12 Tools That'll Keep You Productive Morning, Noon & Night

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When I need to have a very productive day, I tell myself it’s going to be easy.

I’ll just wake up early, grab a big cup of coffee, and then begin powering through my to-do list. Maybe I’ll break for a meal, or a stretch, or a quick conversation with a coworker. But I’ll truck on, energy unwavering until bedtime, where I’ll promptly fall asleep for eight, wonderful, uninterrupted hours of sleep.

Cool fantasy, self. Real life is rarely — if ever — that picture-perfect. Our bodies aren’t designed to operate at a constant 100% efficiency level. So if you want to be more productive throughout the day, you’re better off relegating certain activities to certain times, and devoting yourself to doing those activities within those windows. Download our complete guide here for more tips on improving your productivity.

And to make sure you get the right things done at the right times of day, you can lean on a plethora of different free or relatively cheap apps and tools. Below, we’ve collected some of the highest-rated and often-recommended productivity apps for each part of the day. Try them out and see if they work for you.

15 of the Best Productivity Tools for All-Day Efficiency

Morning

1) Headspace

Price: Free, with subscriptions available on iPhone, Android, Web

Starting your day off with a quick meditation session can be a great way to gear up for the day — even scientists say so. According to a 2012 study, people who meditated “stayed on tasks longer and made fewer task switches, as well as reporting less negative feedback after task performance.”

Sold … but not sure how to get started? We recommend downloading Headspace. It gives you 10 free guided meditation sessions, and if you end up getting hooked, you can sign up for a monthly subscription.

2) Prompts or Writing Challenge

Price: Prompts is $2.99 on iPhone | Writing Challenge is $1.89 on Android

You may have heard about the benefits of writing something — anything — in the morning. But actually making time for morning freewriting a reality can be a challenge. How do you actually find something to write about when you’ve barely had time to make your coffee?

By downloading a writing prompts app, of course. Prompts and Writing Challenge are both great options. They give you a jumping-off point for a piece, and then let you dive right into writing. Prompts is especially cool for folks who like to track their habits to stay motivated because it offers some basic analytics for you to analyze your writing habit progress.

3) Todoist

Price: Free, with premium subscriptions available on iPhone, Android, Web

You don’t have to actually write down your to-do lists in the morning, but you should definitely take a look at them before you dive into your work. And if your to-do list is cluttered and confusing, you’ll end up losing precious time to reorganizing and re-prioritizing it.

To prevent that from happening, I’d highly suggest a tool like Todoist. HubSpot Senior Marketing Manager Lindsay Kolowich introduced me to it, and it’s completely transformed the way I keep track of what I need to accomplish. It allows you to add deadlines and labels to each list item, then automatically sorts your whole to-do list by what you have to accomplish that day. That can help you keep you on top of what you need to accomplish on a given day, and prevents you from getting sidetracked by down-the-road projects.

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4) Jell

Price: Free, with premium subscriptions available on iPhone, Android, Web

After you set your own to-do list, chances are, you’ll need to check in with your teammates about what’s on their plates for the day. One super easy way to do this — especially when you have a remote team — is by using an app called Jell.

Instead of calling a 30-minute meeting to debrief on what everyone’s doing, you simply fill out a form in Jell that gets sent to the rest of your team. (If you’re using Slack, it has a handy integration to have these messages posted in there, too.)

This way, you can quickly get on the same page with your team, and then move on to the most important work of your day. Here’s what Jell looks like in action:

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5) Feedly

Price: Free for desktop, iPhone, and Android

Before I get started on my work every day, I like to check in on what my peer influencers are writing or talking about in the marketing and technology space. With Feedly, you can add a feed of the latest blog posts and articles from your favorite publishers to get inspired and informed to kick off your day. I even set Feedly as my homepage so I have to check it out. Here’s what it looks like:

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Afternoon

6) Do

Price: $10/month on iPhone and Web

Fast-forward a few hours, and chances are, you’ll have a block of meetings on your plate. (That is, after all, the best time of day to have them.) But if you’re going to take time out of your day for meetings, they better be productive. There’s nothing worse than wasting a bunch of people’s time on something that could have been handled over email.

Yep — a tool can help you with that too. The Do app can help you keep yours more organized and actionable — that way, no one’s wasting time sitting in unnecessary meetings. If you’re looking for a free option, Solid (available on Web only) is a great choice.

7) Stormboard

Price: Free, with premium subscriptions available on Web

When your attention starts to wane, it can be hard to get things done. For many people, that tends to happen in the afternoon.

Turns out, that can be a good thing: When you’re less focused, you have more room to be creative. So the afternoon is a great time for brainstorming, collaboration, and breaking through cognitive barriers.

If you and your team are feeling particularly creative one afternoon, a great tool to consider using is Stormboard. It allows everyone to easily brainstorm and collaborate — even if they aren’t in the same room. Then, you can prioritize the best ideas to be put into action at a later date.

8) Unstuck

Price: Free on iPhone, Android, Web

But what if you’re not focused or feeling creative? You’ve got to get work done, but you’re feeling … stuck.

Unstuck can help. It’s an app that acts like an in-the-moment personal coach. It’ll ask you a series of questions to unearth what exactly is blocking you, and then give you steps to get through that block. Having this “outside” perspective can be a game-changer to breaking through some seriously inhibiting time-sucks.

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9) StayFocusd and Freedom

Price: StayFocusd is free | Freedom is less than $3 per month after a free trial for iPhone

StayFocusd and its mobile app Freedom can help you stay focused (get it?) throughout the day, by blocking access to distracting websites for certain periods of time. So whether it’s Twitter, Reddit, or YouTube, you can customize certain periods of time when you’re allowed to be distracted — and when you’re not. As the day goes on, you might be more tempted to slack off and lose your steam, and these apps will help keep you going with a reminder — and a countdown clock:

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You should still take breaks throughout the day — but instead of getting sucked into procrastinating online, get up from your desk and take a walk. More on that next.

10) Daily Water

Price: Daily Water is free for iPhone and Android

When you’re in the zone getting work done, it can sometimes be hard to remember to take care of yourself. Daily Water is a handy app that reminds you to take a break, stand up, and rehydrate. You can set the app to remind you to drink water during different intervals of the day, so you can schedule breaks for in between projects to stay healthy, focused, and productive all day long.

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11) Quartz or Inside

Price: Quartz is free on iPhone | Inside is free on iPhone, Android, Web

When you’ve been in the weeds all day getting important projects done, it can be tempting to take some time to catch up on what you missed in the news.

The trouble is, those reading breaks can sometimes get unruly. That 15 minutes you thought would be enough turn into 45 minutes of reading, and you’re suddenly late for your train home.

To feel in-the-know about the day without breaking your productivity streak, try catching up via your favorite news summary app. Mine is from Quartz: a chat-themed news summary app that’s quickly become a staple of my phone’s home screen. A few quick clicks, and I’m on my way to catching a ride home.

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Night

12) 7 Minute Workout

Price: Free on iPhone, Android

Everyone has their favorite time of day to work out, but science says that your lung function peaks around 5 p.m. So if you want to squeeze in a quick workout sometime in your day, right before dinner might be the trick.

If you don’t have a regular routine or are just trying to do something fast, I’d recommend checking out J&J’s 7 Minute Workout app. You can pick from its programs, or design one of your own — and all can be done in less than 30 minutes.

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13) Podcasts or Stitcher

Price: Podcasts is free on iPhone; Sticher is free on iPhone, Android, Web

Chances are, you’ll have spent most of your day looking at things. Reading on the computer. Watching slides on the projector. Scanning news on your phone. So when you leave work, you should strengthen one of your other senses, such as your listening comprehension. It’s an underdeveloped skill — especially in adults — but it can have a big impact on our professional and personal lives.

If you want to strengthen your listening skills, try playing a few podcast episodes on your phone during your commute home. If you have an iPhone, you have a Podcasts app already built-in. Otherwise, you can access them through Stitcher.

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14) Grid Diary or Journey

Price: Grid Diary is free with premium options on iPhone | Journey is Free on Android, Chrome App

Many might think that journaling is just a teenage pastime, but it has many benefits for people of any age.

If you don’t love the idea of actually penning your ideas and experiences to paper, you can use Grid Diary or Journey. Both allow you to not only capture written recaps of your day, but also add photos to your entries. Plus, they both have built-in prompts — so even on the most hectic of days, you can distill some insights for your future self.

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15) Sleep Genius

Price: $4.99 on iPhone; Free with in-app purchases on Android

Finally. You’ve made it through the day and kept yourself productive. You take a moment to celebrate … but then, you realize that tomorrow’s to-do list is already jam-packed. You need a good night’s sleep, and you need it now.

Sleep Genius might be the cure. The app has built-in relaxation techniques and gentle alarms to wake you up at a natural moment in your sleep cycle, helping make sure you feel rested come morning.

After all, if you’re feeling sluggish the next day, even the best apps might not be effective. (But that cup of coffee might do the trick.)

What are your favorite productivity tools for different times of day? Share with us in the comments.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in March 2016 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

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Source: 12 Tools That'll Keep You Productive Morning, Noon & Night
blog.hubspot.com/marketing

How the Modern Viewer (& Cupcakes) Transformed Saturday Night Live

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Disclaimer: I love Saturday Night Live.

Actually, that’s a huge understatement. I grew up watching SNL, some of my role models are SNL veterans, and I regularly abandon Saturday night plans so I can watch the show live.

So you can imagine my joy when SNL started going digital. After almost 40 years on the air, SNL began publishing clips from the show on NBC.com and YouTube, where videos racked up millions of views and changed how the show was watched. And since the introduction of more social media platforms, SNL has only gotten more innovative and creative with its approach to sharing comedy with the world. The current season of SNL, Season 42, is the most-watched in 24 years.

To pay homage to the Spartan Cheerleaders, the Ladies of SNL, and too many impressions to count, we’re doing a deep-dive into how SNL is evolving its strategy to suit the modern viewer. The show still airs on Saturday nights at 11:30 p.m. at 30 Rockefeller Center, but SNL is also diversifying how, where, and when you can watch its hilarious skits and stellar musical performances.

How SNL Is Diversifying Content

Pre-Produced Skits for Watching (and Rewatching) Online

Does anyone else remember the iconic “Lazy Sunday” rap that went viral online and kicked off the career of The Lonely Island?

That video was SNL’s second Digital Short ever, and it was released back in 2005.

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Source: NBC

Since then, SNL has produced more digital shorts in addition to its trademark live skits — pre-produced videos that aren’t performed live but are still aired with the audience’s live reactions. Check out its recent music video about a high school theater production’s cast party:

Since the dawn of internet video in the early 2000s, SNL has leaned more heavily on creating these pre-produced music videos and commercial parodies that lend more easily to watching and rewatching online. These videos have higher production value than the live skits, confront topical political and cultural references head-on, and have made up close to one-third of the show’s lineup since “Lazy Sunday” premiered.

These videos perform incredibly well on YouTube — check out the pre-produced “Undercover Boss” parody series episode that earned almost 22 million views below:

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Source: YouTube

When an episode of SNL airs, NBCUniversal publishes the full episode and all of the skits and performances on its own website. Then, it publishes the most popular videos on YouTube, where some go on to achieve viral status. And although viewers can’t watch the complete episodes on YouTube, the modern accessibility of SNL online has helped the show maintain topical relevance and popularity.

Takeaway for marketers: SNL teaches marketers to pay attention to what their audience is doing and to cater to them. During the 2016 U.S. presidential election cycle, for example, SNL’s YouTube channel grew 48% — a nod to the impact of catering to viewer preferences on video metrics. Live sketches and improvisation will always be the bread and butter of SNL, but it also leans on quality pre-produced videos, a distributed content strategy, and what’s happening in the world to guide its editorial strategy.

Original Skits on Snapchat

In 2016, NBCUniversal made a deal with Snapchat that it would begin creating original content for the ephemeral messaging platform. And in February 2017, SNL produced its first original skit for Snapchat.

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Source: Saturday Night Live via Snapchat

We’re not clear yet how many skits will be produced exclusively for Snapchat. We do know the skits are available for 48 hours after the air of the show on the Snapchat Discover tab, accessed by swiping left twice on the Snapchat home screen. SNL is expanding its distributed content strategy to include even newer platforms and audiences, and it will be fascinating to see how many of SNL’s 11 million viewers will consume its Snapchat content, too.

Takeaway for marketers: SNL teaches marketers not to stay entrenched in comfortable, usual channels for publishing and to experiment with new platforms and formats, such as ephemeral content on Snapchat. Try posting disappearing content stories on Snapchat, Instagram, or Facebook Messenger to see if you can engage your audience with new content.

Behind-the-Scenes on Instagram

SNL’s Instagram is another must-follow for any sketch comedy superfan. Not only does SNL use Instagram to post short clips from sketches to drive viewers to its YouTube channel, but it posts fun, behind-the-scenes looks at rehearsals, costume changes, and performances that you’d only see if you were backstage.

 

When you find your own #tbt in the Studio 8H hallway. #SNL

A post shared by Saturday Night Live – SNL (@nbcsnl) on Feb 9, 2017 at 8:06pm PST

Everyone likes to feel like they’re in on a secret — after all, FOMO is a powerful marketing tool. These behind-the-scenes images help foster a sense of community between SNL and its viewers, and it gives viewers an incentive for following along — they get the inside scoop on their TV show.

In a recent Instagram post, SNL promoted its series of behind-the-scenes videos, “Creating Saturday Night Live,” available only on YouTube. Videos like these are for fans who want to learn more about the hair and makeup process that transforms cast members from presidents to aliens and back again, and other behind-the-scenes secrets.

Takeaway for marketers: SNL uses its Instagram to promote and repurpose content from the show, but it also creates original content to appeal to fans on a more intimate level. Marketers can duplicate this approach to drive engagement on different social channels by pushing for urgency. Publish content that’s exclusive to social media, offer a contest if viewers follow your Instagram Story, and use recording features like disappearing and looped videos to repurpose video content into something more engaging and easily consumable for social media users.

“Weekend Update” on Thursdays

SNL fans and political news junkies alike rejoiced when NBCUniversal announced “Weekend Update,” a popular comedic news segment on SNL, would air four episodes during Thursday night prime time TV during the summer of 2017 when SNL is normally off the air.

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Source: Vulture

“Weekend Update” covers topical news stories — primarily politics — during its short segments near the end of the SNL broadcast. No matter where you stand in regard to the current political climate, the numbers don’t lie: SNL sketches about the 2016 presidential race and President Donald Trump’s administration are the show’s most popular. In fact, the two most-watched videos on SNL’s YouTube channel are related to the President, and sketches like these are credited with garnering over 1.2 billion views and 1 million engagements. “Weekend Update” segments are particularly popular too, regularly racking up millions of views on YouTube.

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Source: YouTube

So it should come as no surprise that NBCUniversal and SNL are interested in keeping the comedy-news momentum going during the show’s hiatus.

Takeaway for marketers: This lesson teaches marketers to pay close attention to the performance of content campaigns and adjust their strategy accordingly. If a campaign performs well, analyze it to find out what works, and replicate it. It’s always a good idea to double down on what’s working of find ways to repurpose top-performing content. This could be a great strategy for broadcasting live videos on social media or creating compelling ephemeral stories, too.

And live from New York …

For one of the longest-running TV shows on the air, Saturday Night Live has proved itself to be one of the most innovative, too. Perhaps the biggest lesson marketers can take away from SNL’s evolution into a multi-platform comedy giant is to not be afraid of experimenting. While it’s too soon to tell how some of these initiatives are performing, the numbers speak for themselves: SNL is in the midst of its biggest season of the 21st century.

By embracing a distributed content strategy and adapting its creative process to viewer preferences and cultural trends, it’s achieved a level of popularity and viewership most marketers would envy. Experimenting with new types of video and adapting content to new social media strategies will be key to marketers’ success in the future, whether they market products, software, or sketch comedy.

Are there other TV shows with a strong social media presence? Share with us in the comments below.

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Source: blog.hubspot.com/marketing