I’m one of those people that work on too many things at one time. I try to focus on one or two at a time, but I still have plenty of ideas in the back of my head. What helps me to keep all this organized are project management tools. So, I’ve put together a list of some of the best productivity apps.
Productivity Apps I’ve Tried
First, let’s talk about some project management software that I’ve tried in the past. I don’t use these programs anymore, but they might help you if you’ve never heard of them or tried them.
I’ve tried Toggl Track before, and I didn’t last too long with it. I originally got it to keep track of my time working on clients’ projects. But once I stopped offering those services, I stopped using Toggl Track.
It’s a neat time tracking software, though. Of course, you can pay for Toggl Track, but I used the free version, which allowed up to five users (although it was only me), and you could time yourself with unlimited projects. So, the free version was everything and more than what I needed.
It was a helpful program while I had it. It worked because you could set up a project, assign it a tag, team, client, etc. You could organize your many projects and even set deadlines for them.
When you worked on them, you simply hit the “play” button on the browser, and you’d see the timer in the tab when you off-tab. You could pause at any time and stop it when you were done for the day. It was a great time management tool.
Finally, it would also log how many hours you’ve worked on the project daily, weekly, and monthly.
This was especially great for me because I would work x-amount of hours per day on client work. This way, I could prove that I worked the hours I said I did in case anything happened.
Even though it’s a great program, I haven’t had much of a need for it anymore. But it’s always good to know that it exists.
Toggl also has two other programs: Toggl Plan and Toggl Hire.
Toggl Plan is a small management program for teams and projects. Toggl Hire is – you guessed it – a hiring tool for small businesses to screen potential candidates.
I’ve never used Toggl Hire because I’ve never needed to hire anyone, and I’ve also never used Toggl Plan because I already used other similar programs.
So, let’s talk about Airtable. This program is a project management tool where you have “bases.” Each base is its project that you can have access to yourself, or you can share with others, inviting them to Airtable.
This is another program I don’t use anymore. I began using it when I joined a team that used it to track all their writing projects for a website. So, I decided to use it for myself as well.
I had a few bases, some of them organized into different sections. For example, I had one section for Double Jump, which I shared with my Sister. In addition, we had a couple of bases for the website, our Twitch channel, and finances.
I had another section with bases solely for my writing projects and website. Then I had a personal section where I kept track of my finances.
These tools were great because each base could be viewed differently. For example, there was a task pipeline view where you have boards, and you could freely move the cards around, timeline view, calendar, or view the projects grouped by categories.
I often looked at all projects simultaneously because it was like a spreadsheet view. I could make the grids checkboxes, colorful tags, assign a date, assign a person, write a quick note, add a long paragraph, and more.
This was another program that was useful to me when I used it. But then I sort of grew out of it and could find better options for myself.
Out of all the programs listed here that I tried but didn’t necessarily use anymore, I think Asana is my favorite.
If you know me, you know how much I love to-do lists and checkboxes.
With Asana, you can use it alone or have a team. Each team can have multiple projects. These projects can be a checklist, board, timeline, or calendar view. I like the checklist best.
I switched to Asana when I decided Airtable was no longer for me. For a while, I was able to track the various projects I worked on – the podcast, my websites, my freelance work, my creative writing projects, and more.
I no longer use Asana for personal reasons, but I still work with a team that uses Asana. It’s a simple tool to learn and quick to set up.
Habitica is a habit tracker and to-do list I tried a few years ago. I was consistent with it for a long time before I fell out of routine.
But then I discovered it again in 2019 or 2020 and was consistent with it. After that, however, I only lasted about a year with it before I decided to find a different app.
Don’t get me wrong – Habititca is a lot of fun. It’s a great productivity app if you’re a gamer. You choose your avatar and a class (I was a Mage), and your character levels up every time you check something off your to-do list.
You could also find treasure, such as armor and eggs to hatch companion animals. But what’s the point of having armor and leveling up?
Well, you can also go on quests. Each quest has you fight some sort of boss and defeat it by keeping up with your daily tasks and habits and checking items off your list. If you skip a day or don’t complete all your daily goals, the boss will attack you in return.
It was fun for a while, and, as I mentioned before, I stuck with it for a few years. However, once my character grew to level 99 or something, there wasn’t much else for me to do unless I paid.
I’m sure the paid version of Habitica is worth it, but I didn’t feel up to paying for something to help me keep track of my tasks.
Best Productivity Apps That Work Best For Me
Now, let’s look at the productivity tools I’ve been using lately. These are programs that I’ve been using for the past couple of years and have helped me tremendously when it comes to my various projects.
Remember I said I didn’t want to pay for something to help me keep track of my tasks?
Well, I use Todoist now, and after about a year of being consistent with it, I decided to upgrade and pay for it.
This one works the best for me out of all the project management apps I’ve used in the past.
I have numerous projects listed, including my websites, my writing projects, the podcast, and miscellaneous tasks such as cleaning or gifts I need to buy for birthdays.
It’s a checklist program. You can create projects, and each project can have different sections or be one big checklist.
For example, I have a project for this website with multiple sections for content, my email list, social media, and more.
You can also assign deadlines, invite people to specific projects, and assign them tasks.
Honestly, I use the bare minimum with this program. I have my projects, break each into sections, and tack on whatever I need to do. Of course, tasks can have subtasks too.
It’s micromanaging at its finest.
Honestly, I don’t know why this app works so well for me, but I’ve been using it every day for over a year.
You can also set task goals. For example, I have a weekly plan of 30 tasks. With Saturdays and Sundays off, I need to complete at least five daily tasks to meet the weekly goal.
Does anything happen if you meet your goal? No. Just satisfaction. I don’t know why or how, but it’s been working well for me. It’s helped me juggle so many projects and keep up with them well.
I paid for it because I wanted to add more projects. The free version allows five projects, which is more than plenty since each project can have unlimited sections.
So, it’s worth trying it.
Google Docs And Google Sheets
I’m sure you all know and love Google Docs and Google Sheets. I have started using these for everything.
And I mean everything.
Microsoft has gotten slow for me over time, and I often saved it in six different spots so I could access it in various places. Plus, if one got deleted, I’d have a backup somewhere.
While it’s still good to have backups, I love Google Drive because I can access one document anywhere – through my phone, my iPad, other people’s computers, etc.
I sometimes write first drafts of blog posts in Google Docs. If I use the block editor on WordPress, going through Google Docs first is easier because I can see the word count easily. Plus, I can edit the post more easily.
Then, I simply copy and paste the doc and throw it into WordPress, where I add the images and everything else.
I use Google Sheets for content logs, where I make mini calendars and checklists for each month of the year.
One of the best things about it is that I can share these docs and sheets with others. For example, Ari and I have a few docs and sheets that we share for the podcast. Also, my sister and I have many shared docs and sheets for Double Jump.
And, unless you need more storage, it’s all free.
I had to throw in this honorable mention. Google Calendar is something else I use to keep track of my work.
Since it can sync up with other Gmail accounts, I have three calendars in one. I pencil in podcast recordings and meetings with guests, and I also set up recording and streaming dates with my sister for Double Jump.
Finally, I have my personal calendar with appointments, social events, and writing work.
The best part is that you can color code everything, so… that’s an automatic win for me.
I admit, when Trello was first created, I tried it and didn’t like it. But it wasn’t because it was “bad” or anything. Instead, I didn’t want to take the time to learn how to use it.
The thing is, it’s not even difficult. But I guess I wasn’t in the right mindset.
When Ari and I started The Merry Writer Podcast, she already had everything set up in Trello. So, that’s how I learned how to use the program.
Now? It’s one of my favorites, and I use it for everything.
It might sound redundant to use Trello and Todoist, but Todoist is a more straightforward layout. As a result, I can see what I need to do and plan further using Trello.
I also use Trello for many other things. For example, I have boards for each one of my novels and series. As a result, it’s easy for me to plan my novels, including a publishing timeline, budgeting, and more.
I can also keep track of what stage I’m in for each book if I am working on more than one project at a time.
Trello allows me to have multiple lists on one board, each with various cards. The cards can contain to-do lists, attachments, descriptions, and more. You can assign people tasks, set deadlines, and add colorful labels.
You can pay for Trello, but there is a free version that gives you a lot. For example, you can have up to ten boards, and each can hold a lot of information.
If you’re interested in using Trello, sign up using my referral link. Rather than signing up for a 14-day free trial of the premium version, you’ll get a month free.
Which Apps Do You Use?
Most of these apps have mobile versions for iPhone and Android as well. So, you can use them where ever and whenever you need to. May these apps help you on your journey, and you don’t get distracted planning to death. (Like I sometimes do!)
Rachel Poli is an indie author, podcaster, and content writer working on her debut cozy mystery novel.
Although she favors mystery, Rachel is a multi-genre author with too many ideas and characters in her head, often experimenting with short stories and flash fiction.
When she’s not writing, she’s reading, organizing something, or playing video games. She currently resides in New England with her zoo.