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My list of top productivity apps

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In my recent interactions with our regional sales teams in India, I have been amazed by how actively our teams are using WhatsApp to constantly stay in touch and share information. Today, apps such as Facebook and WhatsApp have become such an integral part of how we connect with our friends, family members and colleagues.

So, I have listed below my top 10 “productivity enhancer” apps. I use most of these regularly and there are a couple on the list that I have heard about and intend to try. Most of these apps are free (though some of them will nudge you to pay a little for the premium version with enhanced features) and work on both iOS and Android platforms.

  1. Trello
    Trello is a great online tool for managing projects and personal tasks. Unlike a typical task list, which tends to be just lines of text with little check-boxes next to them, Trello introduces a sense of the physical to make it feel more real. Trello is inspired by the Kanban method. Kanban, which means signboard in Japanese, is a way to visualise a work flow. You can note your tasks down on ‘cards’ and place them in the appropriate column. When you start a task, you need to pull it from the one column and place it in the demarcated ‘in progress’ column. When you complete the task, you can move it into the ‘done’ column. You can set up several categories, add as many cards as you want to each, create to-do lists, add diagrams or videos and set due dates for each task.
  2. Evernote
    I have used this app occasionally but have not been disciplined enough to use consistently. In short, Evernote is a note taking app that has a very devoted following. It has a text editor, photo upload tool and voice recording device, and you can use any of these features either separately or in combination, to upload content to your account. Your notes therefore don’t need to be in traditional text format – you can add in videos and images too that you find interesting. This app also has excellent features for organising, locating and editing your notes. Evernote saves and synchs your notes on the cloud and across all your devices, so you can access them from your computer, phone, tablet, or really anywhere with an internet connection.
  3. Dropbox
    Dropbox is a must-have. It is a really easy-to-use, one-stop for storing all your data – documents, photos, videos, pretty much anything. The app will synch all your data  across all your devices, so that you can add and edit data from any of them. The great part is that you can share data from this selectively with different people. You can change the settings for each item, so you always control what gets shared and what remains private. You can also work with your team members on a shared space here, which will make you feel like you are all accessing a single computer.
  4. Harvard Business Review (HBR)
    The HBR app is a great place to stay up to date on all the latest management talk. It offers you access to an exhaustive repository of information from across HBR’s digital and print offerings. There are articles, blogs, audio, video here and more. Many of the world’s best business thinkers blog regularly here and you will always find excellent reading material from across topics to choose from.
  5. Zite
    Zite offers you auto-curated, personalised reading suggestions. Given the sometimes overwhelming amount of data available on the internet, this is a very effective way to get streamlined content, meant just for you. Zite pulls together suggestions for you based on what the hot favourite topics in your social networks are, and articles that you have read previously. The layout is simple – it combines images and text, much like a newspaper or magazine. There are also sharing options that let you post to Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and other such platforms. Another similar app that I have heard great reviews of, is FlipBoard.
  6. Pocket
    Often, you come across a great article on the internet, but don’t have the time to read it right there and then. Pocket is a great read-it-later app. You can put away long articles or even videos and queue them for reading or watching later, even when you don’t have an internet connection. This is a great bookmarking app and synchs data across all your devices. It is particularly handy for long journeys. Other apps that offer similar functionality are Readability and Instapaper, but I personally prefer Pocket.
  7. Moves 
    We all have great intentions to stay in shape. And it will soon be time for new year resolutions. I find it quite remarkable how sometimes, an app can be that extra nudge that keeps us going. Whether you are running, jogging or walking, Moves is a great way to track and record the number of steps you are taking, calories burned and patterns, among other details. For those of you who are more adventurous, you could try out Run-Tastic, which tracks and records your workout. It has GPS capabilities built in, so not only will it tell you how far you have gone, but also provide a detailed map and time. Run Keeper and Cardio Trainer are some other options.
  8. Skype 
    If you don’t already have a Skype account, I strongly recommend that you create one right away. What Skype basically allows you to do, is connect with other Skype users, anywhere and at any time. You can make free video and voice calls and all you really need is a good internet connection. The paid version allows you to make calls to non-Skype users. I find it very useful to use while I am traveling or even to catch up with colleagues from different countries. It makes interactions much more personal and with how we are growing and becoming more global, this could be very helpful to stay connected. Other useful features on Skype include instant messaging, file sharing and conference calling. For those of you who use Apple devices, you can always use FaceTime.
  9. LinkedIn
    Most of us are on LinkedIn. If you are not, you should be on it. And if you are on it, you should get more active. It is a great way to network with colleagues, follow conversations across industries and share your perspectives. Also, we are in the process of building our LinkedIn presence as a corporate brand. It is really important that as the senior leadership team, you champion our presence in the digital space and contribute on platforms like LinkedIn.
  10. WorldMate
    WorldMate is a great one-stop for all your itinerary details when you are traveling. It stores all the information you need to plan and organise your trip, in an easy-to-use format. All you need to do to get started, is forward all your confirmation booking emails to WorldMate. You will have access real-time flight updates, maps and navigation, currency converters, be able to share trip details, check in, and use many other features. It will prompt suggestions based on your preferences and previous trips. You will even have access to the best hotel rates and offers. One of the highlights of this app, is that it will tell you when you are crossing paths with someone from your LinkedIn contact lists, so that you can reach out to them and maybe plan to catch up. I definitely intend to start using this.

So, go ahead. Make it a point this week to download a couple of these apps that sound interesting to you and give them a try. Also, I am sure that many of you will have your own favourite apps that are not on this list. It would great if you could share those with the rest of us.

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Vivek • November 19, 2014


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