly traded beans from female growers.

Kohana Coffee, 32 oz cold brew $12.50 and up; bags of beans $9.89; 10% off for monthly subscription


A thirst-quenching confidence booster

[Photo: Please Notes]

Stay hydrated and give your self-confidence a productive boost. These stickers are latest offering from PleaseNotes. Each a different quality or feeling on the front, and a matching affirmation on the back, like “Courage–I Am Choosing To Take Risks And Dare Greatly.”

PleaseNotes Label of Love Water Bottle Affirmations

Set of 3 reusable labels $12.95


An app to ensure you’ll always be at your best

[Screenshots: Calm]

The latest version of the Calm sleep app offers guided meditation and videos that help you gently stretch and prepare for a good night. Exclusive music and sound can be used to relax or focus. New sessions are released each day and Sleep Stories are new each week.

Calm, free trial subscription provides access to the entire catalog; otherwise $12.99/month, $59.99/year, and $299.99 for a lifetime subscription

The most productive way to rise and shine

[Photo: Philips]

The most productive way to sleep is to keep the phone away from your bed. This latest version of Philips’s Wake-Up Light Alarm Clock changes color and intensity until you rise (and if you don’t, it plays music). It does double duty as a bedside lamp and this latest version comes with a free three-month subscription to the Headspace meditation app.


Amazon, $49.99


About the author

Lydia Dishman is the senior editor for Growth & Engagement for She has written for CBS Moneywatch, Fortune, The Guardian, Popular Science, and the New York Times, among others.