Useful Apps for the Productivity Ninja

Another post by guest blogger and author of “How to be a Productivity Ninja”, Graham Allcott.

Graham introduces different tools for productivity, many of which he uses in his own business. I have blogged about using Evernote which I use as an academic research tool, but as Graham states, it can do so much more.

Mobile apps are great tools to assist our thinking and organizing. When choosing which ones to use, check out as many YouTube videos, customer reviews, screenshots and product tours as you can, all of which will give you a good feel for the style, value and functionality of each app. Here are my top picks (I have no commercial incentive to endorse any of these, so this list is completely objective).


This has been the app of choice in the Think Productive office for a while now. It certainly doesn’t have the prettiest interface (especially its iPad app, which is quite dull), but the website interface is very easy to use, it synchronizes perfectly between phone and website and it has everything you need. The web version is free and the iPhone and iPad apps are no more than a couple of pounds to buy. Toodledo keeps it simple and functional and we love it!


Todoist has many admirers and works on many different platforms. One of Think Productive’s Productivity Ninjas, Lee, is a Todoist obsessive. The website has a clear but colourful drag-and-drop design, and its phone and tablet apps are perhaps slightly better than Toodledo’s. It also has a really nice range of other features such as plug-ins to integrate directly with different browsers, email systems and calendars.  Again, the free account gives you everything you need, and the phone and tablet apps are free too, but there’s a subscription of around £18 (around $30) per year for some of the advanced features.


Headspace is not only a great personal tool, but it’s what we use at TPHQ for our daily meditation. Run by a guy who used to be a Buddhist Monk, it’s a friendly companion to anyone who wants to learn meditation or keep up a daily practice. And the main feature on the free one is called ‘take 10’ – it takes just 10 minutes a day, and really makes a difference.


Xero is a finance app which allows me to manage the entire finances of my business from my phone. I can track invoices and balances, and even do my bank reconciliation on the move. It links to Xero’s web-based book-keeping and accountancy software, which is currently developing a reputation as the best in the business. It even takes your statements and transactions directly from your bank account using a feed, so no more uploading statements for me! Not one for everyone (sorry!) but if you use this kind of thing, you need to switch to Xero!


In truth, Evernote wasn’t built solely as a productivity tool and its list management capabilities are (currently) limited. But I have seen people customize Evernote to be a great list manager alongside all the other cool things that it does. We’re told that the future of Evernote will be the development of more productivity elements to go alongside its status as the best ‘digital filing cabinet’ out there.

There’s something really exciting about the thought of managing your lists right in the same program as a lot of the supporting materials relating to those projects and actions and it’ll certainly be worth keeping an eye on it in the next couple of years as it could seriously steal the show!


iPadio is a great little tool I use to record conference calls or just general audio to listen to again later. Basically, you log in to the app, then you make the call and when you finish, iPadio saves the whole thing as a file on its website (its idea is that you can make ‘instant radio stations’, which to be honest I don’t really understand the need for, but there’s an option to set all the files to private, too!).


From the complex to the utterly simple, this app has become a real favourite for me.  Recommended by embodiment training specialist Mark Walsh, the app reminds you to take stress-busting pauses from your work. During the pauses, you follow a simple ‘centering’ process – like a mini-mindfulness exercise – that takes just 20 seconds. Its reminders pop up on your phone at seemingly random times of the day, and you spend just 20 seconds reconnecting with your body and the world around you – forgetting the swirls of stress and ideas buzzing around your head. Utterly simple, very effective.

Graham Allcott is the author of “How to be a Productivity Ninja” and founder of Think Productive, a training company specialising in productivity, time management and email training.


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