Best of the year: Productivity & work app recommendations from our team

By Chloe Mark | November 2016

Although in the age of the internet and mobile apps, these technologies have often been blamed for distractions and other such negative effects, it is simultaneously true they have the ability to make us more productive. As you'll read below and maybe have experienced yourself, they can even make us healthier people.

Our team of web developers and strategist love to gush about such tools. Read through their favs and how these productivity and health apps have helped them be more mindful, productive and happy people both at work and in life.

Best Productivity Apps:


App: Focus Booster


Image source: Focus Booster Knowledge Base

Purpose: Provides user with a productivity timer. It uses "pomodora" timing technique which is 25 minutes of work with 5 min of "rest."

Favorite aspect: "This tool helps me break down my to-do list and just focus on one thing at a time. It forces me to put away distractions and focus solely [on one task] for 25 minutes. I find I get a lot more done when I'm not constantly checking my email, answering the phone, or worrying about my work chatline during a task. The five min break allows me to step away from my work and 'reward' myself by grabbing a snack, taking a quick walk or petting the friendly office pup."

Extra tip: "Sometimes I use this outside of work – like at home if I need to clean my room or pay some bills, I will set my timer to really get things done "

Cost: 30 day free trial then $3.00 / month

Reviewer: Annie


App: Focus@will


Image source: Focus@will

Purpose: Music service that plays tunes to help you focus and be more productive.

Favorite aspect: "Similar to the focus booster, this app puts me in a productive mood. The music flows from one piece to the next and can be customized based on my energy levels. I have always loved classical music for work or studying, but this app takes it to another level playing music that scientifically helps one focus better. Placebo effect or not, it helps me!"

Cost: Free trial, then $3.99/month

Reviewer: Annie


Best sleep aid apps:

App: Kiwake


Image source: iTunes App Store

Purpose: Uses a multi-step process to help you wake up.

Favorite aspect: "Rather than just an annoying loud alarm noise, Kiwake walks you through a wake up process. First it has you get out of bed and tracks your movement by having you take a picture of an object. Then there are simple games to help wake up your brain. Next you can review a to-do list or motivational statements before the alarm will turn off. All the features and steps are customizable as well."

Reviewer: Jenna


App: SleepCycle


Image source: Sleep Cycle

Purpose: Alarm clock - tracks your sleep cycles to help you wake up when you're not in your deepest sleep.

Favorite aspect: "SleepCycle is great because it wakes me up in my lightest cycle so i don't feel groggy in the morning. It makes waking up earlier much easier."

Reviewer: Annie


Favorite exercise app:

App: Nike Training


Image source: Nike

Purpose: To provide you with a workout plan and videos

Favorite aspect: "I use the NTC app when my workouts are feeling a bit dull. You can select a workout based on what type of exercise you want, what body part you want to work, the amount of time you have and the level of exertion you'd like to use. Each workout has a video paired with it so you can see one of their athletes guiding you through the exercise. You can also set up a schedule if you want a more specific regimen with targeted goals. "

Extra tip: "Even though I don't use this app for my daily workout, I can come to it whenever I'm feeling unmotivated at the gym or at home. Seeing the atheletes virtually work out with me is motivating and their exercises are creative. During the summer when I don't want to pay for a gym membership, I can use their no-equipment-necessary workouts on a rainy day."

Reviewer: Chloe


Best time (and headache) savers:

App: 1Password


Image source: 1Password

Purpose: Password Management

Favorite aspect: "This is the best password tracker out there. I've tried four different ones – this works across my phone, browser and desktop. I've been thinking about getting the office version so we can securely share some of our important passwords here, too... Well-balanced ease of use with security."

Cost: $36 / year

Reviewer: David


App: Parkmobile


Image source: Parkmobile

Purpose: Parking meter payment method in Minneapolis (to avoid "annoying" payment boxes)

Favorite aspect: "It is essential," David asserted. He and Lisa use this constantly to pay for their parking spot anytime they go out in the city.

Cost: Some transaction fees plus your parking spot cost

Reviewer: David & Lisa

Find more of our favorite apps »

Topics: Design and Technology