The Best Apps for Improving Productivity
There's an app for everything, even happiness—at least according to the latest crop of brain-training services. Want a more disciplined meditation practice? Sharper memory? Foreign language skills? Consult with your smartphone. Keep scrolling to uncover our top picks for apps to boost your cognitive efficiency and increase focus day to day. May the best mind games win.
This popular app uses short sessions of scientific games to train memory and attention. Designed by neuroscientists, the brain-teaching approach has users play against a clock after choosing games based on their objective: memory, attention, problem-solving, processing speed, or flexibility in thinking. Within the app, you can track your progress as well as compare performance against other users. The app offers limited access for free, and unlimited access with a subscription option of one month or one year.
The #1 ranked education app in more than 90 countries, Fit Brains Trainer utilizes more than 60 unique games and over 500 customized daily mental workout sessions to improve concentration and mental agility. Think of it as a gym for your mind. In fact, that’s the elevator pitch. Brought to you from the team behind Rosetta Stone, each game focuses on upping your cognitive skillset—from memory to problem-solving. For unlimited access, you can subscribe by the month or annually.
Happy minds are productive minds. Named by The New York Times as one of the top 10 brain-training apps, Happify is specifically designed to disrupt negative thought patterns, manage stress, and build feel-good skills like empathy and gratitude. Begin with a survey and wind up with a host of quizzes, games, and activities to leave you feeling more fulfilled. Who knew happy thoughts were a download away? Does it come with pixie dust?
If you dream of becoming bilingual or simply want to brush up on your conversational German, this handy app is here to offer daily rituals and super-efficient learning curve. Released in 2012 and swiftly named Apple’s Free App of the year, Duolingo was developed by Carnegie Mellon University professor Luis von Ahn and student Severin Hacker. Offering 10 languages at no cost for the user, it uses games, pictures, and video clips to teach foreign tongues. Deemed by The Wall Street Journal as “far and away the best language-learning app,” it’s a must for anyone craving a no-cost alternative to Rosetta Stone.
Apple’s 2014 App of the Year, this brain-training program can help you improve in a wide spectrum of personalized daily mind-bending workouts to boost productivity and improve everything from focus and memory to math and speaking skills. Using more than 30 games and performance tracking, developers recommend you train at least three times a week for best results. A pro subscription offers unlimited training, available in monthly, yearly, or lifetime memberships.
A daily meditation practice can balance hormones, ease stress, and improve productivity. This handy meditation tool makes quieting your mind easy and accessible each day. Featuring a range of basic meditation and mindfulness techniques, the free app allows you to connect with friends for group meditations and customize content based on your goals, from stress relief and creativity to relationships and happiness.
Taking it back old-school, this learning app uses flashcards to help you study as proficiently as possible on virtually any subject. You’ll have the option to create custom quizzes of your own as well as access user-created databases of a litany of academic topics, from anatomy to foreign languages. When you sign up, choose to use the app as either a student or a teacher. As a teacher, you’ll create quizzes and manage groups of students, granting them access to quizzes and games.
What's your favorite app for learning or productivity? Tell us below.