4 iPhone Productivity Apps You Should Be Using


When I’m hit by a burst of inspiration or need to quickly look up some important note, I want lightning-fast access. The native iPhone Notes app pauses every time it opens to update the date notes were last edited with reference to the current date. This annoying and pointless pause has caused me to lose more than one flash of inspiration. Plus, Notes doesn’t sync to the cloud.

Yet Notes is hundreds of times better than Evernote, which is endlessly praised as the category leader. Evernote is slow, bulky, and poorly organized. It does not store files locally unless you mark them as favorites. It doesn’t remember where you were last time you used it. I have to push too many buttons and wait too long to get to the functionality I want.

Enter Simplenote. All I want is an note-taking app that opens quickly, lets me type or look up information quickly, and syncs with the cloud. Simplenote does all that flawlessly. You can even edit notes through the browser of your computer (you can do this through Evernote also). The UI is intuitive, sleek, and extremely functional.

Summary: Simplenote is the note-taking app that Apple should have built.

Daily Deeds

If you set goals, you need Daily Deeds. The app is simple and extremely well-designed. Add a list of your daily goals. They’ll all appear on a nice grid which allows you to put a check mark next to them when you’ve finished the task. You can track progress of a goal in a month view. You can even email your results.

Summary: Hands-down the best app for tracking daily progress of a goal.

Smart List

The App Store is overwhelmed with to-do apps, lists, and outlines. I downloaded every single one of them. You could call me a bit of a productivity fanatic. In the real world, my usual tool is a 3×5 notecard, but I’ve been slowly moving task management to the cloud.

The biggest problem with most to-do apps is that they only display 6-8 items on the screen. On a notecard that size, I could easily fit 14-18. I make to-do lists so I can review, prioritize, and execute my tasks. If I can only see 6-8 at a time, I can’t review and prioritize them all in a glance.

After much searching, I found Smart Time, a productivity app which automatically schedules your tasks into your day. The only feature of the app I used was its task list – I could fit 18 tasks on one page!

The company later released Smart List, a lightweight app that also maximizes use of screen real estate. It’s the best simple list app out there.

Summary: Finally, a (task) list management app that takes advantage of the screen real estate.

Google Tasks

If I love Smart List so much, why is Google Tasks on this list? To be completely forthright, I no longer use Smartlist (although I cannot bring myself to delete it from my phone). I needed one place to store all my tasks, which meant that I needed somthing which would sync between my phone and computer. Google Tasks does that. I’m logged into Gmail all day long, and it’s convenient for me to add tasks through the interface there.

Like the majority of Google mobile products, Google Tasks does not have a separate app. It’s accessed through a sleek mobile interface using Safari. Is it perfect? No. But it works.

Summary: An imperfect yet convenient cloud-based task list solution.

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  • Brooke January 21, 2011 at 10:56 am

    My favorite feature of smart list is the grocery store list. You only need to add items once and then it will remain on the list unless you delete it. With simple highlight, strike-through and reset options you have a great list that you can use every week.

  • Jeff May 31, 2013 at 9:21 am

    What about Must Do Today?