If you’re in a productivity rut, but don’t want to shell out $9.99 to get back on track, there’s plenty of technology to help you regain control of your workday — without all the bells and whistles.
From blocking time-wasting sites like BuzzFeed to ensuring you never forget an item on your to-do list, here are eight apps that streamline your life.
When my task list of choice began to charge for use, I switched over to Gmail’s task list. It’s as low tech as they come: Just a small list with checked boxes in the lower corner of my Gmail inbox. I love having my to-do list hanging out in my inbox — I can easily add items as they come in, or refer to them when prioritizing my day. It also syncs up nicely with the Google Calendar I use.
If you’re a Mac user having trouble staying focused, you should try blocking your access to time wasters like gossip blogs and social media. Self Control does exactly that — you just choose which sites to block and how much time you want to stay away. Here’s the kicker: Self Control will absolutely not allow you to override the block, even if you restart your computer. That’s some commitment.
Find it: iOS
Cold Turkey accomplishes the same thing as Self Control, but this app is exclusively for Windows.
Find it: Windows
I find that listening to music — frequently the same song on repeat — is exactly what I need to kick into productivity mode. But if tunes distract you, you can block out office chatter with this sound machine-esque app. Choose between white noise and ambient sounds.
Everyone in the world is obsessed with Evernote, and for good reason. Evernote provides one work space where you can keep lists, longer writings, articles from around the Internet, photos, even handwritten notes. It’s more than just a note-taking app — you can search your notes and organize, and since it’s cloud-based, you can access your information from any device.
Remember the Milk
Remember the Milk seems pretty simple: A task list that you can check off as you go. This task manager has seemingly endless options so you can input reminders from Gmail, Google Calendar, Evernote, Siri, or Twitter, so you can manage your tasks within your existing favorite app.
If you’re a fan of the Pomodoro technique (a time-management system that divides working time into intervals with breaks), this is one of the simplest timers you’ll find. It keeps you on the standard Pomodoro timing: 25 minutes of work with a five-minute break, the idea being that short breaks increase mental agility.
Find it: Chrome extension
EasilyDo organizes almost every task you can imagine, culling information and task reminders from email, social media, and even weather alerts. In one app, you can see options to wish someone a happy birthday on Facebook, check your flight status, get directions, and set up notifications for every imaginable life event. Never forget a task ever again.