With only days until the end of 2019, people are already chalking up their New Year’s resolution. For some, it’s hitting the gym more often. Others stay on the path of getting rid of all noxious and obnoxious friends. But, for myself, I am just content with finding more ways to keep doing more and worrying less (perhaps laying off the fourth cup of coffee).

This article is dedicated to all those wonderful people out there who just want to stay awesome at what they’re doing. So, if you’re feeling then you’re less than productive, below the par and all that or badly want a resolution you can keep, take a quick look at my article about the best productivity apps you should definitely try out in 2020. Enjoy the article and careful with that extra glass of wine or champagne at the New Year’s Eve party.

Best productivity apps rundown

1. Todoist

The first resolution before the end of the year: checking every item off your to-do list. It’s important to stay organized, no matter where you are or what you do. However, in an organization where every task is marked as “urgent”, it’s very difficult to figure out what your next step should be.

So, for all you 9-to-5ers who are struggling to keep all those deadlines, I give you Todoist, one of the best-rated task management and productivity tool.

Those familiar with task-focusing apps like Asana will know just how much of a difference the right tool can make, especially when you are flooded by tasks. Todoist is compatible with all platforms (macOS, Microsoft Windows, Android, and iOS) and can also run on some wearables such as Apple Watch or Wear OS.

The GUI’s very intuitive works both online and offline and come with a smart color code system that helps you assign priorities to the tasks at hand.

Other useful features: favorite projects, recurring tasks, ability to create new sections and add subtasks, delegate tasks to team members, receive desktop or on-top phone notifications, draw up productivity charts, check the project’s status and many more.

Todoist can also be synced with third-party apps like Slack or Dropbox. Finally, this application is free for use and scalable enough to suit any enterprise needs. However, if you plan on deploying it on every machine, including BYODs, you may want to purchase the premium version which has additional features.

2. Habitica

What if life is one big RPG game, where you need to complete quests to earn experience and money? It certainly feels like it sometimes, but without magic, dragons, monsters, and epic battles.

What if we took everything out of RPG games (completing quests, leveling up, earning cash, unlocking new abilities) and apply them into real life? The result is Habitica, a gamified habit-building and productivity tool that makes you feel just like a video game hero.

It sounds too boring to create a memo about drinking water every hour? No problem – Habitica will transform this into an epic quest, with rewards and everything. One can say that Habitica is the best example of gamification.

The interface resembles an 8-Bit dungeon-crawling game for smartphones. The hero aka your charming little self, has a health bar (which can increase or decrease depending on how well you abide by your daily habits), an experience bar (fills up each time you complete a ‘quest’) and even an energy/mana bar which slowly drains as the day draws to an end.

Like any habit-building app, Habitica allows you to customize your daily routine, send you reminders if you skipped one or more, and display stats at the end of the day. The rewards earned by completing a task can be used to unlock new items for your avatar (clothes, weapons, trinkets).

Habitica can be used in any type of environment: home, school, and even work. The app has powerful task management tools and widgets, which are guaranteed to spare you a lot of trouble.

Habitica is a great open-source tool, free of charge, but you can keep the project alive by spending real money on gems (that’s the app’s currency) and items.

It supports third-party APIs and can be synced with many third-party apps such as WordPress, QuickToDo, Firefox, Trello, Zapier, and even Microsoft Flow.

3. Timeular

Punch clocks may very well belong in the past, but they need to keep tabs on the employee’s activity is still around. So, how you eyeball someone without making him or her feel uncomfortable?

Try Timeular, a truly unique time-tracker that benefits both employer and employee. On the staff managing side, the app gives you a granular and bird’s eye view on everything that’s happening in your team, from completed tasks to delays and priority requests.

Employees using Timeular will have to gain a better understanding of how they spend time at work: lunch breaks, cigarette and coffee breaks, YouTube and Facebook time, reading & replying to emails, doing research.

Why is it unique though? Timeular’s ‘powers’ come from combining the old with the new. The time- and task-managing application is actually backed up by an odd-looking contraption that closely resembles one of those D&D dices. It’s actually a nine-face dice and, according to its makers, it makes task-tracking really easy.

The Tracker can be paired with any machine in a matter of seconds via Bluetooth and, once you’ve finished setting up your online account you can start taking advantage of Timeular. Each surface has a chalkboard-like texture, allowing you to write whatever crosses your mind.

Actually, that how it works: you write a task of each face with a non-permanent marker, sync them with the app, and that’s it.  Each time you flip the ‘dice’, the app will start recording the time spent on the activity that’s written on that particular face.

Timular’s sole caveat is Its lack of free features. They have three pricing tiers, each with its own features. However, if you found the Tracker useful, you can always go full pro for a not-so-moderate free. This is a one-time fee and you get to keep the device.

Other useful features: third-party integration (Toggl, JIRA, Harvest), data exports, dashboard, cross-platform compatibility (Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS), reminders & notifications, analytics, and many more.

4. Freedom

Freedom is the Liberty Bell of task-focusing applications; no crack in it, though, but a fantastic solution to a distraction-free workday. Ever felt like you’re not getting enough out of your day because your attention seems to be all over the place?

Even the best of us lose our way, especially if our workload is overwhelming. Facebook, YouTube, Netflix, Snapchat, and Insta are, no doubt, great kills switches, but we tend to overdo it; and, most of the time, we don’t even realize just how much time we spend on these distractions.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a freelancing looking for ways to boost your productivity or an overzealous project manager. Freedom is a great way to ensure that all tasks are done with time to spare. The app can be easily deployed on just any machine, regardless of OS.

From there, all you have to do is to select your work machines, settle on work schedules, and save your changes. During work hours, Freedom will block all distracting apps and websites. You can choose which apps and sites to block from a pre-defined list or you can add your own.

Other useful features: Locked Mode (apps and websites are blocked during workhours. Select Locked Mode to supersede this feature. Extends blocked mode indefinitely.), whitelisting, advanced scheduling (recurring blocks), customizable blocklists, sync across all devices, dashboard, and a full trail audit.

5. Coggle

Brainstorming is the beating heart of every creational process. Oftentimes we engage in various activities just to get those creative juices flowing, mind-mapping being among one of them. It’s, more or less, like a diorama, where you have a central concept and stemming ideas.

Usually, this kind of exercise requires a pen-and-paper approach, but we kind of end up losing them and the brilliant ideas we came up with. So, if you want to keep track of these brainstorming sessions, Coggle is the way to go – a fantastic information-storage app, with an emphasis on visual processes.

It’s light, easy to use, and, most importantly, the free version can help you map out an idea in a matter of seconds. Of course, if you want to make the best out of your online collaboration, pitch for the Organization pricing tier, which unlocks tons of powerful features. Coggle makes chalkboards and paper look like things that belong behind a museum case.

Other useful features: cloud sync, cross-platform compatibility, thousands of free icons and diagrams, dashboard, bulk export, auto-arrange function, import/export text and .mm, export for Visio, shared folders, ability to upload high-resolution images, branded diagrams, full audit trail, and more.

Work smart. Stay Safe!

Working smart involves a lot of things: being kind to yourself, knowing when too much is too much, accepting criticism, staying away from potential toxic co-workers, and, above all, learning proper cybersecurity hygiene. Here are a couple of tips on how to stay safe online (and offline) in 2020.

1. Double-check app before deploying on machines

A solid piece of advice for sysadmins looking to make easier for all employees. Before downloading and deploying any software, ensure that it’s legit. Read reviews, contact the software vendor, and use a VM to perform a behavioral test on the app prior to deployment. That way, you can rule out potentially harmful applications.

2. Only sysadmins should have elevated privileges

Avoiding malicious apps is a full-time job, but the jobs become increasingly difficult knowing that, more than often, employees are the ones who pop open Pandora’s Box. That’s why it’s important to restrict the users’ privileges.

If you’re in charge of a handful of machines, it’s easy to enforce these restrictions, but what do you do if the enterprise has hundreds or thousands of workstations, not counting BYODs?

PAM or privileged access management is the answer to your problem.

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3. Ensure that your antivirus/antimalware solution is running and up-to-date

As an employee, you should make of habit out of checking your AM/AV solution. Ensure that it’s still running and that the malware database is up to date. If the license has expired or the agent has stopped working, disconnect from the Internet, and contact your sysadmin as soon as possible to prevent a malware infiltration.

Wrap-up

From where I stand, the best New Year’s Eve resolution would be to change your work habits. Stay safe on the web, be productive, don’t forget about your health, and spend as much as possible in awesome company. Happy New Year everyone!

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