Productivity tools have come on leaps and bounds in recent years, as app developers have found brilliantly intuitive ways of helping you out with time management. If you experiment and find the mobile and web apps that work best for you, you can genuinely turn your phone into the most useful kind of personal assistant.
A personal assistant is particularly useful during the gut-churning, soul-destroying, motivation-crunching stage of your life when you’re searching for a job. Talent Cupboard has compiled a list of the 10 best productivity tools to get you through the struggle.
If you’re starting to become sluggish in your job search, there’s no better tool to force yourself to stay productive. Sign up to Beeminder and you’ll have stinging consequences for not meeting your goals.
After you fail a goal once you’ll have to start pledging real money to try again. This can obviously be dangerous so you’ll have to be serious about your goals before getting started. You could set yourself the target of applying to a certain number of jobs a day, or writing a specific number of words for application forms.
You could have other goals alongside, such as spending some time browsing job boards, sending out a number of tweets to engage with employers, or finding and going to a networking event twice a week.
The great thing about Beeminder is the detail it gives you in its tracking reports. Programmer and writer Nick Winter pledged over $7,000 to make himself write his book The Motivation Hacker. Fortunately for him, he finished on time.
Sunrise is more visually appealing than your average calendar app, allowing you to easily organise the lengthy periods of time you’ll spend on your job hunt.
Sunrise syncs with your existing Google Calendar, iCloud and Exchange calendars, with background syncing, quick event entry, reminders, time zone support, location tagging and more.
Upcoming meetings and reminders are listed in one easy-to-read interface, which saves having to navigate between segregated calendar and reminders apps like those offered by Apple.
To conquer your to-dos, Todoist lets you create projects and add tasks to them, which can then be nested into other tasks, and dragged around the screen to be reordered in the hierarchy.
For example, you can create a project called ‘application for Tesco marketer’, a task called ‘research company culture of marketing division’ and a subtask called ‘find online profiles or statements of students who entered this graduate scheme’. You can colour code your tasks and satisfyingly check off anything that’s done.
Todoist is free to download but getting a premium account will allow you to add notes to tasks, search for tasks, see and filter completed tasks and integrate the deadlines set in Todoist with iCalendar. However, premium is expensive and a free account is already sufficient for staying organised with a job hunt.
A beautifully designed to-do list and scheduling app, Timeful crams in a few more features besides letting you create tasks and lists. The events and tasks you create on Timeful can be synced with your calendars, and colour coded tasks make it very easy to categorise.
Timeful’s best feature is that it allows you to set new ‘habits’ that you want to pick up, complete with recommended duration and scheduling. Like an annoying yet necessary life coach, Timeful learns from your scheduling and automatically helps you to create tasks, learning as you use it more and more.
On your job hunt, It would be beneficial to use this app to schedule how long you’ll spend on each application and on searching for new jobs before taking a lunch break.
When stuck at home and facing a continuous stream of rejections over the internet, a job hunt can be hugely demoralising, and may cause you to forget about the basic habits you should be keeping up on a daily basis.
To make sure that you remember to wash your face, floss, do push-ups, take vitamins etc. this app is great for keeping track of those small, annoying habits. Don’t let your job hunt take over your life. Staying healthy will keep you happy and motivated.
Furthermore, Habitica is actually fun to use. You can create and customise an in-game avatar to represent you, and input real life tasks that affect your avatar’s health, experience and gold. These things are boosted when you complete tasks, allowing you to unlock more features and rewards.
Bad habits will drain your health and eventually cause your avatar to die. (Although the real-life experience doesn’t usually escalate that quickly.) Habitica turns your life into a game that almost makes you excited about brushing your teeth.
This is one of the most popular cross-platform note-taking services. The free version lets users take and upload 60MB (per month) worth of notes, pictures, video and audio snippets to be organised into cloud notebooks that can be synced across different devices. Paid accounts allow more options.
Even with Microsoft’s OneNote and Google Keep, Evernote has held its own due to a slick design and great functionality. It’s perfect for tapping in links and phone numbers, to-do lists and half-finished song lyrics, as well as story drafts and personal statements. I’m not exactly an ideas person but after just sixth months I have over 100 notes.
Freely available on Android and iOS, Trello is a digital bulletin board that allows you and your team (or whoever you add in) to set up anything from tasks, notes, lists and more. The lists are highly customisable and can be filled up with cards, which can include all kinds of content, and can be dragged around all over the place.
All of this can be shared with other users, with provisions for assigning new tasks and adding cards and comments. The neutral and simple design makes it perfect for any kind of organisational task.
You may want to keep track of all the jobs you’ve applied to by using Excel, but this is a more fun and simple way of doing that. You can categorise job opportunities by the status of your application, and you could easily drag around the job ops when the status changes.
You can also compile lists of resources useful for researching the companies, and add images and videos to help you visualise where you could be working. This is a great way of making your job hunt self-motivating and creative.
Refresh is a brilliant iOS app that can be used to ease the whole process of interviewing and networking. Meeting new people can be terrifying, especially when they can influence your career and you don’t know much about them. Using this app can dramatically lower the chances of embarrassing situations in which you appear to not know your stuff.
Refresh will intuitively check your calendar for meetings and use Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, among other sources, to retrieve background information on the people you’re meeting. It will even remind you when you first met, who may have introduced you and what your key email communications have been.
On top of its beautiful design, it also notifies you of upcoming meetings and tells you to check for its insights on the people you’re meeting. Overall, the app allows you to prepare for meetings in record time.
Arguably the most essential app for anyone with a computer, Dropbox was the main service that gave birth to the cloud storage boom. It keeps your files backed up and synced across all devices, as well as on the web.
You can always log in to Dropbox and send a document to the printer no matter where you typed it out. This document may be a job application, or some research on a company, or some preparation notes for an interview.
To write these effectively, you may want to nab information from previous documents so it’s handy to have everything in one place and readily available. With Dropbox, you’re also less likely to lose documents and to have to re-write stuff if your offline storage screws up badly.
Even though you’re just sitting down and staring at your phone, with your only physical activity being the movement of your fingers across the screen, it can still be exhausting flicking from app to app. You may waste a great deal of time with repetitive Internet tasks, or going back and forth between E-mail and notes, copying and pasting addresses and hurriedly written cover letters.
IFTTT is the solution. It’s free to download and allows you to automate tasks on your Android and iOS devices. Users can create customised ‘recipes’, or tasks that are built on the command “if this, then that” – hence the name of the app.
You can create your own recipes or use what others have created, such as, ‘build a Twitter List from a specific #hashtag’ or ‘get emails for new posts from any Gumtree search’. You can find the best recipes by looking in featured and trending, and there are also themed collections that you can modify and install.
This can be useful to back up anything you write or send out, or to save any jobs you see advertised. Overall, it means less manual multitasking and a more efficient job search!