Any suggestions for apps to skyrocket my productivity to your level?
First off, I want to say I’m not some super productive, Type A personality who gets everything done on time and perfectly. I am a solid Type B.
I get 6-8 hours of sleep every night, try to have as many meals with my family as I can, and spend 3 hours a week minimum out physically with friends. Chat is a poor substitute and from experience, I know I’d go stir crazy if I didn’t go outside enough.
More importantly, I’m lazy, so I like getting the painful, boring, and time-intensive parts of my day done quickly to get back to whatever else I’d rather be doing with that time. Work for work’s sake is my enemy. So, all the apps that I use to boost productivity are usually time saving ones or memory aides. (I need the latter because my nickname in my barkada is ‘goldfish’ for my 5-second memory.)
But in the course of juggling internships with school, and then running blog while freelancing, all while being a good friend, sister, and daughter, I think I’ve gotten really good at being quickly productive. I just don’t use the standard measures; I prefer hacks to time save so I can accomplish as much as I can in as little time as possible.
Everything I’m detailing down below are actual apps on my phone, and disclaimer: none of them are groundbreaking, never-been-heard-before apps. I’m not a big risk taker with new tools because again, I’m lazy. I don’t want to change my system without good reason.
The only time I’d adopt something new is when one of my friends starts raving about it nonstop. And I trust that friend’s opinion. Then and only then will I consider changing something in my productivity or work routine.
All these apps are free, and are on Android. I assume they’re also on the App Store, but I will not check because I do not own anything Apple and most likely, never will if I have to pay for it myself. All links will also lead to the Play Store. Please search for these apps instead if you’re on an Apple device. ✌
Also, another disclaimer: I’m not getting paid to promote any of this, I just love these apps. But I will be linking you guys to promo codes or referral links, so in case you do sign up and use my link, we both get free stuff!
Last point, none of the apps on this list will be about finance or fitness, because I think everyone has their own style for those things. And they’re also things that I don’t want to tell others how to handle. Partly because I don’t like it when people tell me how to handle my finances and fitness.
In no particular order, here’s a list of apps that tweak my productivity to be 1% better.
I like Stitcher, but one of my best friends has been pushing me to try Podbean, mainly because it’s easier to download the whole podcast en masse. Stitcher wants you to download it one-by-one, and lacks the option to mass download a series’ whole backlog. Aside from that one problem, I love Stitcher and according to my RescueTime (also detailed down below), it’s the 8th app I spend most my time on since I use it while I’m in transit.
I decided to switch from listening to my music to podcasts in September, and honestly, I regret not switching earlier. Music is great when you want to destress or think deeply. But if you want to maximize your commute, particularly the time in the train or walking to and fro places, podcasts are perfect.
(If you drive alone a lot, I personally think that podcasts and audiobooks are a better use of that time than listening to radio DJ’s talk and talk and talk on stations that should be playing music. I listen to the radio for new songs, not for hours of people who aren’t either experts or interesting talk about useless things. Mini-rant over.)
Long distances seem much much shorter when you’re listening to something interesting, and ultimately beneficial to your growth. There’ve been a lot of times where I’d double back or purposefully take the longer route just to finish an episode properly. I’ve also gotten better leg muscles from all this hurried walking, because when you listen to a podcast at 1.75x speed, you can’t help but walk quickly.
My only comment on content is if you listen to things like “How Stuff Works” or “Freakonomics”, I agree it’s interesting but what direct effect does that have on your daily life? You could bring it up at parties or random conversation, and people might politely listen to you talk and talk about everything you learned from this great episode of that podcast, but really, it’s just information consumption with no use.
I prefer listening to things that could change my life today. Here’s my personal favorites.
- For the aspiring marketer, who wants to be ahead of the pack – The GaryVee Audio Experience
- For the recent corporate entries and climbers, like me – HBR IdeaCast
- For someone who needs to do some major soul searching to help find him/herself – Seth Godin’s Startup School
Main Use: Commute, gym, chores. Mindless but physically-engaging tasks.
An email app. How productive.
I advocate Gmail more than I do Yahoo mail because of how you can filter out your emails, and only be notified by things that matter. Do that on desktop by drag and dropping things, or google how to filter emails. It’s a great way to declutter your inbox.
You can also have your Gmail pre-load all your emails, even promotions and updates, when you attach to wifi so that when you’re trapped in line, and you don’t want to read or podcast, you can just scroll through one of the weekly newsletters you receive instead of scrolling through Facebook. Save data, learn something new.
The other part of this productivity hack though is to sign up for newsletters that you’d actually want to read. I follow a lot of productivity hacks or general “things you need to know in life” newsletters, but my favorite to receive is The Hustle. It’s all the day’s news in a quick, bite-sized portion. And usually, it’s designed prettily.
(Disclaimer: This is a referral link, I get access to cool, free content for inviting people in but I have no idea what it is. I’ll tell you about it when I get it.)
Other newsletters you can find are ones where people teach you something, this website has a whole catalog that you can pick and learn from every week.
Main Use: Stuck in line, learning something new. And emailing people.
I take a lot of voice memos, because it’s easier to walk and talk than walk and type. And I speak faster than most people. Evernote has a nice widget that shows you the recently viewed notes, and a menu bar that has Quick Note, Camera, Voice Memo, and Doodle.
I use this all the time for random thoughts that pop in my head, for chores I have to finish, and for reminders as to why I’m angry today for my reflection later tonight. It’s straightforward; a notebook in my phone because I’m moving too fast to bring out paper and pen and write down what I’m thinking.
The best part is that it can transcribe my voice memos down into typed words, so long as I didn’t speak too fast or the background wasn’t too noisy.
Main Use: Commute, gym, chores. Physically-engaging tasks, that help me get suddenly inspired.
Moment is a better alternative (and is on the App Store) but all my data’s already on RescueTime.
RescueTime is a background app that I installed on both mobile and desktop to track what I do. It gives me a detailed dashboard every day, week, and month on what I’ve been doing on my computer and my phone. And it also forces me to be more productive since I can tell when I’m slacking off.
I’m on vacation mode right now, so of course I’d spend more time on entertaining rather than working mode. But still. Just checking on my dashboard for this blog post forced me to type a little faster and close a lot more tabs. My productivity score right now is one of the lowest from the last 3 months. ☹️
Keep it on all devices you use. It’s kinda creepy at first, how much it knows about you. It can tell when I’ve been talking on the phone too much, or obsessing over TV Tropes, and it sends gentle reminders to stop doing that. It’s like a well-meaning butler, who only wants what’s best for us.
Main Use: Check up on myself every week to see if I’m progressing. Pressure myself into using social media less.
It’s pretty straightforward, so here’s my protip instead.
Whether on mobile or on desktop, screenshot is your best friend. I don’t like repeat looking at someone’s profile, I worry they think I’m some stalker or something. So, I take a screenshot of their profile if I really want to look at something again for later reference.
I usually do this with my idols or people I want to befriend, because I don’t want them to remember my name as ‘that girl who keeps looking at my LinkedIn every week’. Search, screenshot, and don’t return unless they updated something.
In line with that, ya’ll can add me up on LinkedIn!
Random other protip: when you go onto someone’s profile to study them, endorse their skills for them. They’ll probably message you with thanks, and you can ask them to endorse you back. It helps boost you up in the rankings for that skill, helpful when recruiters are doing a keyword search for new candidates.
Main Use: Social stalking and comparison against everyone else, plus research when meeting new people.
When your friends aren’t cooperating with the “where do you want to eat?” question, this is your best answer. Eatigo is a reservation app, like Booky, but unlike Booky, its discounts are off by percentage. I’ve eaten at Heat, EDSA Shang, for 50% off with this. (We booked the 9pm slot, amazingly they still put out food nonstop til 10pm so it’s really sulit.)
This app is so legit, and I love it so much since it immediately solves the “what are we eating???” question quickly while saving your whole group money.
Plus, you don’t have to wait in line since it’s a reservation app. Genius!! I’ve also ended up eating at restaurants I’d never think of because they were on Eatigo. My hunger for a discount is usually greater than my cravings, so it’s a win-win for everyone. Anyways, here’s my referral code for you to get the Eatigo app and get us both Php150 rewards.
Or use my personalized code “justineltc” for us to still get those rewards. I really want free Grab rides and Auntie Anne’s so do both of us a favor and get the app please. Thanks~
Main Use: Solve indecisive people’s arguments, and save money while still eating yummy food.
This is a creepy thing, but I left my Messenger logged into my friend’s phone, and my Google Maps kept pinging me with his location. So I knew where my friend was all the time. I knew exact restaurants, time he was there, where he lived, where his girlfriend lived.
I’d freak him out by asking very specific questions like, “How was Tender Bob’s at Glorietta 4 from 1pm-3:30pm yesterday?” He was rightfully spooked until I explained that because my Messenger was on his phone, I could track him through Google Maps. Creepy right?
Anyways, because Google Maps gets to know you so well, you can input your usual addresses in it and usual modes of transport, and it’ll tell you in advance how long it’ll take to get there if you don’t want to be late.
All that extra info comes in handy the night before and 2 hours before departing anywhere since you can foresee all the routes in advance, and what’re your alternatives for transport. It factors in Grab, Uber, trains, jeeps, buses, cars, and walking. Yes, Waze is more reliable for real-time updates but Google Maps is more of a planning tool.
I use this a lot for meetings and interviews to figure out how to appear from Point A to B, looking perfect but still commuting. There’s a nifty other feature called “Explore” that tells you nearby establishments to where you’re headed. You can find restaurants, restrooms, Starbucks, gas stations, anything and everything you might need while navigating the city.
The best part is you can save it all offline. Perfect if you have no data like me, and you plan to walk through the city.
Main Use: Plan the commute ahead of time, find your tambayan before a meeting, and possibly find new, yummy food.
Epub Reader Apps
I like FB Reader, but there’s a billion epub readers out there. Choose whichever one you like, download 3 books onto your phone (I always keep 12 though because of irrational fears), and read when you can. I usually put 2 nonfiction books, preferably about something I want to learn about, and 1 comedy in there. Book diversity to go with any mood I might have.
Reading time is carved out of what could have been my social media time. I believe that socmed can and should be waiting for when you’re bored, exhausted, and in need of mindless distraction. It’s not my go-to source for entertainment, because I realized that I felt really jealous when I scroll through my feeds and see my friends abroad and having fun. That just ruins my mood and motivation.
I don’t want to impose negativity on my sleepy brain first thing in the morning, so I’ve made a conscious effort to change my phone routines.
If I’m not chatting with a friend, just mindlessly scrolling and refreshing, I advocate closing the app and cracking open a book. Reading just 10-15 pages a day really helps in the long run, though I try to read a chapter a day.
You’ll be amazed at how much more you know, compared to your friends after a few weeks. Take it from me. I privately think that part of the reason I am where I am today is because I just keep reading. We’re extremely lucky to be born in this time, when any knowledge we want could be ours with just a few taps from our fingers.
My friend wrote a better appeal to reading more though. It’s number 4 on that list.
One of my faves to reread, especially before a stressful situation like an interview, is Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? or Tina Fey’s Bossypants. The laughs keep me in a positive state of mind and far from the anxiety of my situation.
But if you want to read something that could change your habits (like this article hopefully) read Charles Duhigg’s Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business. It’s excellent at breaking down how to be efficiently productive, not just worker bee productive.
Main Use: Stuck in line, learning something new.
Pretty much the same as the prior one, but this is more for keeping track of a bunch of files on your phone. I have a copy of my license, birth certificate, resume, TIN, etc. on my phone for just in case moments since that happens a lot as an ~adult~.
And I use the app more to check anything from my email right away, which helps since I’m forgetful and will probably forget to check it again if it’s been marked as read.
I personally believe that since everyone’s busy and on the go, they should be sending in PDF and .doc or .ppt, not just one or the other. You never know how someone’s going to access files and having that option is a godsend.
Docusign is also one of the great complimentary apps to have since it lets you sign documents via your phone. I’ve signed like 3 contracts on the LRT, because of this app and the free wifi at the stations. But I wouldn’t have been able to sign if I couldn’t magnify, highlight, or doodle on the PDF’s to point out flaws or worrisome clauses in my contracts. Life saver.
Main Use: Reply to my emails faster so that they’re done and gone, especially when they have attachments.
ASUS Specific Apps
- Do It Later reminds you about important tasks, like calling your mom at a specific time to tell her you’re coming home late. I use it to schedule calls and texts with resume consultation clients, and I always click the option to remind me multiple times.
- Remote Link controls your laptop or desktop through Bluetooth or Wifi connection. You can make your smartphone act as a mouse or while presenting a PowerPoint you can control the slides through your phone or even control your media from the application itself. Perfect for presentation season, since I don’t want to buy a clicker.
- Smart Kit 360 takes what should be 32 apps and collapses them into 1. It’s 16MB in total, the Swiss Army Knife of apps.
I can’t end this post without telling ya’ll about a dilemma I never thought I’d have. When I turn my wifi on, the sound of my phone vibrating from notifications fills me with dread. I know that a lot of those are from work-related chats and emails. And I’m scared.
I still have some weird form of PTSD left over from thesis sem when I had 9 group works, but the top 20++ chats of my Messenger each had 100+ messages that weren’t filled with random stuff. Everything was actually work-related. I don’t even know why I had 20++ chats, for 9 group works.
(In hindsight, it was probably because we kept making group chats minus 1 member, just to talk shit about that 1 member. I can’t help but wonder how many group chats exist to talk badly about me as a terrible groupmate too.)
Since I’m still a teenage girl, I don’t want my phone to be a purely work-related device. That’s the worst possible thing to happen. A phone with no games or distractions, just work, will turn me into the corporate slave everyone thinks I’ll become.
Sure, I could just get 2 phones, one for work and one for personal use. But that’s a huge waste of my fresh grad salary. It’s so little already, and I’ll purposefully harm it more by adding a monthly payment plan for a phone I use only 1/3 the time? Dumb move on my part.
I want to use my smartphone to its maximum capabilities, and I don’t want to carry more than I have to. For sure, there’s a phone out there that can run all the apps I listed above at the same time, while still running my normal, but extremely heavy social media apps.
I want to have Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram running in the background while I answer emails. I want to be able to scroll through my feed for 30 seconds, switch apps, refresh timeline, scroll again for 30 seconds, switch to camera to take a few selfies to send to my group chats, switch back to refresh my timelines, then switch to my emails, all while playing my podcast or music in the background.
(Like I said above, I’m not an experimenter. I don’t even use Snapchat because I don’t see the point. And also, you have to individually add people for them to find you, a barrier that I find weird in today’s ‘I want to be famous’ landscape. Segue over.)
And I want to be able to keep doing this on repeat until either my eyes hurt, my thumb hurts, or my impending sense of doom that I’m wasting my life returns.
But the selfie part is most important. I like taking photos of things around me because of my short-term memory, but my fave is to take pics of me with my friends. Everyone’s busy so when I can drag them all out at the same time, it really needs commemoration. And when months or years have passed, it’s nice to look back on your old selfies and see how much you’ve grown.
(For one, turns out I used to be a loooooooooot thinner in 2016 compared to today. I have no idea why.)
So, when Asus came out with their new Zenfone 4 Selfie, I was happy to get one since it’s the perfect companion for young working professionals like me. (By the way, Life Update: I just graduated from Ateneo and will be starting work in January at Unilever~)
Aesthetically, it’s light, and feels great in my hand. I also feel really cool when I’m talking on the phone and I can’t explain why. Price-wise, at Php13k, it’s easy on the wallet for all the benefits it’s giving. You’re getting iPhone-level photography with Samsung-level functionality, without breaking your wallet. It’s also really pretty, but a magnet for fingerprints and dust
I’ve actually had the phone for a while but because of finals month, I didn’t get to switch. It would have added way more stress than needed in my life. I regret that though since it’s a really cool phone. It has a split screen function that makes it easy to check my email and Messenger at the same time that I use when my friends say 1 thing, but the email time stamps say another.
In conclusion, I just wanted to say I have a new phone, and hopefully it stops giving me an overwhelming sense of dread since I don’t have to worry about it being too slow to keep up with me anymore.
To know the latest updates and announcements from ASUS Philippines, visit them here.
Special thanks to my amazing friend, Mari Deluria for being a fantastic product photographer. I linked ya’ll to his online portfolio, which divides into events and portraits. He’s looking to strengthen his product portfolio, and I can’t recommend him enough.
We took 200 photos in a terrible environment, with no natural sunlight, and he curated then edited them down to the best. Ya’ll should get him for your product shoots, just email him at email@example.com or drop him a message on his IG. (I know, it’s weird that all his photos are for girls but trust me when I say he’s not as creepy as he could be given what he does.)
Here’s a summary of the 9 apps to tweak your productivity when you’re on-the-go:
If you want a hi-res PDF copy to keep as a reminder, download it here.
In case you have no idea where you are, welcome to The Border Collective, where any question you’ve got on internships, resumes, or careers in the PH can and will be answered. I’m Justine, founder and writer of all things here.
Self-Improvement is a sub-category of Resource where I share little life hacks I’ve learned over the course of my internships (and probably early work years), so that you guys have an idea of how someone as lazy as me got to where I am today.
It’s not meant to be some sort of bible, but instead a real account of what works for my day-to-day. I’d never recommend something I didn’t try out myself.
If there’s something you want to ask but never knew where to send them to, drop them in The Border Collective’s Google Form or ask.fm. Being a kid myself, I’ve probably gone through the same situations. And at the very least, I can tell you what NOT to do.
Content Partnerships, Plugs, or Business Deals? firstname.lastname@example.org
Email your proposal and a summary of why that’s relevant for TBC’s audience. Don’t worry, we don’t charge money if you’re student-run, just social media x-deals, just like we did in our features for MSE Summit or the APEX Challenge.
Support TBC? facebook.com/TheBorderCollective
Hope you read something useful, til the next time I write something, bye~
Join TBC’s private email list to know the best resources for
- Figuring out what your dream job is
- Making the right connections without coming off as a user, an idiot, or a soulless drone
- Acing every interview, getting an interview anywhere, & then some
- Reading and applying Western business and management books here in S.E. Asia
- Knowing which podcasts are worth your time, and which are just filled with fluff
- And much more
Most of my advice is very different from other career “experts”, since I actually tried and tested it myself. And because, you know, I’m a Chinese girl in the Philippines who tried out for almost every multinational here, while building contacts up in the startup world.
So, expect it to be very contextualized for Asians, women, and // or millennials // Gen Z-ers.
PS, do not sign up if you’re lazy, a whiner, or an entitled brat. There’s nothing useful in here for you.