Clean up your inbox, finish your to-do list, and de-clutter your daily life—for good!
When it comes to productivity, technology is a double-edged sword. For every technological time-saver, there's a new distraction that sweeps in to steal the precious time you just saved. Unfortunately, our smartphones may be doing as much harm as good: A recent British survey estimated that we spend roughly 23 days a year looking at our phones, and it's safe to say much of that time isn't exactly helping us get more done.
Although unplugging can sometimes be the best way to boost productivity, a smartphone can still be an incredibly helpful tool for simplifying tasks and organizing your work and personal life—if you have the right tools.
From the note-saving app that's been called "last notebook you'll ever need" to a brain-mapping tool to guide your most productive brainstorming session ever, click through the slideshow below for seven apps to boost productivity—and streamline your life.
Called "the iPhone's most beautiful to-do list app" by The Verge, Clear ($1.99) is a productivity app for those who care about aesthetics just as much—if not more—than functionality. But it's also incredibly user-friendly: Just swipe to check an item off the list, and simply shake your phone for the option to email your list. The user can also create separate lists for work, shopping, personal goals, and more. Gizmodo deems it "perfect for busy people."
Formerly known as Read It Later, the free app Pocket can be used to save articles, videos, and web pages that you don't have time to read but want to return to later. Like Evernote, the app syncs across platforms for easy access and streamlined link-saving.
CNET gave the app a five-star review, writing: "If you're looking for a bookmarking tool that syncs across devices, then look no further. Better than Instapaper and other competitors, Pocket is the app to beat in the category."
Sync all your notes, clippings, to-do lists, and reminders across devices with Evernote, the highly-rated productivity app that makes it to the top of many reviewers' lists. The free app conserves time and energy by saving all your files, photos, reminders, to-do lists, tweets, and more in one app accessible from all your platforms. Email notes to yourself or others, and search within notes for easy access to any information.
"Evernote is the last notebook you'll ever need," Social Media Today writes.
Before you dismiss the idea of mind-mapping as something out of The Matrix, try the brainstorming tool MindNode ($9.99). The iPhone and iPad app could lead you to some of your best ideas in less time by allowing you to organize projects and concepts in a vibrant graphic.
"The theory is that these large, pictorial networks mirror the way our brains work, making it easier to spot connections and insert new ideas," a Forbes article explains.
If just looking at your overflowing Gmail inbox makes your pulse quicken, the free iPhone app Mailbox is your new best friend. The app helps you tackle that mounting inbox—with the goal of getting down to the elusive "inbox zero"—by using convenient labels for all your unread emails and a feature that allows you to instantly swipe messages to archive or trash.
"Mailbox largely fixes a problem most of us have with email: quickly getting rid of the junk we don't want, and saving the stuff we do for later," writes Business Insider. "You'll want to give it a try."
Recommended by Mashable for boosting work productivity, CloudOn (free in the App Store) allows you to use Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint to create documents on the go using your iPhone, iPad, or Droid. Users can sync with Box, Dropbox, Google Drive, and SkyDrive accounts, and also email files to contacts directly from mobile devices, so you don't have to wait until you get to a computer to add that attachment.
"If you find yourself in a pinch needing to work with Microsoft Office files, the free CloudOn app might be just what you’re looking for," writes TIME TechLand.
You've written on at least five to-do lists that you need to pick up your dry cleaning, but can never seem to remember at the moment you're actually walking past the dry cleaner. Of course, there's an app for that. Try Checkmark, which can set up reminders based on time and location. For $4.99, users can create repeat notifications, or snooze reminders to save for next time.
"While Apple's built-in Reminders app does location-based tasks pretty well, Checkmark makes it dead simple," LifeHacker raves.