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Tuesday, May 28, 2024

6 Apps That Take the Grind out of Your Workday

Managing your tasks shouldn't be a distraction unto itself. These desk mates let your phone handle the hard stuff.

Update, February 2022: We’ve added new picks and refreshed the descriptions.


Otter is great for automatically transcribing important meetings. The transcription is not 100 percent accurate, but it’s close enough for you to understand the larger context. Clicking on a section of the transcript starts the audio file at that moment. Always be proactive and ask for consent before recording any conversation. The phone app works well for in-person meetings, but you need to have a Business-level membership to fully integrate with Zoom. Otter provides 600 minutes a month of free transcription services for meetings that last up to 30 minutes, which is plenty of assistance for less steady users. 

Price: Free


Knowing when to take a break is a crucial component of sustained productivity. Whether it’s a walk around the block or a guided meditation, have strategies prepared to ease your anxiety during hectic days. A Headspace subscription gives you access to a variety of soothing meditations. The app’s Focus tab has options tailored specifically to workplace situations. For someone who is easily distracted but enjoys a little background noise, HeadSpace’s nature soundscapes provide just enough ambience; “Cabin Downpour” and “Redwood Canopy” are personal favorites.

Price: $13 per month, $70 per year


Pocket archives web articles, news stories, and online documents into a personal library so you can read them later in the app’s distraction-free interface. Collect industry headlines, sync them to your phone, and focus as you read the articles offline. The basic service is free. For more search functions and a permanent library of saved articles, Pocket Premium costs $5 a month or $45 a year.

Price: Free


A smartphone is a wellspring of distractions, and sometimes you need encouragement to put the screen down. When setting a focus timer with Flora, the app plants a digital tree that only grows if you refrain from using your phone. It’s free to download, and Flora offers different subscription tiers if you want your successfully grown digital forest to correspond with real-world tree plantings.

Price: Free


If your Achilles’ heel is social media distractions, try automating it. Schedule your posts for the day in Buffer, then close Instagram and get back to your work or family. The app handles all the major social media platforms and gives you reports on what your followers clicked on.

Price: Free


From the people who brought you the iconic Mole­skine notebooks, this app keeps track of tasks, appointments, and reminders. Organize lists as obsessively as you want with custom color coding on Actions, and set reminders liberally if you need nudging.

Price: $2 per month, $12 per year

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