The digital age has been both a curse and a blessing for busy-bee Americans, who have tried, with mixed results, to blend work, family, fun and recreation together on a daily basis.
With so many aspects of their lives overlapping, and the clock ticking until the next task needs to be completed, productivity (or lack of it) becomes a paramount issue for time-tested individuals and family.
That's where technology can help, in the form of smartphone productivity apps. As Americans increasingly turn to their smartphones to handle their scheduling, their technology tool management, organize their meals and errands, and generally run their lives, a good mobile productivity app can curb the stress of everyday life in the digital age.
The question for smartphone consumers in the market for a good productivity app is a simple one - which combination of productivity apps work best for your unique needs? The truth is, there may not be a single app that handles everything a busy individual desires, but there is a wide selection of quality apps that can, in total, streamline the productivity process, in work, at home, and in everyday life.
12 Best Productivity Apps
So let's get going. These are the smartphone task management and time-tracking productivity apps that make the cut, and deserve a look from over-burdened U.S. individuals and families:
For a no-muss and no-fuss scheduling solution, look no further than Blink. The app, which costs 99 cents, can list daily, weekly and monthly tasks in a single scheduling platform. You can use Blink to schedule reminders, establish priorities and set up calendar notifications, all on one easy-to-use platform. Blink bills itself as an "insanely simple" productivity app, and after one session using it, it's easy to see why.
For daily scheduling needs, Things might be the way to go for over-scheduled Americans. This mobile app, which costs $9.99, splits your daily tasks into three separate categories - Today, This Evening, and Tomorrow. With Things, you can sync your daily schedule from the app with your laptop, desktop, or tablet computer. On the app's screen, you can see what tasks need to be done today, what events and obligations you have (on the "Upcoming" screen), and specific tasks that pop up as time grows near, like "buy balloons for Dad's birthday party." If you live your life in 24-hour verticals, Things can make your daily schedule much easier to handle.
3. Microsoft Suite: Word, Excel and PowerPoint
Microsoft (MSFT - Get Report) was recently named the world's most valuable company, inching ahead of Apple. (AAPL - Get Report) That's not exactly a surprise, as millions of computer users still rely on MS Word, Excel & PowerPoint to power their personal and workplace productivity. If you're in that group, this app really is for you. The Microsoft App is specifically designed to synch perfectly with the company flagship software product lines, and applying all three to a smart phone's small screen model. With it, you can edit documents on MS Word, crunch numbers on Excel, and tweak presentation data on PowerPoint - all on your smartphone. The app's cloud computing feature makes it easy to share documents, using high-profile services like Drive and Dropbox. The app is free for the basic tier, but you'll get more if you sign up for the Office 365 subscription.
4. Google Keep
This Google (GOOGL - Get Report) productivity app is billed as a de facto Post-It Note for your mobile phone. The app, which is free of charge, can create quick "to do" lists, generate reminders, create voice memo's, and categorize your digital notes by color, label or by name. Google Keep is ideal for people on the go who need to jot down a quick note; like a recipe for nacho dip or the paperwork you need to bring to your financial advisor tomorrow. It's simple, fast, and like most Google products, efficient and effective.
This Mac-only app categorizes and organizes your passwords all in one place. It recalls and saves all of your digital passwords, and enables you to access all of your accounts in a single platform. The app, which costs $2.99 per month, not only secures your passwords safely (you won't have to list your passwords in your smartphones "notes" section anymore), it also safely brings up passwords you may have forgotten, like for that utility bill or your son's college parent portal, at the click of a keystroke.
This Android and iOS app turns a nice magic trick, transitioning your smart phone's camera into a portable scanner. That's a big deal if you're a career professional who's constantly on the road (think salesperson or conference organizer) who regularly needs to turn photos and contracts (and other paperwork stored on a computer) into JPG and PDF files. Users can both scan and crop images and files on the fly, and in high-resolution, too. If you need to send critical documents and files to customers, staffers, and business partners on the road, CamScanner, at $1.99 to install, is the way to go.
If you're a small business owner, or someone who works multiple jobs as a freelancer and side-hustle gig professional, keeping tabs on your schedules and your hours is a high priority. That's where Hours can help. At $7.99 a month for a premium subscription, this app can keep track of your work schedule, shifts and meetings automatically, and send you notifications and reminders so you can get to your job on time, and every time. Freelancers can use the app to manage projects and tasks from multiple clients (a fact of life for self-employed professionals) and monitor the progress of a client project in real time.
If you run a Facebook, (FB - Get Report) LinkedIn, Instagram, or Twitter (TWTR - Get Report) group, and have trouble managing and scheduling your time and scheduling posts, take a closer look at Buffer, which is free on Android and iOS. The app allows not only to schedule posts, it also provides content creation tools, link management, and enables you to handle three social media accounts simultaneously. The app is free for a basic plan, but for heavy social media users, Buffer offers a $15-a-month option with all the bells and whistles.
9. Newton Mail
Mobile email management is high on the list of critical "to do" lists for busy Americans. After all, email remains one of the most widely-used digital communication tools in cyberspace. This app, which supports all sorts of email platforms, including Gmail, iCloud, and Exchange, enables users to schedule emails, snooze email senders, and enable two-factor authentication. Newton also allows you to check receipts to see who read your email and when they read it, and filters out unwanted spam email so you never have to see it. The annual price seems high, at $49.99 annually (or $5 a month), but if you value your email usage on the go, Newton makes great sense.
If you use multiple smartphone calendars, it makes good sense to round them all up and pop them into one place. That's the promise of 24me, a calendar scheduling app that bundles all of your calendars, for family, work, and personal activities onto one app. Part personal assistant and part scheduling manager, 24me can make your life a lot easier by having all of your digital calendars in one place. The app is free with in-app purchases.
This mobile phone app takes the password storage idea and ups the ante, adding financial account management, for things like credit and debit cards, along with all of your contact phone numbers and addresses, too. Having your passwords organized is a good idea - adding a safety feature that securely stores and organizes your financial account information is what really makes Dashlane unique. The app is free with in-app purchases.
12. Google Drive
All hail Google - king of the productivity app! Hyperbole? Maybe - but there's no doubt that Google has a good grip on how mobile phone users can better organize their lives. Google Drive is a good example, compiling all of your key documents, files, images, and other digital assets into one app platform, all available to mobile users at a moment's notice, and at the flick of a fingertip. If you're already a Google Suite or Google Stream user, Google Drive can make managing your life much easier, acting as the primary organization digital folder on your smart device. Prices range from free to $9.99.