As the world copes with the reformed way of life brought by the COVID pandemic, more people have started to embrace the idea of remote work. It’s a new beginning in a sense as we radically change our work habits and environment.
If you think about it, the rise of remote work was only a matter of time—even in a developing country such as ours. In fact, the Telecommuting Act was enacted as a law back in December 2018. It enables employees to do their jobs in an alternative workplace with the use of a computer or similar technology. A new bill has been passed this year, which, when signed, will turn this optional arrangement into a mandatory setup provided that specific conditions are met.
With work from home (WFH) becoming the means of operation for the majority of businesses today, one topic has remained controversial: productivity.
The Productivity Conundrum: A Double-edged Sword
Working from home has been a generally positive trend, and for a lot of professionals, the flexibility it brings offers many rewards. But when it comes to productivity, there are as many people struggling to accomplish tasks efficiently as those who do in a WFH setup. Research shows that there is no universal approach in terms of working remotely, and the diversity of industries as well as the nature of work are significant factors in overall output. Add to that all the distractions you might face while working at home, and it would be easy to see why we find it more challenging than ever to stay on task and accomplish things faster.
One effective solution to all of this is to learn how to maximize available technology.
That’s why I rounded up a list of some of the best productivity apps I regularly use to help you become more organized, focused, and on track on your tasks. These apps help you manage your day to day activities and get things done efficiently.
This list covers everything from idea organization, time and task management, work collaboration, and online meetings, among other functionalities. Whatever kind of app you decide to download and use in the end, remember that using them regularly is essential to get the best results.
With online meetings happening every day, we need to be ready before going live. WorkFlowy is a web-based outliner created by Mike Turitzin and Jesse Patel at the 2010 Y Combinator startup camp. This app lets you organize your thoughts and agenda before attending the meeting. It lets you create a list—and a nested list within that main list—and so on.
What makes WorkFlowy stand out is its versatility. You can jot down thoughts, break down projects, input casual matters, and itemize tasks. It has a zoom-in function on sub-lists, which is helpful if you need to focus on a specific topic. You may also filter or tag items for extra organization and even mark them as complete. You can share a link to collaborate (a Pro version exclusive feature) with others and even assign a bullet to a particular person, so they can update all tasks assigned to them in real-time. Best of all, it’s easy to learn, and you can get the hang of it in five minutes.
You may use WorkFlowy as a web application on a desktop for macOS, PC, and Linux or on mobile on both iOS and Android. The cross-platform capability comes with solid integration giving you a smooth transition regardless of which device you want to use. There are 100 list items available on the free version, but you can refer or be referred by a friend who uses the app. You can get additional 250 items in case 100 is too few for your purposes. The Pro version gives you unlimited items and will set you back $50 a year (around Php2,400 as of current exchange). Although if you have a business team or department interested in using it, there’s a Pro version for teams offering a 20% discount.
I highly recommend this app to those who lead meetings and develop presentations regularly.
Trello employs a Kanban-style of list-making, but contrary to a lot of people’s notions, it’s not just an app for making lists—it’s a project management tool as well. The lists it uses—called ‘boards’—can contain attachments, checklists, and other details such as due dates.
A good case-use example is by having three boards: Pending, Ongoing, and Completed, each having a list of tasks. When you start a task, you can move it from Pending to Ongoing, and so on. You may also customize the name of the boards as needed. Now it makes more sense on how can be applied when managing projects.
Here are the 10 helpful features of Trello to maximize your experience:
Detailed & Quick Overviews of Front/Back Cards
Easy, Drag-and-Drop Editing
Easy Organization with Labeling, Tags, and Comments
Progress Meter Checklist
Card Records Archive
Easy file upload (Local Devices, Dropbox, Google Drive, and Box)
Deadline alerts and notifications with automated email notifications
Individual/Group Task Assignment
The free version is already great as it provides unlimited boards, cards, and lists, albeit with a 10mb file size attachment limit and one Power-up per board. The Business and Enterprise plans cost $9.99 (Php483) and $17.50 (Php847) per month per user, respectively. This app is perfect for multiple project management.
I can say that Zoom is a pandemic baby. The exponential growth of the app was due to the quarantine, brought by our natural desire to connect with family and relatives, friends, or workmates. Zoom provides videotelephony and online chat services, through a cloud-based peer-to-peer software platform and is used for teleconferencing, telecommuting, distance education, and social relations, among others.
With the Zoom mobile app on Android and iOS, you can start or join a meeting. By default, the Zoom mobile app displays the active speaker view. If one or more participants join the meeting, you will see a video thumbnail in the bottom-right corner, and you can view up to four participants’ videos at the same time. It also has email integration with Apple Mail, Outlook, or similar email programs via a plug-in. This allows you to set meetings using your email app and pick Zoom as your call medium.
Zoom leads the competition due to its call and video quality, as well as other special features like recording meetings. This is especially crucial for teams that work in different time zones, so everyone has the chance to get up to speed with what is happening in the department or company.
Some of the 10 most exciting features of Zoom Meetings include:
Easy adoption with WebRTC technology
Join from anywhere on any device
Built-in tools for screen sharing
HD video and audio calls
Virtual background and appearance touch-up
Meet securely with role-based user permissions
Streamlined calendaring services with Outlook and Google
Built-in recording and transcripts
Team chat both for groups and one-on-one messaging
Access to extra features like webinars, chat, and phone
The free version lets you hold meetings for as long as 45 minutes. Otherwise, you may subscribe for $14.99 per month per user for a monthly plan (Php725) or $12.49 per month per user for annual (Php600).
Meetings involve presentations most of the time. Because it’s done virtually today, showing visually appealing, informative decks have become more needed than ever. A skillful Keynote user can dish-out stunning, professional-looking presentations.
Keynote is user-friendly and easy to learn but takes time and patience to master. It has a non-cluttered interface and yet packed with features. You can start playing around with animations for your text and transitions then explore more advanced settings like image manipulation presets and timing markers. The theme and template repertoire of Keynote also gives you virtually unlimited choices when it comes to designing a deck. With a massive Apple and Mac user community globally, you can find something suited for your interest or purpose.
One other notable thing about it is that it is continuously updated. Keynote Version 10 was released a few months ago in March, which added a myriad of features like playing Vimeo or YouTube videos right in your presentation—isn’t this amazing?
I am sure a lot of you are already familiar with this app, so I just summarized the 10 best features that you might want to maximize from the last three versions of the update.
Keynote version 10.0 for Mac:
Select from a variety of gorgeous new themes to help you get started
Add a Keynote presentation to a shared iCloud Drive folder to automatically start collaborating, though this requires macOS 10.15.4
Edit shared presentations while offline with your changes to be instantly uploaded when you’re back online
Easily access your recently used themes in a redesigned theme chooser
Print or export a PDF of your presentation with comments included
Add a drop cap to make text stand out with a large, decorative first letter
Enhance your presentations with a variety of new, editable shapes.
New “Keyboard” text build in and build out animation
Keynote version 10.2 for mac:
Use the new “Play Slideshow in Window” option to have access to other applications while presenting locally or via video conferencing (this is important for Zoom users)
Movies can now play through slide transitions so you can add the same movie to multiple slides to play from one slide to the next.
Use the Align to Path option to have objects stay pointed in the correct direction while following a motion path.
Easily add captions and titles to images, videos, shapes, and other objects
Keynote version 10.3 for mac:
Use Play in Window for Recorded Slideshows
Movie export now supports a wide selection of formats and frame rates
Enhance your presentations with a variety of new, editable shapes
And of course, my favorite, Play YouTube and Vimeo videos right in your presentations
SignNow is one of the global leaders in electronic signature technology. The software-as-a-service platform enables individuals and businesses to sign and manage documents from any computer. With industry-leading features like advanced threat protection and link security, it keeps your documents as safe and secure as possible. In many cases, documents stored in SignNow are actually safer than those in computers, which are often the target of ransomware attacks.
Here are the top 10 features I love the most about the app:
Upload and send documents for eSignature
Add Fillable Fields (name, date, initials, etc.)
Customize Signing Order
Sign documents remotely
Received email notifications
Encryption and Security
Integrated with iOS and Android apps
Stamp your own branding
Link to your Dropbox for automatic filing of your complexly signed documents
Use pre-built document templates, perfect for forms.
Whether you’re working on media, medicine, finance, or whatever industry, SignNow can deliver a safe, reliable, and quick document signing process. Users with access to files may even be assigned roles (like editor or viewer). SignNow pricing starts at $8.00 per month per user (Php387), but there’s a free 30-day trial that allows you to try its complete functionality.
Preparing documents to be signed is one thing; creating great ones is another. This is where Grammarly comes in handy. You don’t have to be a professional writer to be able to take advantage of this app, as it may be used as a web app, browser extension, or add-on for programs like Microsoft Word, Google Docs, and native macOS and Windows apps. You can use it for documents, messages, and everything in between.
You can write emails and proofread it quickly at the same time using Grammarly. With much of today’s work communication done online, getting your message across accurately in an easy to understand manner always helps. Its purpose is not to replace your writing skills. It’s to help you polish and fine-tune it every time.
The free version grants all the core features such as grammar and spelling checkers, while Premium starts at $11.66 per month (Php565) for an annual subscription with a yearly charge.
Much like motivation, productivity ultimately comes from within yourself. That’s why finding more ways on how to improve it boils down to learning how to make the most of what’s available. In this day and age, when technology is right at our fingertips, picking out the crème de la crème can spell the difference between simply getting the job done and finishing it with quality, timeliness, and style. These apps are among the best in their niche, hence why they’re mainstays in my and many other people’s devices. If you haven’t yet, give them a try and let me know how it goes.
Helming several businesses on top of One Mega Group, Inc., Archie Carrasco's success in the industry is attributed to his agility to adapt to modern technology and innovation. His genuine interest and deep understanding of both software and hardware is something he takes pride in and he is able to apply these in his business plans and models.
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