January is almost over and if you are still having trouble boosting your productivity, help is at hand.
There are plenty of apps that can help you stay focused on your goals for 2022 and here’s our selection that goes beyond calendar and to-do apps.
Though every native clock app comes with an alarm function, it’s all too easy to snooze the alarm while you continue snoozing in bed.
The Kiwake app takes it up a notch with stringent measures that ensure users are awake before it lets them turn off the alarm.
“Kiwake will drive you out of bed whether you want it or not! Like any good coach, it will give you a hard time if you don’t follow the rules, but also encourage you when you actually do.
“The more you stick to your routine, the less annoying it becomes,” the developer posted on the app page.
To switch off the alarm, users have to complete three tasks: take a photo of an object away from the bed to prove they’ve gotten up, complete a mini-game puzzle to wake the brain, and read a motivational message users wrote for themselves.
The developers warn that there is no snooze button though there is a cooldown timer which pauses the alarm for up to three minutes. After that, the alarm will ring until the wakeup tasks are completed.
The app is available for free but a subscription – US$1.99 (RM8.30) monthly or $14.99 (RM62.50) annually – is required to access premium options.
Smartphone addiction has become a hot topic in the last few years, compelling even operating system makers Google and Apple to introduce features that track usage to encourage users to log off.
Ironically, the Forest app for smartphones also attempts to drive users away from the very device it is installed on.
Forest encourages users to stay focused on their tasks instead of their phones by making them plant a virtual tree on the app. The app must be left open for the tree to grow, as closing it halfway will cause the tree to wither and die.
Users can set a timer between 10 to 120 minutes, during which they aren’t allowed to use other functions of their phones.
“The sense of achievement while seeing a flourishing forest with each tree representing your dedication motivates you to reduce procrastination, and helps you build a good habit of time management!” said the developer on the app page.
If a virtual tree isn’t enough motivation, the app also awards coins which can be spent to get the developer to plant a real tree.
Forest has partnered with environmental non-government organisation Trees for the Future to fund tree planting activities.
According to Trees for the Future’s website, Forest’s contributions have helped grow over 2,086,000 trees.
The app is free on Android (pro version costs RM17.99) and goes for US$3.99 (RM16.70) on iOS. It also includes in-app purchases for different types of virtual trees and ambient sounds.
A more traditional way to be productive using gadgets is by creating to-do lists. The aptly named Todoist excels in this area.
It provides a clean interface for easier organisation of tasks and boasts natural language processing (NLP) to contextualise what the user types.
NLP is a type of artificial intelligence (AI) that enables computers to understand “natural language”, the style of communication a person uses when writing or talking to another person, as opposed to a programming language that uses strings of codes that only a computer understands.
For instance, users can set repeated reminders by typing “every Monday” or “every weekend” or assign it to a larger project by using hashtags like “#housecleaning” or “#officework”.
Users can also delegate tasks to others, set priority levels for tasks, and review their activity history to measure productivity and progress for larger projects.
The app boasts cross platform synchronisation – it works on Windows, MacOS, iOS, and Android, as well as on Chrome, Safari and Firefox browsers – which is handy for managing tasks on different devices. It has three tiers: free, pro (US$3 or RM12.57 monthly) and business (US$5 or RM20.95 monthly per user).
Spark’s main selling point is simple – it helps users deal with the most dull but necessary aspect of work: handling emails.
It works by unifying different email services into a single Inbox that is managed by an AI which will prioritise the messages that matter. It also helps you focus on other tasks by “reducing noise” and only notifying you about essential emails. A snooze option is also available so that you don’t forget to respond to the messages at a later point.
Like Todoist, it uses NLP to make searching for emails more efficient without having to resort to search operators.
The app is available for free with a premium subscription (US$6.39 or RM26.75 monthly) that offers more features, especially for working on email messages as a team.