We all understand that our iPhones are incredible portable computers. People put together the space program and the atom bomb with less computational power than we put in our pockets, and what do we use it for? Bejeweled and Facebook. (Sure, atomic devastation might not be the most constructive thing in history, but at least it’s doing something.)
That’s why we’ve collected five powerful productivity applications for your iPhone.
DISCLAIMER: If the iPhone could actually reach into your mind to make you work harder, Steve Jobs’ master plan would be complete. Each of these will help with work, but we’re afraid that iWorkEthic is still some years away.
1. Action Lists
Getting Things Done isn’t just a great idea, it’s an entire (and extremely popular) productivity solution. The core of GTD is action lists, the sheer soul-deep satisfaction of crossing things off the list with a visible measure of your achievement. The problem for many who’d most benefit from it is that “making and monitoring lists” is one more task they (wrongly) think they can’t afford to take on, which is why task list apps are so useful.
Action Lists is one such system, and it’s seriously smart. As well as offering all the usual abilities (dividing tasks among projects, flexible scheduling for repeating tasks, notes, etc.), it also has an “inbox” feature reminding you of what’s due now and alerting you when new jobs turn up in your queue. It’s an intelligent exploit of our ADD natures; we might forget trash collection day, but we wouldn’t make a day without checking our phones. Use the latter to solve the former, and as we’ve just cunningly suggested, you can use any of these task systems to include everything in one place, not just your work-related stuff.
The real power of professional productivity isn’t just doing more; it’s never missing anything. We’ve all endured crises brought on by nothing but our own forgetfulness, which is why Evernote isn’t just useful — it’s nothing less than an upgrade turning you into an Internet–powered cyborg. Anytime, any place, you can scribble a note, take a picture of a task, or even record a voice note on the run and upload them all to a central repository.
Then, you simply sit down at the start of the day and access the repository, from your phone (on the bus) or at the office as your coffee cools. An entire record of everything you’ve thought, remembered, feared forgetting or simply wanted to tell your future self at a time he or she could do something about it. An essential app.
There are two types of people in the world: those motivated by a ticking time-limit to do more and those paralyzed by the pressure. And since a constantly counting-down clock is an accurate metaphor for all life, you’d better become one of the former. (On the upside, we’ve just saved you some time by summarizing all of philosophy. You’re welcome.)
TimeWerks is a project time tracker, allowing you to automatically track and invoice different clients or projects as you do them. You’ll inevitably check your messages, or at least the time, before starting each task, so all you have to do is hit the button to instantly generate a 24-hour tracking of your time spent. This is fantastic, because “wasting time writing a timesheet” is one of the most meta — and annoying — curses of the modern employee.
Even if you don’t invoice individually, taking stock of your own time use is an extremely motivating experiment and can be used to identify and eliminate inefficiencies in your daily schedule. Even better, there’s a free TimeWerks Lite you can use for exactly that.
The whole point of a portable computer is to avoid wasting time, a utopian work device where commuting and completing tasks are no longer mutually exclusive. The problem is that, with most programs, you can only really become aware of new problems on the move. Because it’s too appallingly annoying or slow to actually write anything on the go, you’re left stewing in a soup of urgent tasks while you wait to arrive at your desktop to deal with them. No longer!
iDocs offers an array of template documents, meaning most everyday office tasks take only a quarter of the clumsy-thumbstrokes to complete. Simply boot it up, choose the empty document you want, and you have a professional looking file ready to send (or forward it to yourself to tidy up on your computer). You can even try it out right now in your browser! It’s not just about agendas and invitations; you can customize stock apologies, order cancellations, and any number of other tasks, which is why it’s one of the most popular programs in the App Store.
One seriously smart service is Google Docs, allowing an electronic worker to stay connected with the same files no matter where or on what they’re working from — as long as they have a connection. Since the extremely useful (if undeniably awkward) “Offline Mode” was discontinued, those who dare to live offline even a bit have suffered from disconnection, fumbling with files downloaded as other formats. BubbleDocs lets you refer to your files wherever you are, which is particularly useful for reviewing things while commuting.
By downloading a smartphone-side copy of chosen Google Docs, you can keep up to date on all your projects.
Image credit: daboost / iStockPhoto