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How Do You Find Your Perfect Productivity App? A Beginner's Guide

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Using a productivity app can be one of the most personal experiences in your day.

Finding a resource that you’ll use to conquer to-dos, start new projects, and manage your time is a beautiful thing. But first of all, you’ll need to decipher the complicated recipe of what productivity app suits you and your style best.

In the pursuit of hunting for that ideal resource for you, there are a host of variables standing in your way. The reason why productivity apps are so personal is that no one app will fit your needs and usage, so finding one that matches you is like finding a long-lost soulmate.

After spending thousands of hours deep in the App Store, and reviewing hundreds of productivity apps on YouTube, I’ve compiled a three-step process to use when searching for those game-changing productivity apps.

Searching For Your Productivity Soulmate

125% growth.

Yes, that’s the last recorded growth of the productivity category on the App Store, back in 2015, showcasing the meteoric rise of this fast-evolving market.

Looking at the sheer magnitude of apps available, one thing’s for sure—there’s no lack of choice. However, it does make things a little foggier when hunting for that gem that will fit your workflow and process.

There’s no trick here. The goal is to find a resource that suits your needs best. The first stage of the process is to make sure you understand your situation and what help you need most from a productivity app.

Spending time on clarifying what you need, what suits you, and how to use a digital tool to its maximum ability can save you huge amounts of time and money.

Let’s kick things off with your needs.

First: Narrow Your Search

Grab a beverage of choice, settle in a nice chair, and clear out some time to review your needs when it comes to better organizing your tasks, managing your projects, or just feeling less pressure in your schedule.

What you come up with will give a strong indication as to what productivity apps will suit you best. Here’s a checklist to get started:

  • What job or role will this fulfill?
  • Will I use it with others?
  • What features do I need? (Such as time tracking or collaboration with others)
  • Do I need integrations with other apps?
  • Can any parts of the workflow be automated?
  • What is the ideal outcome?  

Building an overall picture of your needs will help you to map them to the app’s features.  

Second: Assess App Attributes

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Productivity apps can come in many shapes and sizes.

The best ones are flexible, easy to use and can scale to your efforts and help match to your needs, as highlighted above. There are also some more universal features that can make it a lot easier to stick with an app for the long-term.

  • Cross-platform

Availability on all the devices you use most is one of the most valuable things that an app can provide. Universal availability gives you the flexibility to move devices and platforms with ease while still sticking with your preferred workflow.

Say that, whether for work or personal reasons, you switch from Apple to Android or Windows, you want to know that your to-do list application is coming with you. Before getting started, make sure the resource has a mobile and web/desktop version at the minimum.

  • Consistency  

Providing a fluid and fluent service is important.

With a productivity app, this is vital to your day-to-day activities. Finding a resource that is well-funded, server strong (meaning it just works) and provides fast support all play a key role in how you adapt to the application. If an application provides a consistent experience and strong offline functionality, you are onto a winner!

It’s very helpful to know if an app has a good user reputation, so spend some time on Twitter or forums exploring people’s true opinions of the technology and the company behind it.

  • Wide range of views

A selection of layouts or views provide a user with the ability to be flexible to how they view their tasks and data by simply taking a different approach to organizing their tasks, notes, or calendar events.

One of the best examples of views is actually inside of Trello, which brings the option to view your items as a board layout helping you to visualize your tasks and projects.

Another app that does this well is Calendars 5 on iOS. This time management tool allows you to see your calendar setup through multiple layouts, providing the optionality, at any time, to change up the way the data is presented.

  • Features

Unique features play a strong part in the selection of a productivity app.

Many apps stand out by providing a specialized feature to help you get things done. If that is the case, make sure to map your needs alongside the features carefully.

For example, if you are in need of a time tracking tool with a special PDF reporting function, then you’ll need to be very selective about the resources you are looking at. Unique features are sometimes elements that will sway you from one app to another, but they should be vital for getting things done.

All in all, these app attributes will provide you with an overall checklist of what to be wary of when installing new resources and tools.

Finally: Look For Longevity

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A successful productivity app is one that you stay with for a long time.

Overall, it’ll meet the needs of your day to day activities, provide you with ongoing value, and introduce new and improved ways for you to work over time.

Meeting all of your needs might not be possible. Sometimes you’ll need to compromise on areas like design, structure, and features of other competitive apps. Sometimes you’ll need to move over to another app to meet all of those needs you may have overlooked, but there are some golden rules to follow for how to avoid getting too deep into the wrong fit.

  • Use the full free trial

Often people tend to commit to the premium version of a productivity app before experiencing the full free trial. Whether it is 14 days free or 30 days free, it’s vital to take advantage of that short period of time to really work out whether the resource is for you.

Use the free trial time to get to know the application and give it a probationary period to understand whether you’d like to settle there.

  • Don’t jump ship regularly  

Chatting with subscribers on a regular basis, I see first-hand just how many people jump to other applications when things don’t work, even after three or four days of using the tool.

Then a week later, they are using another app alongside it that provides the same features in an effort to continually evolve their productivity. Remember to try and keep stable with your selection of apps used.

The Amazing Productivity App Race

Going over these three core steps each time you go to install a new productivity app will not only save you time and effort but it’ll help to build a better understanding of which apps and resources you truly need in your life. You’ll minimize, fine-tune, and fuel your passion to improve your workflow.

If you’d like to tune into my weekly advice and tips about finding productivity apps, hit me up on YouTube where I take a look at hundreds of tools each year.

Let us know how you get on with your search in the comments below, if you’ve had any success stories, tips or advice that we’ve missed here, let us know below!

Next: The 15 Best Productivity Apps To Get You Through Your Day

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