Become an Unstoppable Force with these Top 5 Productivity Apps


- Lance Johnson 01.07.2016

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Web developers are used to running on empty before they ever consider taking a break. While this may seem like the standard in their industry, becoming productive and efficient doesn’t require the loss of your sanity. In fact, all you need to do is download and install a productivity app to gain more control over your projects and your time. To give you a nudge in the right direction, here are the top five apps used by today’s top developers.

#1: Pivotal Tracker

Since 2006, Pivotal Labs has been working on and improving Pivotal Tracker to facilitate constructive communication between clients and developers. Through this app, developers can also handle emails and meetings necessary for reconciling shifting requirements without affecting the deadline. In addition, all work is viewable on one screen regardless of project. In fact, the user interface acts as a live infographic, radiating your projects’ status and allowing you to focus on your priorities.

As for your workflow, the tracker makes it easier for teams to adopt and maintain a more agile process. You have panels and story functionality that maximizes your efficiency and allows your team to track velocity. However, you may want to opt for a paid package opposed to the free version as the latter supports only three users and does not guarantee good support.

#2: PlanningPoker.com

A digital card game of sorts, PlanningPoker.com is designed to help agile teams estimate the effort necessary to complete user stories and actively forecast work. It’s an interesting way to help your team meet its set of priorities. At the beginning of a sprint, the team meets up for a sprint-planning meeting to estimate how much effort will be needed to complete a prioritized feature set. The features (a.k.a. stories) are compiled into a sprint backlog and ultimately establish a sprint velocity (average effort points in a single spring), which team members then use to forecast future sprint work. PlanningPoker.com helps estimating sessions efficiently and effectively.

In addition to being flexible enough to be used on all mobile devices, you can choose from card deck pointing scales (e.g. Fibonacci) to help your team route the way they prefer. You can also add user stories as you see fit, protect project information by registering, and view, accept or edit the immediate score average. One thing you may need to take into consideration is that implementing PlanningPoker may cause your developers to become addicted to the ‘game’, decreasing their productivity without someone in the lead.

#3: Google Docs

Google Docs is one of the best productivity suites available on the web. Used by professionals across all industries, the cloud based office suite allows teams to edit a range of documents, spreadsheets, and presentations in their native format. For web developers, it can be used for facilitating communication between team members and clients. Recently, Google beefed up its suite with new productivity tools such as an Explore feature for sheets, a Refresh feature for Forms, and the option to See New Changes. Improvements have also been made to the voice transcription feature, which now supports over 40 languages.

However, keep in mind that Google Docs isn’t a total replacement for your current office suite. This means that it has many shortcomings in comparison with Microsoft Office. For instance, you won’t be able to find out the word count of a document regardless of whether you’re using Docs on your mobile or desktop. Still, if you have several types of devices across your team, this is one of the best productivity tools available.

#4: Trello

You’re probably familiar with Trello as it has been a great success with end users. Created by Frog Creek Software Inc., Trello offers individuals and teams an easy yet powerful tool to organize tasks, lists, and projects. Regardless of whether you use this tool via mobile or online, your data will remain synced and actually look the same on every platform. In fact, you’ll feel as if you’re interacting with an app since that’s how the software was designed.

As a productivity tool, Trello is almost perfect. Not only will it not distract you as you work, its real time updates are quite fast, ensuring that you never miss a project. You can also identify issues and assign a team member to each easily to resolve them quickly while you tackle the rest. However, there are a few things that you should be aware of. For starters, it isn’t as strong as other project management tools out there since it has no Gantt graph or a calendar. Moreover, you cannot write documents as the app only supports simple descriptions.

#5: Productivity Owl

If there’s one thing that can affect developers’ productivity, it’s the appeal of other websites and online services such as Facebook and Buzzfeed. Thirsty for all kinds of knowledge, developers can easily be distracted by various sites and articles. This is where Productivity Owl can be very helpful. A Google Chrome extension, the owl follows every page you visit and actually closes tabs if you’re unproductive. You can decide which pages to block or allow, schedule your free time hours to take a break, and even save pages for later to prevent the owl from closing them once the timer’s up.

What further makes this solution fun is the fact that you’ll need to go to extreme lengths to earn the owl’s respect. You won’t get to know about these right away, but don’t disable the extension or else your respect score will reset itself to zero again. However, as great as all this sounds, remember that this avian is heartless, so you won’t get any chances to be less productive throughout the day.

Try out each of these five applications now to give your productivity the boost it needs to excel in your field. Start satisfying your clients and earning more from your projects! 

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