Friday, November 2, 2012

Top Ten Productivity Apps For the iPhone Junkie

I am probably the only person in the world who has more productivity apps on my iPhone than games. I could have funded a trip to Maui and back with the money I’ve spent on apps that process, track, list and analyze things. So, I thought I’d share with you my top 10 productivity apps so far.

1.     “Drop Box” – Free - Dave Patel, a Huntsman executive type who knows stuff and has been there and done that, told me about Drop Box and it has become something I use every day. Since many documents I work on become group-editing projects, they end up in Drop Box where everyone can get at them. Once something is in Drop Box I can access it on my phone which means I can continue to work on projects even while in a line at the grocery store or while I’m waiting for a meeting to begin. (Of course, you can also use it to work on stuff while you are on vacation or watching a sunset, which can cause your wife to whack you on the side of the head. Be careful.) It’s free because they want you to use it so much you’ll start storing all your pictures, documents and even old socks in there. Once you are hooked, they charge you to for added storage space.

2.     “Docs To Go” - $9.99 – I know, spending $10 for an app in the iTunes world is like paying $200,000 for something in real-life dollars. It’s expensive. But it is a grown-up app you need if you want to use Word, Excel and PowerPoint on your phone. (I’ve never used it for PowerPoint but I suppose that I could always give PowerPoint presentations to people who are in line with me at the grocery store.) I bought this so I could open the work stuff I store in “Drop Box.”

3.     “Easy TimeSheet” - $2.99 – There’s a free version but I wanted all the bells and whistles. This app allows you to not only track how long it takes you to complete a project, like writing a blog, but to figure out how much your company paid for that particular project based on your hourly time rate. This would be a better app if I could find another app that reminds me to stop it when I switch projects and start it when I begin a new project. If you have a lot of multi-tasking and moving pieces in your work life, this can be a difficult app to maximize.

4.     iBlueSky - $9.99 – Have you ever tried mind mapping? This is a great app for organizing your thoughts. Also, if you take notes in class with a mind map approach like this you can really remember things for a long time. (If you have a disorganized, rambling teacher, however, it will drive you crazy trying to take notes in a mind-map format.) If you hate lists but also hate forgetting stuff and being undependable, you could make this app work for you too. I think someday, when I am an evolved, peaceful person, I will have my to-do lists in iBlueSky. There are lots of apps that do mind mapping approaches but the others have square bubbles that are too rigid and or goofy bubbles that make you feel like you are in junior high. This one is simple, clean, with no caffeine.

5.     “Touch Goal” – $3.99 – This is a good app for people who like to assign point values to stuff they do so they can have a total score at the end of the day. For example, you could give yourself 20 points for sticking to a diet all day and one point for every time you pick up a piece of trash outside and throw it away, proving you are a good person. I know, I know, the idea of quantifying your day with a score will horrify all you right-brained, mentally-balanced, sunset-watching people. Not me. I just give myself 10 points if I can watch a sunset without getting whacked by my wife.  

6.     “Streaks – Motivation Calendar” - $1.99 – Sports figures have people tracking all the stuff they do so that someone can announce how many passes in a row they’ve caught or how many games in a row they’ve got on base. Why shouldn’t you use this to keep track of things you consistently do, like how often you exercise or how many days in a row you can go without complaining? (My personal record is five days and it would be higher if it weren’t for that no-good, stupid … oops. I guess I’ll have to start over tomorrow.)

7.     “Daily Tracker” – Free – This is an app that includes just about everything you could want for tracking things, including a “to-do-list” and “expenses” function. I use it to track how much sleep I get. We all think we don’t get enough sleep. I know, however, that in 2012 I’ve been averaging 7:06 minutes a night, something I would not have believed, if had not tracked it myself. (Caution: if you are someone who likes to honestly brag about how little sleep you get, this app could spoil all that for you.)

8.     MyFitnessPal – Free – I use MyFitnessPal to track calories. It has bazillion foods listed. And it remembers which foods you eat most often so they are always at top your list. When you type in “chocolate chip cookie,” for example, you don’t have to go searching for it, it knows your cookie habit. You can also fix it so your friends can see how you are doing and give you a bad time if you eat only chocolate chip cookies.

9.     Tactio Health - $1.99 – I use Tactio Health to track my weight because it predicts the future. For example, it says if I continue to lose weight at the rate I am right on my current diet, I will have lost 450 pounds and reached my goal by April 3, 2013. It’s fun as long as you are losing weight but if you gain weight it gets rude and tells you things like, if you don’t get serious, you won’t reach your goal until 2038 or worse yet, you’ll NEVER reach your goal. On this app you can also track lots of things like body mass, resting pulse, activity, cholesterol and chlora-hydrine-fiber levels. This is the kind of stuff healthy, skinny people like to track. I just use it to predict the future.

10.  “Clear” - $1.99 – If you love crossing things off your to-do list, this is the app for you. It’s a very simple app but it is very addictive. It doesn’t allow you to do project management, scheduling or a thousand other things lots of apps offer but it gives you a little shot of joy when you check stuff off your list because it makes this little happy Star Trek noise. If you aren’t a list maker, don’t even try it. You’ll never understand.

The above list changes almost daily. I’m always searching out new apps in hopes of finding the perfect app that fixes everything and brings joy, peace and top-quality pizza into my life on a regular basis.
Now this list, of course, doesn’t cover game aps, entertainment apps, news apps, book aps or all the fitness and running apps I have bought. I don’t even mention “Coop Shoot,” a must-have game app. That game app was developed by former Huntsman student Britney Johnson, and current Huntsman students Lauren and Shai McDonald, and they are way smart and cool, so everyone should have that app.

There are so many apps. There are even apps to help you find apps. What are some of your favorite apps? Let me know and maybe I’ll check them out next time I’m watching a sunset or I’ll share them in a future blog post.

— Steve Eaton

Steve Eaton, is the director of communications, for the Jon M. Huntsman School or Business or, as some people call him, “the PR guy in the basement.” He writes a column for the Deseret News that can be seen here.