This is a guest post by Travis Taborek. Travis is a content marketer and copywriter based in the San Francisco Bay Area. He is a graduate of General Assembly’s Digital Marketing Bootcamp and has done SEO and content work for business ranging from small tech startups to corporations like TiVo. Read his work here.
Content marketers have their work cut out for them.
They’re tasked with generating fresh ideas for content that stimulates interest in a brand and demonstrates thought leadership consistently, frequently, and at scale.
Fortunately, there is no shortage of productivity apps out there to help keep your mind focused, your writing clear, your headlines eye-grabbing, and your calls-to-action compelling.
To help you do your best work possible, I’ll show you the 10 best productivity apps you need in your digital toolbox.
Specifically, after explaining what productivity apps are, I’ll break each app down into one of four categories – brainstorming, focus, creation, and general productivity – then highlight their features, use cases, and pricing plans.
Just read through the following sections in this guest post for Process Street:
- What is a productivity app?
- The best productivity apps for brainstorming
- The best productivity apps for focus
- The best productivity apps for creation
- The best productivity apps for general productivity
- Put the pro in productivity with Process Street!
Let’s get started! 🚀
What is a productivity app?
A productivity app, tool, or piece of software enables users to get more done in a shorter amount of time.
A productivity app can take many forms. For instance, Trello helps with conquering projects efficiently and effectively, while time-tracking business software like RescueTime aids people in optimizing their work schedules.
With this in mind, the definition of ‘productivity app’ is a rather large, broad one. However, the crux of productivity apps is that they help you to do great work, faster.
They’re not just for content marketers, either. They’re used in every line of work considering their benefits, as the team at Cloint say:
“With the effective use of online productivity tools such as internet marketing strategies, business process automation and other prolific widgets the quality of work, customer satisfaction, long-term sustainable results and employees happiness can be enriched to a very great extent.” – Cloint, 8 Benefits of using online productivity tools for business
Speaking of which, it’s time to dive into the best productivity apps around!
The best productivity apps for brainstorming 🧠
Ideas, ideas, ideas.
Content marketers need to come up with stellar ideas constantly. What complicates matters is that there are tons of other tasks that get in the way of idea processing!
That’s why the first three apps I’m introducing you to – Milanote, Evernote, and Keywords Everywhere – will help you not only come up with and find great ideas, but to document them for future usage, too.
The best productivity apps for brainstorming #1: Milanote
Milanote is quite possibly the single most useful visual productivity app I have ever encountered.
No, they didn’t pay me to say that.
I use it all the time to do everything from batching and planning social media content, to making outlines for content ideas, to creating vision boards for my dream vacation.
You can think of Milanote as a cross between a vision board and a mind map. It uses a drag-and-drop interface that you use to layout and display text, notes, images, files or whatever else you need for your project in a way that makes the most sense to you.
It’s easy to use, versatile, and has one-million-and-one different applications and use cases.
Say you need some statistics and inspiration for an infographic. You can type in “Content Marketing Statistics” into Google images, then take any relevant images you need. Milanote will save those images to the board of your choice so you can sketch out a proof of concept before you start making the actual graphic!
What Milanote can do:
- Visually organize ideas and projects into boards
- Share your boards with your team
- Use ready-made templates for marketers, designers, writers, agencies, and start-ups
- The Google Chrome Extension lets you save text and images anywhere on the web and put them into your Milanote board seamlessly
- The elegant and appealing layout makes it both easy to use and easy on the eyes!
What you can use Milanote for:
- Draw up an SEO brief, do a study on your competitors to reverse-engineer their strategy, and draw up some deliverables
- Use their social media templates to outline a multi-channel strategy and plan content weeks in advance
Milanote plans and pricing (subject to change):
- Free version: 100 notes, images or links, upload up to 10 files and share unlimited boards
- Professional ($9.99/month, billed annually): Everything on the free plan, plus unlimited notes, images, and files with no time limit.
The best productivity apps for brainstorming #2: Evernote
You know the expression “an elephant never forgets”?
Well, this is the productivity app that embodies that concept.
Evernote is possibly the best note-taking app on the market. It allows you to have your notes backed up to the cloud and accessible across all of your devices so you can access them anytime, anywhere.
One of the first things I do as part of my writing process is pull up Evernote and spend an hour writing the outline before even getting to the first draft.
But the ways in which you can use Evernote is unlimited.
For instance, how about those business cards you collect at all those networking events and conferences you go to in the same way a Pokemon trainer collects Pokemon?
Just digitize those business cards in Evernote, keep those phone numbers and emails stored, and throw the physical versions away!
Here are some of the highlights and potential use-cases.
What Evernote can do:
- Organize your notes into notebooks, tags, and stacks
- Save PDFs, images, text, and audio recordings all on one app
- Backup all your notes and access them whenever you need them – forever
What you can use Evernote for:
- Digitize your documents and have them fully searchable
- Use handy, built-in templates for your meeting notes, to-do lists, and project planners
- Sync your notes across all your devices, then access them from your laptop, phone, or tablet – wherever you are
Evernote plans and pricing (subject to change):
- Evernote Basic (Free): Takes notes and… that’s about it. Evernote Basic gives you a monthly upload limit of 60MB and lets you sync on two devices.
- Evernote Premium ($7.99/mo.): Share your notes, scan and digitize business cards, and search for text inside PDFs.
- Evernote Business ($14.99 per user, per month): Gives you all the features that Premium does, plus gives you collaborative spaces for team projects and provides you with a bulletin board to share updates across your content marketing team.
The best productivity apps for brainstorming #3: Keywords Everywhere
Your top-of-funnel content – the content you use to generate traffic and bring people to your website so that your audience first becomes aware of you – needs to be informed by keyword research.
That’s where Keywords Everywhere comes in.
This Google Chrome extension works as an on-the-go keyword research tool you can use to find keywords to help you research and come up with new ideas for blog content quickly and easily. It allows you to enter a keyword to seed from, and it gives you long-tail variations within seconds.
And here’s the really neat part: If you download their Google Chrome extension, it will you show you a keyword’s monthly search volume, competition score, and CPC whenever you type it into Google’s search bar. It’ll also provide you the same information for any long-tail variations that you can easily export into a .csv file. Needless to say, it’s fantastic for SEO.
What Keywords Everywhere can do:
- 10X your keyword research by getting the SEO metrics for a keyword and its long-tail variations instantly, and turn that information into content that grows your business by providing value
- Get Google Ads/SEM metrics like CPC and competition score
What you can use Keywords Everywhere for:
- Generate content ideas quickly: Find out what keywords your audience is using to find you and gauge your chances of ranking for them
- Incorporate into your SEM campaigns to boost your content’s visibility: Use those same keywords in Google Search Ads to drive more traffic to your content
Keywords Everywhere plans and pricing (subject to change):
For information on Keywords Everywhere’s pricing and plan options, check out the quote below!
“Free users: Keywords Everywhere shows you “related” keywords as well as “people also search for” keywords in widgets on the right hand side of Google & Bing. They also see the YouTube search insights widget, as well as the YouTube Tags widget.
The best productivity apps for focus ⚡️
The modern world can be hectic – and so can the modern workplace.
With a lot to think about (and get distracted by), focusing on work is a common issue for today’s workforce.
But the two apps mentioned here – Focus Keeper and Calm – will help you keep focused. Always.
The best productivity apps for focus #1: Focus Keeper
Do you have trouble focusing for more than 25 minutes at a time without getting ants in your pants? If so, then this is the productivity app for you.
Focus Keeper is a productivity app that helps you stay productive without burning yourself out.
The concept behind Focus Keeper is based on the Pomodoro Technique. This time management technique was developed by productivity expert Francesco Cirillo in the 1980s.
Pomodoro works by giving you intervals of productivity and deep work followed by short periods of rest in-between them, ending with longer breaks every four sessions. This way, you can keep churning out content all day long without wanting to pull your hair out by the end of the day!
What Focus Keeper can do:
- Set 25-minute periods for work interspersed with five-minute breaks
- Adjust the timer with your fingers the same way you would a kitchen timer
- Set a daily goal for focus sessions
What you can use Focus Keeper for:
- Break your work into bite-sized, manageable chunks
- Get that surge of confidence whenever you meet your focus goals
Focus Keeper plans and pricing (subject to change):
- Focus Keeper is available for $1.99 on the iPhone App Store. Various versions exist on the Google Play and Microsoft App stores.
The best productivity apps for focus #2: Calm
Whether you need some ambient background noise to block out distractions so you can think straight, or something to fall asleep to when you need to unwind after a long day of work, Calm is the solution.
There are few better ways to start your day than by going through a guided meditation narrated by the soothing, trance-like voice of Calm’s Mindfulness Expert Tamara Levitt.
What Calm can do:
- Access to hundreds of hours of sleep stories, guided meditations, natural soundscapes, and soothing music
- Calm also includes natural scenes and sounds to enjoy while meditating, from windswept beaches to pristine mountain lakes and open night skies
- Calm Body videos guide you on stretching and yoga poses
- Daily Calm gives you a new guided meditation each day
What you can use Calm for:
- Put on some ambient noise to play in the background while you’re writing
- Play one of Calm’s sleep stories to drift off into la-la land when you’re all worn out from getting a content submission done
Calm plans and pricing (subject to change):
- 30-day free trial, then $59.99 billed annually
- OR get Calm for life and get all the features forever for a flat fee of $399.99
The best productivity apps for creation ✍️
Creating and marketing great content is what you do best.
But we all need a helping hand from useful, productivity-boosting apps so we can get work done as efficiently and effectively as possible.
That’s why you should use the three apps mentioned in this section – iA Writer, Grammarly, and Canva!
The best productivity apps for creation #1: iA Writer
Sometimes, less is more. At least that’s certainly the case with this writing app.
iA Writer is the best writing app I’ve come across for a while. It maximizes to fill up your entire screen, removes any distracting formatting, and filters out every sentence or paragraph other than the one you’re focusing on. It’s what I used to write out the very piece you’re reading.
Essentially, it’s a minimalist writing app that strips away the features you would normally expect from a word processor and gives you just the basics and strips away the nonessentials that clutter up your workspace.
What iA Writer can do:
- An efficient, minimalist interface
- Night mode for when you’re burning the midnight oil
- Focus mode blurs out all the words on the page except the one you’re focusing on
- Ordered and unordered lists
- Headings and hyperlinks that paste seamlessly with HTML documents
What you can use iA Writer for:
- Track your article length with iA Writer’s word and paragraph count (Google favors content with 1,500+ words according to Search Engine Land)
- Export iA Writer documents as HTML and paste content seamlessly into WordPress with the formatting already added
- Have a streamlined user experience, as iA Writer removes the clutter and helps you think clearly so you can turn your thoughts into words
iA Writer plans and pricing (subject to change):
- $19.90 for PC
- $29.90 for macOS
- $4.90 for iOS
The best productivity apps for creation #2: Grammarly
So, you wrote your first draft in iA Writer.
You’re off to a good start.
Next, you need to proofread and edit it before turning it over for submission and review.
Here, click on this link to download it.
Here’s a list of things Grammarly checks for:
- Missing articles
- Revises unclear sentences
- Integrates with Google Suite products
- Grammarly’s plug-in checks your content in text fields on most websites
What you can use Grammarly for:
- Catch typos on the fly
- Use more concise word choice
- Revise your content to make for a more natural-sounding tone
- Integrates with Google Suite – this means you can finish your first draft in iA Writer, then copy and paste into Google Docs to proofread and edit
- Grammarly will then underline and mistakes you’ve made in red
Grammarly plans and pricing (subject to change):
- Grammarly Free: Checks for critical grammar and spelling mistakes, and gives you suggestions to make your content more concise
Grammarly Premium: Same as free, but gives suggestions for readability, vocabulary enhancement, and style-checks – it also has a plagiarism checker!
The best productivity apps for creation #3: Canva
It’s amazing what a simple infographic can do to enhance your content. 32% of marketers say that infographics are the most important form of content for their business with blogging coming in at 27%, according to a study by Social Media Examiner.
Are you more of a writer than a designer, though?
That’s fine. That’s what Canva is for.
With Canva, you can easily create eye-catching graphics from Instagram stories to eBook covers in a pinch, with its drag-and-drop interface and library of hundreds of high-quality images.
Here’s what that gets you.
What Canva can do for you:
- Layouts and templates for almost every conceivable use-case
- Easy to build and design visual documents from scratch
- Photo straightener
- Image cropper
- Add text to photos
- Give your photos a fade with the transparency tool
- Drag and drop your own pictures and lay them out how you like
What you can use Canva for:
- Make visually-appealing graphics easily
- Create eBook covers to make the magnet you need for your next lead-
- generation campaign
- Put together infographics for visual storytelling, inlay them in between paragraphs to enhance your content
Canva plans and pricing (subject to change):
- Canva Basic: The free version gives you the simple drag and drop editor, two folders 1GB of storage for photos and assets, and access to 8,000 templates
- Canva Pro ($12.95 per team member per month): Unlimited folders, exclusive access to 400,000 free photos and illustrations, and some other neat stuff like the ability to upload custom fonts and export as GIFs
- Canva Enterprise: Includes everything in Pro, plus 99.9% uptime SLA
The best apps for general productivity 💪
In this final section, I’ll be introducing you to Google Keep and Trello.
These two apps are used by thriving companies all across the globe, helping their teams to be as productive as possible.
With that said, let’s understand them both in a little more detail.
The best apps for general productivity #1: Google Keep
If Milanote is a productivity app that acts like a corkboard for your laptop and Evernote is like having an external brain, then you use Google Keep the same way you would use sticky notes.
If Evernote doesn’t do it for you, then maybe you can try Google Keep to stay on top of your task lists and set yourself reminders.
What Google Keep can do:
- Make to-do lists with clickable checkboxes
- Filter and search through all your notes by color
- Set reminders based on time and location
- Sync your notes across devices, just like Evernote
What you can use Google Keep for:
- Use Evernote to sketch your outlines, then use Google Keep to break down your tasks into to-do lists
- Sync with Google Calendar to set yourself daily reminders
- Make labels for your notes to separate each of your projects
- Install the Google Keep plug-in and access it whenever you need it
Google Keep plans and pricing (subject to change):
- Google Keep is entirely free – gee, thanks Google!
The best apps for general productivity #2: Trello
A well-run content team essentially operates the same way a newsroom does. All the individual moving parts come together to make sure deadlines are met and the editorial calendar runs on time.
What Trello can do:
- Collaborative boards let you indicate who is working on what task
- Add due dates for each individual item
- Use power-apps to add additional functionality
What you can use Trello for:
- Collaborate with your team and manage your workflow. Everyone on the content team knows what everyone else is doing at any given time
- Integrate with Google Drive. Have a drop-off folder where you put your content submissions and be alerted when they’re turned in. That way, everyone on your team can provide real-time feedback and suggestions so that your content is air-tight, logically organized and fun to read
- Set up an editorial calendar with Trello’s Calendar Power-Up
Trello plans and pricing:
- Free: Unlimited personal boards, cards, lists, and 10mb per file attachment
- Business class: All the free features, plus 250mb per file attachment, priority support, unlimited team boards, and much more!
- Enterprise: All the business class features, plus advanced automations, unlimited command runs, and more
There you have it.
10 great apps to truly boost your productivity.
Before closing out, it’s also worth noting that a business functions because of the processes which support it.
Therefore, you need to have systems and processes in place to ensure that your content:
- Reflects what your customers are searching for
- That it’s made in a brand voice that’s consistent and presented in a way that appeals to them
- Has a logical flow that makes sense
- Compels the reader to go further down a path that leads to them making a purchase
- And that everyone on your team is following these processes for creating stellar content!
To help you take control of your processes, workflows, and your productivity, I’ve got one more app – which is the best BPM software on the market – for you…
Put the pro in productivity with Process Street! 🚀
Process Street is superpowered checklists.
For a quick visual explainer on the checklist app, check out the video below.
With Process Street, you don’t make run-of-the-mill checklists.
You can create state-of-the-art checklists, thanks to incredible workflow features, such as:
- Stop tasks. ✋
- Conditional logic. 🧠
- Task permissions. 👀
- Task assignments. 👤
- Role assignments. 👥
- Embed widget. 🌐
- Webhooks. 🎣
- Approvals. ✅
To deep dive into some of these features, watch the following webinar.
To help you get started with Process Street, there are several ready-made templates created by Process Street’s content team that you can get started with straight away.
As a content marketer, these templates will help you create the best content you’ve ever made.
So, what’re you waiting for?
Sign up for free and add these templates to your account now!
- Advanced Content Promotion Checklist
- Ari Meisel’s How to Automate Podcast Production Process
- Ari Meisel’s How to Develop a Content Distribution Machine Guide
- Blog Idea Processing Checklist
- Content Promotion Checklist
- Creating a Newsletter
- How to Create a Content Upgrade with Process Street
- How to Write a High Converting Sales Page
- Marketing Weekly To Do List Template
- Newsletter Template Process
- Peer-Editing Checklist for Bloggers
- SEO Checklist: The Keyword Research Process
- Submitting content to social bookmarking sites
With all those apps and the free Process Street templates, it’s time to create amazing content. 💪
What apps do you use to stay organized, focused, motivated, and creative? I’d love to hear your suggestions via the comment section below! 💡