I don’t like to have a hundred different apps on my phone.

The more I have, the less benefit I get from the ones I do have.

For me, the 80/20 rule definitely applies to the apps I use on a daily basis.

I’m using [actually less than] 20% of my apps for 80% of my productivity.  And here they are…

1. Blinkist

Blinkist offers over 1,500 book summaries, with 40 new summaries each month.  And these are the good books.

Blinkist creates the best book summaries I’ve ever read.  You can use it on the website, or you can use the app on your phone.  When you use the app, you can even get the audio version of the book summary.

I never knew book summaries could be this effective.  I’ve read book summaries before, but I always felt like they were lacking.  These are different.  I have to highlight and review the summaries a few times to feel like I’ve retained most of the points.

Just to test out the quality, I went through several summaries of books that I’ve already read, and it seemed like the summaries captured over 90% of the book.  For example, I started with David Allen’s Getting Things Done, and compared the notes that I had taken from reading the book once through and listening to the audio book once.  From both sets of notes, there were only a handful of things that weren’t in the book summary, and those things weren’t that big of a deal.

It goes back to the 80/20 rule.  With few exceptions, 80% of the information comes from 20% of the book.  If you select the right pages, you can get 80% of the book from reading 20%.  That’s what book summaries are.  Of course, it’s still good to read, but adding book summaries to the mix is a way to change it up and get more out of your overall reading plan.  This is similar to how I recommend going back through the books you’ve read and just reading the highlights, except someone else took the highlights out for you.

Not only does Blinkist have some of the best books (including most of the books on my top finance books and top productivity books), but the summaries are well written and easy to read.  Here are a few of the books from one page:

blinkist books preview

I signed up for the free 3-day trial, and quickly upgraded to Blinkist Plus, because I could see the value immediately.

Of course, if you sign up and you don’t care for it, there is a 30 day no-questions-asked money-back guarantee.

2. Productive App

Productive App is the best habit tracking app I’ve ever used.

I have completed more of my habits each day since I got the app than I ever have in my life.

Building good habits is the foundation of a successful life.  You won’t start to achieve goals, without first building good habits.

You can set habits for morning, afternoon, evening, or “any time during the day.”  And the app makes you want to complete things.  You want to slide your finger across the item and check it off.  If you check off everything for the day, you have a perfect day.  Then you can try to go for a streak of perfect days.  It’s fun to look in your “Life Stats” and see how many perfect days you’ve had.

productive app

I’ve put my entire morning ritual and evening ritual into the app to track.  And I’ve added several habits to each of those rituals since.

Since I have downloaded Productive App, I have:

  • Written my MITs (Most Important Tasks) for the next day, every night
  • Stuck with my exercise routine, and gradually increased it weekly
  • Taken my vitamins every single day, morning and evening
  • Weighed myself every morning
  • Flossed every evening

These are all things that I did some days, maybe even most days, but now I do them everyday.

If I open my phone and want to get on Facebook, or some other unproductive app, I first open Productive App.  If I have a habit to do, I’ll do that instead of opening Facebook. It’s amazing how much less I open other apps now.  I have a lot of habits in the app.  Mostly tiny habits.

As a side note, this app was actually created by Jaidev Soin, the creator of the Balanced app, which was one of my favorite apps in the past.  Everything that Balanced was lacking is available in Productive App.

You can download Productive App for free, and track your habits.  I upgraded to Premium within the first day.  It’s only a few dollars, and it couldn’t be more worth it.  I would easily pay 10 times that much, now that I’ve used it for a couple months.  With Premium, you can add unlimited habits.  And you get access to stats and data to help you see trends, strengths, and weaknesses in your habit building.

3. Swipes

Swipes is a task managing app.  But it’s different.  And better than the rest.

Swipes took the GTD (Getting Things Done) philosophy and turned it into an app.

You add tasks like a regular task manager, but that’s the only thing that’s like a regular task manager.  First, you have to actually do the task at a certain time.  If you add an item, it will ask you when you want to accomplish it.  If you don’t do the item, it will prompt you to reschedule.  So your items never go undone, they just get rescheduled.  And you can only reschedule a task a few times before you realize how much you’re procrastinating.

The other amazing part of this app is the action steps.  If you have a project to do, that’s not a single task.  And this app recognizes that by using “action steps” that you can add to a task.  The task might be “Make a Presentation,” but the action steps will include “Create an Outline, Draft the Review, Submit to Supervisor, etc..”  That alone is worth having the app.  It helps to break down the projects that seem so daunting.

Here’s a quick screenshot of a few of my tasks:

swipes app

Swipes is free for now, but they’re working on a premium version. I suggest downloading it before the premium version is released, so that you have a chance of being grandfathered in if they remove features from the free version.


Have you tried any of these?  What’s your favorite productivity app?  Share below!