Home

The 5 Productivity Tools You Should Use To Help Make Life Easier

With smartphones becoming more and more popular by the day—or minute—more and more apps are invented to help us manage these phones and, in essence, our lives.

We’ve told you about some commuter ones before, but the below apps and email tricks are ones to help manage our podcasts, sleep, and emails.

So here are a few that I tried out myself to see if they were really worth the hype. The end result? Yes.

1. Boomerang for Gmail

BOOM
Boomerang for Gmail

Don’t you wish that you could schedule emails the same way people schedule posts for Facebook, Twitter, and blog entries? Well, you can.

With Boomerang for Gmail. As long as you have Gmail, you can add Boomerang to it and decide when emails will be sent, whether it’s later today or next week. You can also choose when to get certain emails—instead of getting them and hitting “mark unread.”

With Boomerang, you can pick when you’d like certain emails sent to you again… just like an actual boomerang! Another feature I love is how you can email yourself a reminder about something now (i.e., call the New York office at 9 a.m., and you will then receive that email at the time you specify.

Pretty cool, right? This is Time-Management 101, not to mention Priority Management 101, too. The best part? The above is free.

If you want a few fancier features, like mobile access or recurring messages, there’s a monthly subscription ($4.99, $14.99, or $49.99 per month, depending on the perks you prefer). However, you can try any one of these other plans for free for 30 days—and no credit card number is necessary.

2. DoggCatcher Podcast Player (For Androids)

DOGG
Informr/Google Play

Lots of people listen to podcasts now, perhaps even more so than music (like Spotify or Pandora) on their phones.

Want to keep track of all the podcasts on your Android? DoggCatcher’s a great one. For just $2,99, you’ll be able to arrange your podcasts with its super-organized interface, plus listen in or out of your car (not all podcast apps have auto abilities).

You can do everything from play podcasts offline, categorize your various feeds and adjust playback speeds. I find it fascinating how some people prefer slower or faster speech when listening. Check it out!

3. Overcast: Podcast Player (For iPhones)

IPHONE ONE
iTunes

Don’t have an Android? You’re in luck, for there’s a lot of apps to organize your podcasts for iPhones. My friends swear by this one, Overcast, and online reviews do, too.

It has all sorts of features, including reminding you when new podcasts are available, downloading podcasts anytime (online or off), and playing offline like the above Android DoggCatcher.

You can customize your playlists and it works with certain car radios, too. The cost is $2.99 for three months, $5.99 for six months, and $11.99 for a year, but it seems well worth the podcast-organizing, if you ask me.

4. The Delete Button

delete key photo
Photo by Ervins Strauhmanis

This isn’t an app, but a way of life. After all, a lot of us delete Facebook “friends” we rarely speak to (or remember) or ones who are toxic, so why not unnecessary emails, too?

The “Delete Button” idea comes to us courtesy of Money Saving Mom, and I LOVE it. She keeps her email inbox to five emails or less… FIVE!

I am all too guilty of keeping 13,000-some emails in my inbox, and that’s just the unread ones. She encourages people to get rid of all the spam (i.e., unsubscribe), filter messages, respond immediately, and/or archive them if need be. Of course, there is no cost for this one—just discipline.

5. Sleep Cycle

dog sleeping photo
Photo by changehali

We’ve talked about insomnia before—tips to deal with it and (finally) get some sleep.

Things to eat before bed, things not to eat before bed, and so on. And, as you may know, we are pretty useless if we don’t get enough sleep.

As a regular insomniac, people are constantly suggesting things I try in order to get more sleep, or at least ways to monitor when I am most asleep. A few friends mentioned this app, Sleep Cycle, but I was suspicious—how is an app going to help me sleep? But they swore by it, so I finally gave it a try. In a word? Amazing.

It used to only be an iOS app, but now I’m so glad it works for Androids, too. It will set you back $0.99, but it’s worth it. Like those sleep studies people enroll in when they have sleep apnea, this app monitors how you sleep.

We have various stages of sleep, from light sleep to deep to REM-sleep. For instance, a full sleep cycle lasts for about an hour-and-a-half, says Sleep Cycle, and occurs many times per night.

You either place the phone on your nightstand or in bed with you and leave the rest up to the app! It’ll know when you’re asleep and when you should be asleep, but wake up in the night. In the morning, you can check out the results.

Here’s a sample graph:

SLEEP
Sleep Cycle