7 productivity apps for you to base your life around

21 Mar 2016

Your phone is chock-full of things designed to distract you from the monotony of the day, but here are seven apps that will actually make you a much more efficient human both in work and play.

Productivity apps on phones are much more than just a simple reminder or calendar these days, spanning everything from messaging tools to document scanning in a way that those marketing mobile phones in the 1990s could have only dreamed of.

Despite offering their services for free, in many cases, to the average consumer, the largest of the companies behind productivity are tapping into running their services in major companies, which has seen the likes of Slack valued at one point in the billions of dollars range.

If you’re reading this on a Monday morning and are struggling to get your head around organising yourself for your 3pm   meeting or just dinner with a friend, then you might want to check out these seven humdingers.


With offices around the world and in Ireland, too, Slack has found its way into just about every office thanks to the simplicity of the messaging tool, which allows teams of people to collaborate on projects.

The fact it is well-designed and easy to use for anyone familiar with any group messaging service is one of its benefits, but it also allows you to create smaller sub-set groups for projects.

It’s also rather customisable, including some neat little shortcuts that you can enter into a chat box, which Slack’s programming will turn it into an automatic reminder to perform a task at a specific time.

Not bad for a service that came from a side-project for a gaming company designed to make it easier for them to work on a now-defunct project, eh?

It’s free and available on iOS, Android and Windows Phone.


Trello has been a revelation since it first entered the Silconrepublic.com office as a means of tracking daily tasks or keeping track of what’s happening in the coming weeks and months using a series of lists.

The project management tool makes it easy to keep track of who is doing what within a project or ‘board’, using cards that can contain anything from text to images for someone to access.

Basically, it takes the concept of a cork board then applies it to a digital world, with some additional colour-coding options and notifications for projects or deadlines coming up.

It’s free and available on iOS, Android and Kindle Fire.


In a similar way to Trello, Evernote is the digitisation of sticky notes on a board for someone to make note of and access again whenever that person wants to.

The difference with Evernote, however, is that it’s more of a personal organiser of thoughts and links rather than a shared collaborative effort, although it can be that if you want to put it on the cloud, which can cost a bit extra depending on how much you upload.

If you’ve thought of a recipe or something that could be really useful to your job, you can store it there for accessing later, but through almost as many subdivisions as you can think of if you have a specific future task in mind.

It’s also good for recording audio and video if you want to make a really detailed note for yourself.


Have you ever needed to send a document to someone by email and end up sending over a low-resolution image of it that the other person is unable to read?

Well, there’s an app out there which – from personal experience – has made the whole process a lot easier.

Produced by the same guys as Evernote, Scannable accesses your camera, but when a photo of a document is taken, runs its own software through the image to sharpen it up to the point that it looks exactly like a document you would have scanned in a scanner.

Once you’ve run the scanner over the document, you can then look at the image it’s taken and edit it with a cropping tool.

It’s also pretty handy for being on a business trip and digitising any business cards that come you way.

It’s then just a matter of sending it to whoever you want via email.

Focus booster

Those who’ve set themselves out to perform a heavy-duty task for a few hours might be familiar with the Pomodoro Technique, which breaks your workload into a series of 25-minute work sessions followed by breaks.

The technique is credited with making any process much more efficient, but if you don’t want to just use a kitchen timer, you could use the app Focus Booster.

If you want your work bursts to be longer or shorter, you can edit what time you want, as well as turn off notifications to get rid of any possible distractions on the phone.

There’s a free trial version for people to use, after that the monthly cost is $2.99.


While greater security of our online accounts is more necessary than ever at a time when everything from banking services to dating websites are being hacked, the complexity of our precautions can be difficult to keep up with.

Most obvious is the fact that you are advised to never use the same password for everything, which leads to the ‘forgot password’ button getting used more often than you’d like.

That’s why services like 1Password were invented, to make accessing your dozens of accounts much safer and easier.

The app will take all of your various passwords and lock them behind one system that itself is accessed using, you guessed it, one password.

If you come across a new site asking for a new password, then 1Password will generate a new password and save it with the rest.

It’s quite highly-rated and is on both iOS and Android, as well as OS X and Windows on your desktop.


It’s fair to say that some of us out there aren’t the best when it comes to mental arithmetic.

Whether that’s due to laziness or because it leads to horrifying flashbacks of your days in school is anyone’s guess, but the Photomath app has taken the hard work out of calculating how to split a bill by pointing your camera at it.

It’s also good for churning out some of the maths problems that you would likely see in a maths textbook, but rather than just give you answer for you to jot down, will explain it to you so you can see how its algorithm got there step-by-step.

The free app is available on both iOS and Android.

Stressed office worker image via Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic