Apps and soft­ware that help you work smart

Tricks and hacks to learn a new skill, man­age your time and tasks bet­ter, and get an edge in your work life.

Gadgets and Gizmos (India) - - CONTENTS - By Nidhi SiN­gal

E ver find your­self star­ing at a clut­tered desk – post-its strewn all over, mag­a­zines dou­bling up as coast­ers – jug­gling phone calls and in­ces­sant emails, as nu­mer­ous un­read tweets and the luke­warm cof­fee crave for your at­ten­tion? If this gave you a sense of déjà vu, your work life is about to get bet­ter. On your desk­top and smart­phone, the very sources of chaos, lies the panacea for most of your pro­fes­sional woes. Be it man­ag­ing time more ef­fi­ciently, giv­ing your brain a lit­tle boost or stay­ing up­dated on de­vel­op­ments across the globe, there are sev­eral apps and web­sites to help you get by a busy day with ease. You could also learn a new lan­guage or im­bibe a new skill by en­rolling for an on­line course, while at work, and get an edge over your peers.

Wun­derlist:

This is one of the best task man­ager apps avail­able for An­droid and Ap­ple smart­phones, Win­dows 8, and even MacOS. Use it to or­gan­ise your per­sonal and pro­fes­sional tasks – set due dates, re­minders, share your to-do list, shop­ping lists, man­age work projects, del­e­gate tasks, start con­ver­sa­tions with the team, share feed­back, or plan a hol­i­day. This app al­lows for work col­lab­o­ra­tion – keep­ing all team com­mu­ni­ca­tion un­der one hood, elim­i­nat­ing the need to ex­change emails – helps you meet dead­lines, and makes daily chores a breeze. The Wun­derlist for Busi­ness comes for $4.99 per user/ month.

lu­mos­ity:

Shake off the lethargy and sharpen your con­cen­tra­tion with­out a hint of caf­feine! Lu­mos­ity is a fun brain game app, avail­able for Ap­ple and An­droid de­vices, that trains one’s core cog­ni­tive abil­i­ties. It has over 50 cog­ni­tive games de­signed by sci­en­tists and game de­sign­ers. Af­ter record­ing cer­tain de­tails such as your age and gen­der, it starts you off with a ‘Fit Test’ flex­i­bil­ity, at­ten­tion and mem­ory, and then stacks your score against those of sim­i­lar age. A train­ing pro­gramme is then customised for you – daily work-outs tar­get­ing dif­fer­ent cog­ni­tive skills ev­ery day, in­sights, track­ing tools and rec­om­men­da­tions. Choose your pack­age or pay $11.95 per month per user.

res­cue time:

If you get dis­tracted eas­ily, this time man­age­ment tool is for you. It puts a re­al­ity check on how much you have ac­tu­ally ac­com­plished ver­sus how much time you have ‘spent’ on­line. It runs in the back­ground, and tracks the time you spend in a cur­rently ac­tive tab or win­dow of your browser, giv­ing you an ac­cu­rate pic­ture of how and where time was spent through the day. It blocks dis­tract­ing sites if they are up be­yond a spec­i­fied time and alerts you when you spend more than the stip­u­lated time on a cer­tain ac­tiv­ity – all cus­tomis­able. There is a pre­mium ver­sion of the tool that can log the time spent on off­line ac­tiv­i­ties such as calls, meet­ings, and even com­mutes. The app works across Mac, Win­dows, An­droid, and Linux. While Res­cueTime Lite is free, Res­cueTime Pre­mium is priced at $6.75 per month.

cours­era:

This on­line ed­u­ca­tion por­tal of­fers a range of cour­ses and boasts of af­fil­i­a­tions with uni­ver­si­ties such as Yale, Stan­ford and Nanyang Tech­no­log­i­cal Univer­sity, among oth­ers. With over 2,000 cour­ses of­fer­ing spe­cial­i­sa­tion in sub­jects such as arts and hu­man­i­ties, busi­ness, com­puter sci­ence and data sci­ence, it also serves as a per­sonal de­vel­op­ment and lan­guage learn­ing plat­form.

Cours­era claims to have over 20 mil­lion reg­is­tered learn­ers world­wide. Cours­era is also avail­able as an app for Ap­ple and An­droid de­vices. While a ma­jor­ity of its cour­ses are free, some are priced in the range of `1,972 to `4,012.

sim­plilearn:

This cer­ti­fi­ca­tion train­ing provider addresses the needs of stu­dents and pro­fes­sion­als, help­ing fur­ther their ca­reer goals. It has pro­fes­sional train­ers for over 400 cour­ses in the dis­ci­plines of cy­ber se­cu­rity, cloud com­put­ing, project man­age­ment, dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing, and data sci­ence, among oth­ers. It also has ven­dor cour­ses – Ama­zon Web Ser­vices Cer­ti­fi­ca­tion for ac­quir­ing cloud skills, for ex­am­ple. Sim­plilearn of­fers a com­bi­na­tion of on­line classes, in­struc­tor-led live vir­tual class­rooms, project work, and 24/7 teach­ing as­sis­tance. The app is avail­able for Ap­ple and An­droid de­vices. Cour­ses are priced be­tween `999 and `1,14,426, based on the du­ra­tion.

duolingo:

We all have cher­ished the de­sire to learn a new lan­guage at some point. You can do so for free, at the time and place of your choice. On Duolingo, you start off by as­so­ci­at­ing words with pic­tures. From ba­sic verbs, phrases, and sen­tences, you move up lev­els as you get more pro­fi­cient. The app gives you ac­cess to real ar­ti­cles and trans­la­tions, sends daily re­minders for study, of­fers tests, and tracks your progress. Choose from Span­ish, French, Por­tuguese, Dutch, Ir­ish, Dan­ish, Swedish, Rus­sian, and many more lan­guages.

Habit list:

This is your best buddy if you own an iPhone, wish to get rid of old un­healthy habits, and em­bark on a bet­ter rou­tine. Habit List has an in­tu­itive in­ter­face that keeps you mo­ti­vated and helps you fo­cus. You can make a list of all the things due for the day or days ahead, and the app will en­sure you get it all done – whether it is con­sum­ing three litres of wa­ter in the day or tak­ing the stairs in­stead of the lift on spe­cific days. It tracks your progress to­wards the goal and pro­vides re­minders too. Price: `300.

google noW launcHer:

An in­tel­li­gent launcher that puts Google Now on the home­screen of your smart­phone. This voice as­sis­tant soft­ware can make your life eas­ier – whether by book­ing you a table at a res­tau­rant or search­ing for in­for­ma­tion on­line. The more you use, the more it learns and adapts to your be­hav­iour. It’s free for An­droid and iOS.

pocket:

For those of us hard­pressed for time, this is one use­ful app, and is free, too. It book­marks ar­ti­cles that we wish to read later, with­out miss­ing out on them. It saves ev­ery­thing at one place so you can find them eas­ily. It is com­pat­i­ble with over thou­sands of apps and is avail­able for free on iOS and An­droid de­vices .

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