Listicle: Starting off the year with the right apps to boost productivity

This article first appeared in Digital Edge, The Edge Malaysia Weekly, on January 11, 2021 - January 17, 2021.
Listicle: Starting off the year with the right apps to boost productivity
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After your long year-end break, you may be finding it difficult to get back into the flow of things. Never fear, technology has the answer. Here are five apps that can help you find your work mojo. But there is one proviso: They can help you only if you are willing to help yourself.

 1  Headspace — for wellness

Headspace teaches you the basics of meditation and mindfulness. There are free basic guided courses to get you started, with additional paid options for more courses.

Mental wellness and clarity are foundational to being productive. You can meditate in the morning, during the day or even before you sleep. 

If you are not convinced, the app is so popular worldwide that it even has its own Netflix series “Headspace: Guide to Meditation” premiering this month. 

 2  Spotify 

a) For setting the mood

Spotify, an audio-streaming and media services provider, is known for mainstream music, but it has countless instrumental playlists to help you get into the flow at work. 

The playlists, curated by either Spotify or its users, feature everything from classical to electronic music for late-night work sessions. 

b) For knowledge on the go

There is also a variety of podcasts to choose from and learn new things from experts in a fun way. 

The free version of the app works wonderfully, with the exception of ads once in a while. You can also purchase a subscription to go adless.

 3  Notion — for managing projects

Notion is an all-in-one workspace that allows you to take notes and sync projects. It also has a to-do list feature. The best part is that it is completely customisable to your liking and needs.

It is used by many teams working remotely and great for keeping track of all your individual projects. It works well on your PC or laptop and the mobile app is just as great. 

 4  Forest — for staying present

Forest uses the pomodoro technique, a time management method, to help you stay focused on your task. This technique balances 25 minutes of work with a five-minute break. 

Before starting a task, the app will show a timer and a tree is “planted”. It will slowly grow and can even die if you leave the app halfway (to go scroll on your social media sites, for example). Studies have shown that setting rewards can motivate you to stay productive, and this tiny virtual tree certainly does the trick. 

The Forest team also partners with tree-planting organisations and planted more than 946,000 trees last year. Now, you can get busy and help the planet at the same time.

 5  Koober — for knowledge in a pinch

Ever wished you had more time to read? Koober condenses best-selling books for self-improvement into less-than-30-minutes audiobooks. Koober’s library contains more than 1,000 e-books in both mini audio and written formats. 

If you love the summarised version, you can purchase the actual book. Koober saves time and helps you prioritise your reading better.