Top productivity apps that will improve and simplify your life

Our relationship with new technology is funny. Try watching old clips about the future from the 1950′s and 60′s, and you’ll find innovative and exciting new technologies that make everyday life simple and better. Yet, today a significant portion of folks have a smartphone in their pocket — a device as powerful as a computer, that connects us to all of the information ever known by man —and most of us just use it to play Words With Friends, Candy Crush or catch up with our exes on Facebook.

But the fantastical and awe-inspiring futuristic dreams of generations past is also available, today, on our smartphones. Ignoring the incredible applications like Siri, so overlooked for how they change our relationship with not only our computer devices but also with the world around us, these five productivity apps innovate tasks that will improve and simplify your life … simply.

1. 30/30

3030

Photo Credit: 30/30

Billed as a task manager, but much more than that, 30/30 allows you to define your day and stick to it. We all know the things we need to do, and how long it should take us to do them. But as Parkinson’s Law states, work expands to fill the time allotted to it. If you’re just bouncing from one task to the next, with no sense of how long it is taking you, it can spiral out of control. By the end of the day, you’ll look at your to-do list and realize the first couple items took you all day.

That’s where 30/30 comes in. Define a task, establish how long you want to work on it, and go. When the time is up, it notifies you that it’s time to move on to the next task. But it’s also built for reality, so if you need a little more time on what you’re working on, you can add more in 5 minute intervals right from the app’s home screen.

It’s also a great way to build your breaks into your day. Guaranteeing you give yourself those moments to refresh and recharge that are often skipped because you’re already behind. And 30/30 is free in the App Store.

2. Today

Today

Waking up in the morning is not a pleasant experience. But we have the technology to make it better. Portrayed in endless sci-fi films and inspired by J.A.R.V.I.S. in Iron Man, Today gets your morning off to a great start. Waking you with the current weather forecast, top news headlines, most recent emails, upcoming calendar events, as well as other customizable options like Facebook and Twitter feeds, Today speaks to you with uncanny clarity and realism with the advanced speak technology of iOS.
You can construct your perfect wake up call in whatever order you’d like, including soothing ring tones and current time. Today gets your mind working, allowing you to wake up more smoothly, while also providing the current important information you’d have to manually check later. Today is $2.99 in the App Store.

3. Paper by FiftyThree

Paper by FiftyThree

Notebooks like Moleskines are the idea lockers of the most successful creative and business individuals. Paper by FiftyThree takes that experience and beautifully translates it to your mobile device. Offering six different writing and drawing tools, and an expandable palette of colors, Paper by FiftyThree allows you to get what’s in your brain onto paper for mind-mapping, ideating, and cataloging. I find it works wonderfully on an iPad with a stylus.

Create any number of individual notebooks to keep thoughts organized for work, home, or any other separation your workflow needs. Paper by FiftyThree is free in the App Store!

4. Genius Scan

Once only the fantasy of Cold War-era spy thrillers, the pocket document scanner is now a practical and cheap reality for anyone with an iOS device. Genius Scan isn’t just a camera app – it’s truly a full mobile scanning solution. It corrects for perspective, detects page edges, uses post-processing to enhance the scan for readability, allows you to catalog and tag your Dell latitude d830 battery documents, as well as share them with a long list of cloud services like Dropbox, Google Drive and Evernote.

The uses are endless. Scan expense receipts while traveling for work, archive hand-written notes, capture whiteboard sessions during meetings or classes, or simply have a photocopier no matter where you are. GeniusScan is $2.99 in the App Store.

5. Doable

Doable is sort of the opposite of a to-do list: It keeps track of all those things that you want to do again and again. Want to exercise three times per week? Call your old high school friend once per month? Limit your fast food intake to twice per month? Clean the bathroom once per week? Doable allows you track, chart, and stay on top of your recurring life goals.

When you’ve completed one of your goals, just swipe on the item and it will mark it as ‘done’ and move it to the bottom of the list. Now when your mom complains you don’t call enough, you can see she’s right. Doable is $0.99 in the App Store.

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