20 Best Productivity Apps and Programs

By Will Chou

December 15, 2016   •   Fact checked by Dumb Little Man


So you want to level up your earning potential, move towards work that’s more fulfilling, and do more with less effort. That’s awesome.

Over the years, I have kept up to date with all the productivity apps and some have stood the test of time and actually produced results. However, more and more new apps pop up every day.

It’s my duty to sift through the noise for your to find out which ones are actually worth your time. Is it the simplistic one? Or is it the complicated and hard to use one? Is it the free version? Or the paid version?

So let’s begin. Here is the master guide to productivity with the best twenty productivity apps I have come across:

1. Momentum App


This browser extension is a life saver. A lot of successful people emphasize the power of focusing on one task. This app greets you and asks you what your main focus is. Each time you open up a new tab, the app pops up and reminds you to stay on track. It replaces the browser tab that is there by default that usually tempts you to go to unproductive websites.

2. Harvest App


This browser extension measures your time. Being successful means being brutally honest with how you spend your time. You can set a timer for each activity you do and label what you are doing. At the end of the day, you can check how long you spend on each activity and adjust from there. What’s great about this is that it syncs in with other productivity apps like Asana.

3. Forest App


This is an extension that uses the power of the Pomodoro Technique and gamification. When you start the timer, it will grow a tree from a seed. Your goal is to focus on one task for 25 minutes until the tree is fully grown. It makes productivity more fun. It’s customizable so that you can change the 25 minutes to whatever you want.

I recommend the free version because the paid version is unnecessary. It just gives you more pretty trees to choose from and lets you use this on your phone.

4. Site Block

This extension does what it sounds like. It blocks the websites you do not want to visit. One day, I tried logging how much time I wasted on social media websites. I thought it was nothing. It felt like five or ten minutes here and there. But it turned out to be a huge chunk of my day. These websites psychologically suck you in so that one quick video turns into ten. This site blocker has been so helpful.

It also tells you how many times you visited that site while it’s blocked. This has opened my eyes to how often websites like Facebook and Youtube are almost a reflex to me when I get bored.

A lot of people say they will not use this because they are scared to see how much time they waste. So they sit there in ignorance and continue to waste massive amounts of time. I suggest using the Nibble technique to get over this qualm. You do not have to get rid of hours of wasted time at once. But what about starting at just one less minute?

5. Time Tracker

This extension does what it says as well: it tracks your time. What’s great about this one is that it logs every different website you go to. You can check it out in detail to see where you spend your time. You will be surprised sometimes how much a certain website sucks your time and adjust.

6. Timestats


Similar to Time Tracker, but with a twist. It graphs out your time into a pie chart. It’s very accurate and the interface is a lot cleaner. One problem it has though is how it bunches all the activities under 1% under a single category.

7. Ad Blocker Plus


Do you know there are free extensions that block all ads that play on a website or video? This has been available for so many years and yet I am still amazed how many people still do not know about it.

This has probably saved me years of my life. I still cannot believe it exists.

8. Pomodoro Timer


One of the most well-known productivity techniques is the Pomodoro Technique. Basically, you focus on just one task for 25 minutes and then take a forced 5-minute break. This extension is just like the Forest App but there is no animated tree involved (just a timer).

9. Evernote


No productivity list is complete without Evernote. But what is it?

It basically lets you write and store documents, sketches, memos, pictures, and more online through the cloud. You can access it on your phone or on a computer. I like to use Evernote for storing important work-related documents, notes, or pictures. Usually, these are long-form material and what’s great about it is that I can pull it up on my phone or any computer and continue to add to it.

See Also: 8 Top Productivity Apps for Your Smartphone Can Help Make Your Life Easier, More Productive and More Organized

10. Google Keep


This is a new one I just found, yet so useful. It’s available and accessible on your phone or your computer as long as you have a Google account. It’s a great way to store quick notes or voice memos. I jump to this every time I have a quick idea for an article, song, or video. This has helped me save so many ideas I would have forgotten about.

What’s great about it is that it’s stored online so if you lose your phone or computer, it’s safe. It’s also accessible anywhere with Internet access. And the best part is that you can color the notes, share them, and they organize themselves in a pretty manner.

It’s intentionally made to be a very simple platform with few options. Therefore, you cannot format your text in any way.

11. Buffer


For me, I have always had a huge dislike for any “social media automation” tools. Like many “productivity apps”, they end up being more of a waste of your time and a drain on your cash. But one exception is Buffer.

What makes it so awesome? It’s simple and easy to use. There are not so many choices that it gets confusing. It does what you need. You can schedule out a queue of posts and randomize the order if you want.

12. Slack


I hope you have heard of Slack. Because everyone (at least in the tech, personal development, and business world) has. It’s evolved into a replacement for email between people who want to talk to each other in a company.

The problem is that email gets really messy when the conversation starts getting long. You have to dig through tons of nested emails to find what you need. Plus, sending documents, attaching files, or communicating with a group of people makes it worse.

Slack solves this by being something in between email and instant message. Messages and files sent to a group of people or a single person are neatly organized and clear as day.

On top of that, there are customizations you can add to make it your own. You can have it alert your phone with the app or pull up a GIF if you’re feeling funny.

13. Pocket


This app has been all the rage in the last year. It’s known as the app to brain dump the articles you want to read later and have them read out loud by a computer if you are extra busy.

It’s very simple. When you find an article worth reading. You hit the button and it saves it for offline use. When you are free, you can return to an article on your list on your phone or computer.

It is available as a browser extension, an app for Mac, for iOS, Android, Kindle Fire, WebOS and more.

14. Do Nothing For 2 Minutes


This website is crazy simple. Want to destress after a tough moment? Go to the website and listen to free music of natural waves. If you move your mouse even slightly, it resets and tells you to try again.

Everyone needs a quick break once in a while to recharge.

15. Basecamp


The rival to Slack is Basecamp. And while Slack can be used for free without having to upgrade to a paid plan, it’s harder to use Basecamp without signing up for a monthly subscription.

It is web-based, but you can also check how you are doing with their mobile-app. It gives you a clear and easy to understand dashboard when you log in. You can add discussions, to-do lists, documents, and more. Of course, you can collaborate and talk to coworkers while using this as well.

16. Instapaper


The Internet is filled with interesting, crazy and new information (and sometimes so much we cannot handle it all). Driven by curiosity and personal development, you can spend a lot of time at work reading trivial articles. If you want to fix this, Instapaper is worth looking at.

With one click, you can save it to be read later. It also suggests topics and articles through what you have saved already.

17. Writeroom


Available for the MacOS, Writeroom creates a completely distraction-free setting for you to do your best writing. For Windows users, try a similar app called Zen Writer.

18. Remember the Milk

With a name as interesting as that, you just have to read on.

This is a popular productivity app that puts your tasks in a to-do checklist. It has its following of diehard fans. It lets you share your tasks with friends and leverages the power of checklist.

The book The Checklist Manifesto really explains why checklists are so useful. Check it out for further reading, but essentially, it walks through top achievers like surgeons and architects who made crucial mistakes by not using a checklist.

19. 1Password


Don’t you want to pull your hair out when you forget a password? And don’t you want to kick yourself when you use up all your attempts and have to wait twenty minutes?

The worst part is that you cannot have a universal password because that’s how all your accounts get hacked. So how do you save all that wasted time?

You have a secure app and extension that stores all your passwords and remembers which one it is for which site. I have tried a lot of apps and extensions like this and all of them had their problems. Some of them required you to have a really long master password that you would always forget. Others would require really clunky photo and thumbprint verification on your phone to get in. This one is moving in the right direction though so try it out.

20. Sleepyti.me

Have you ever wondered if you are being less productive than you could be because you don’t know much about the science of sleep or sleep cycles? If not, it’s true.

This site solves this problem for you by letting you know when you should sleep and wake up based on your personalized sleep cycles. If you don’t like this one, there are plenty of other tools and apps that do similar tasks. Sleep is a crucial but often overlooked part of everyone’s life. Having the right amount can literally double your productivity.

See Also: 4 Free Business Productivity Apps To Help You Grow Your Small Business


There is some truth to the idea that “productivity apps actually make you less productive.” There are a ton of apps and extensions that waste you more time and money trying to set them up, learn how to use them, navigate through it. But some productivity apps can help.

In this world of information overwhelm, it’s important to wade through the garbage to find the few apps that actually use technology to help us. Do not get overwhelmed by this list. Instead, pick out the one or two that you would find the most use in.

Now, I have a question for you. What’s your biggest issue with productivity and what’s your dream situation? Be as specific and detailed as possible. I’d love to hear your answers and I’d be more than willing to help you out in the comments below.


Will Chou

Will is a personal development blogger. Get his free Self-Help Starter Pack gift at willyoulaugh.com/dlm.

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