Software & Apps Apps The 10 Best Productivity Apps of 2020 These PC apps will help you get things done By Jody Emlyn Muelaner Writer Dr. Jody Muelander is a former freelance contributor to Lifewire who's writing has appeared in peer-reviewed journals and aerospace industry reports. our editorial process Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Jody Emlyn Muelaner Updated January 31, 2020 Apps Best Apps Tweet Share Email Productivity means getting more done. Your core tools are often task specific. If you’re writing a report you’ll need a word processor and if you’re designing a car you’ll need computer-aided design software. What most jobs have in common, is the need to plan tasks, schedule, and keep notes. This article looks at some of the best Windows productivity apps to organize your projects and get things done. 01 of 10 Microsoft Outlook: The Industry Standard for Best Organization Apps What We Like Powerful system integrates calendar, tasks, notes, and email Tried and tested format Categories can be used for GTD contexts, projects etc. Complex filters Sync with mobile devices Notes can be used to quickly capture ideas for processing later What We Don't Like Can get overly complex GTD setup is a bit of a hack Outlook is by far the most popular calendar and email system in the business world. It follows the tried and tested productivity combination of calendar, tasks, notes, and contacts. It has been possible to synchronize this type of data across mobile devices for many years, starting with the Psion Organiser in 1984 and continuing with Blackberries. Features such as categories allow you to tag and filter items in pretty much any way you might like, making it a powerful tool for getting things done. A common system is to prefix contexts with the '@' sign, for example, "@home," or "@work." This means you can quickly filter your task list to see only tasks that are relevant at a particular time. Get a Free Microsoft Outlook, Account Download Outlook for Windows 02 of 10 Google Calendar: Free Alternative Productivity Software What We Like Simple and easy to use Great for shared calendars What We Don't Like Lack of task categories makes GTD difficult Google suite provides a much simpler calendar and task system than the one in Outlook. Google Calendar can make it easier to use although it isn’t possible to use categories for a proper GTD implementation period. The cloud-based system is great for shared calendars. Get Google Calendar 03 of 10 CompanionLink: Sync Data Between PC and Phone Productivity Apps What We Like Sync Outlook to Android or iOS Complete sync including categories Sync custom fields What We Don't Like It costs $49.95 just to sync your phone Further costs for cloud based sync To keep all your data synchronized between Outlook on PC and your phone, CompanionLink is the best app. Most other solutions will only sync some of your data, so features such as categories may not be synchronized. CompanionLink syncs everything in the standard Outlook database and even allows you to configure custom fields. Get Companionlink 04 of 10 Microsoft Project: For Serious Project Management What We Like Industry standard project management Schedule critical activities Balance resource allocation What We Don't Like Steep learning curve Can be time consuming Complex projects involve multiple activities happening at the same time, activities that can’t start until others are completed, and multiple resources that must be allocated. For this type of project management, Microsoft Project is the industry standard. However, while it’s a powerful piece of software, it can be time-consuming. Download Microsoft Project 05 of 10 Google Keep: For Keeping Post-it Notes in the Cloud What We Like Flexible visual note taking Create reusable checklists Set reminders by time or location What We Don't Like Locations must be a single location Google Keep has been designed to look like post-it notes, but it does a lot more than that, as it also supports sketches, photos, text, and lists. It's available online, primarily for PC use, and it syncs to Android and iOS. Reminders can be set by time or location, but it can only be a single location. It's also a shame this feature isn't better integrated with Google Maps—it would be great to be able to say "remind me at a gas station." Get Google Keep 06 of 10 Windows Sticky Notes: An Alternative to Notepad What We Like Simple, distraction-free note taking Sync with Android What We Don't Like No iPhone sync Sticky Notes are a Windows 10 feature enabling users to make text notes that reformat to fit a window of any size, much like a text file in Notepad. It's possible to apply a bit more formatting, such as bullet points, but the biggest difference is everything is stored in one location and can be synced with an Android device. Get Sticky Notes 07 of 10 SimpleMind: A Great MindMapping Productivity App What We Like Visual notes Structured hierarchy Sync accross all platforms What We Don't Like Presentation might get in the way of ideas MindMapping is a way of brainstorming and note-taking designed to resemble the way the brain works, and is said to improve memory and creativity. SimpleMind capitalizes on this by enabling users to create MindMaps on Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS. Created and finished maps can be synced via Dropbox or Google Drive, so you can access them from any device. Get SimpleMind 08 of 10 Trello: Productivity Software That Brings Kanban Boards to the Cloud What We Like Simple visual system Great for distributed teams that need to visualize their workload What We Don't Like Doesn't do complex scheduling and resource levelling like Microsoft Project Doesn't allow context reminders like GTD in Outlook Kanban uses visual cards to keep sight of the jobs you need to do. Trello, however, replaces cards on a physical board with a digital Kanban board that lives in the cloud. This is great for distributed teams who need to keep track of what they're doing, while also being aware of what other teams are up to. Get Trello 09 of 10 Microsoft Excel: Simplicity with Calculation What We Like Simple and flexible for planning Easily calculate workload and schedule What We Don't Like No reminders Microsoft Excel has many uses for organizing data and performing calculations. It can also be a great tool for planning projects and scheduling time; you can easily list tasks, together with the time required to complete them. Excel can then quickly calculate the total time required, as well as target start and finish times. It’s easy to cut-and-paste tasks and adjust times as you plan your project. Get Microsoft Excel 10 of 10 Windows Notepad: For When You Want Simplicity What We Like Simple distraction free notes Flexible Included free with Windows Text reformats to fit in any sized window What We Don't Like Doesn't automate anything Doesn't sync with mobile devices When it comes to brainstorming and structuring a plan, simpler is often better, and you can’t get simpler than Notepad. There are few tools that give you such a pure way to get your thoughts down in writing, without being distracted by formatting or software features. Another huge benefit of Notepad over other apps is text reformats to fit a window of any size, allowing you to make the most of whatever space is available on your desktop. It’s easy to forget about Notepad, as it’s been there since the very first version of Windows in 1985, but sometimes you can’t beat the original.