Managing tasks and automation is ultimately essential to the modern go-getter’s lifestyle.
A yuppy’s journey often includes juggling business dreams, a 9-5 grind, graduate school, blogging, fitness, relationships, hobbies, self care and an active social life to name a few… whew. Read on as we explore:
- Basic culture from a sociological standpoint,
- Its connection with the open source/access movement, and
- A nifty list of tried-and-tested tools — the best free productivity apps for planning and optimizing your day.
“Basic” culture and the open source movement
What is this “basic” culture? In some ways, it has become a means to shame or frown on those typical people who are perceived to be blind followers of latest fads, trends and status symbols.
Another way to look at it is through the open-source or open-access movement. In its attempt to veer away from paid licenses and restricted-access business models, the movement paved the way for mainstreaming free web development frameworks such as WordPress, one of the more popular open-source (free) website frameworks for bloggers. Mainstream businesses have hopped on the open-source bandwagon, but usually not entirely.
Tech firms begin offering customers free versions of their platforms with limited/basic features, then up-selling their products’ higher plans with more advanced bells and whistles to entice users to pay for powerful upgrades. Nothing wrong with that per se, so long as done ethically. Like they say in economics, there is no such thing as a free meal.
So it seems that those who usually stick with basic/free subscriptions are called, well, basic people.
One way or another, shaming the basic culture and calling people basic in a snide, derogatory tone seems to be a 21st century revival of the snooty high/elite art vs low/mass/pop art cultural divide.
As a new generation, it’s again high time to take a second look at ourselves in this regard. Are we contributing to widening the gap — or are we for a more fair and equitable society? You can’t buy class, so best check your privileged attitude/judgement over basic culture.
Best free apps for productivity
I’m not gonna lie, I have upgraded/purchased higher plans in a few things, so I’m not 100% basic. But most of the apps I use are usually free, though I might consider upgrading in the future depending on my needs. It’s best to carefully discern upgrades — don’t pay just for the sake of being cool or non-basic.
If it’s worth the investment, I’d go for an upgrade. But if the basic version already works fine, I’d stick with it. Below are some great free apps that I’ve found super nifty amidst the plethora of apps that I’ve tried and uninstalled. I hope these help you work smart and have a more productive day.
What are the things that I usually look for when choosing apps? Style and substance, of course.
Visually appealing interface
Functional and user-friendly (drag-and-drop)
Cross-device and OS compatible
I know what you’re thinking — what is a self-care app doing in a productivity app list? But I’ve found that it’s always best to start with the internal. Aside from decluttering your physical space, don’t forget to also declutter your mind.
Are their any tangled knots you need to untie? Fears and anxieties that are holding you back from being at your best? Wysa, the cute little blue penguin, serves as a psychological first aid. It’s an emotionally-intelligent chatbot (AI) that helps you figure out what’s really bothering you.
You’d be surprised at how smart and intuitive Wysa is. The little penguin guides you as you process your own thoughts, rewire your mindset, and helps you see things in a different light/angle.
It boasts of being accredited with NHS UK’s DCB 0129 Standard of Clinical Safety. The Wysa apps’ free version is limited to the AI/chatbot therapy. I don’t have any diagnosed clinical issues, so I’ve found the free version quite useful when I’m just overwhelmed with day-to-day stress. Another free self-care tool that I use is my digital Healing Deck of self-affirmations — I share it with you in my other article on Boosting Your Psychological Immune System.
But in case you do need to complement Wysa with a professional human therapist, the app provides that too for a paid subscription. The options are all there for you to consider. Check it out!
We all know that habits are the foundation to one’s character. Go even deeper into breaking down tasks into finer units. Run your daily micro-habits on the Routinery app.
Micro-habits are things you do regularly in short edible bursts, such as reading five pages a day, fixing your bed in two minutes, meditating for five, doing ab workouts for ten, etc.
I use Routinery on my phone to make sure I get my daily rituals done with military drill-like precision. That’s the goal, not always the reality — but I’m determined to get there consistently. What I love about it is the pleasant chimes that nudge/remind you of your timeline. It isn’t annoying at all, I even appreciate the app all the more.
Shoot for the stars and land on the moon. It’s good to leave a bit of contingency time for things you can’t control in between. I get so much more done in the day with the app than without it. I am most sluggish in the wee hours of the morning before coffee and late at night when my energy is all spent. So the app is such a fantastic tool to use to stay at the height of productivity even during those groggy times of the day.
The free version allows just two routines, so I use it for my tall stack of microhabits/tasks in AM and PM rituals. I think that’s a pretty good bargain for its functionality.
Trello is the ultimate project management and organizer app for the modern go-getter. It organizes information in so many ways, but is also simple, super user-friendly and visually stunning!!!
The range of uses are so versatile. Use it simply as your vision/dream board, or perhaps for serious business with intense sales funnels for CRM or client relations management.
It’s default view is in a Kanban board. But with free optional power-ups (plugin features), you can transform your list from kanban to gantt charts or calendars — just a few of its many flexible views/styles.
Another thing I love about it are user-friendly automation scripts!!! Hooray for if-this-then-that automation. Trello calls this the Butler feature: you can easily customize certain commands that run when an action/button triggers it — basically doing some of your work for you. The free version is limited to one or only a handful of butler commands, but still not bad as an add-on for a free app and if you’re not a heavy Trello user yet.
With so many templates and views to choose from, it is every multi-tasker’s dream app! Download Trello for free and sign up if you’re new to it. As a project management junkie, I highly recommend it.
Trello bug report as of 9 Nov. 2020 : As I’ve been using Trello’s Calendar power-up more intensively, I’ve noticed that the calendar cards are duplicated unnecessarily. It goes slightly rogue after a while. Not sure why that is, but you might want to keep an eye out for that. If you notice any other bugs or fixes/hacks with Trello, feel free to share with us so other users can benefit from our collective insights. But overall, it’s still a pretty nifty tool, with a beautiful interface and a wide array of applications. I would still recommend you try it out yourself and see if it works for you.
If Trello is to project management; then for databases, Notion is to Excel on steroids!!
I would usually use Notion to make pretty and easy-to-use database/records. For instance, if I need to canvass for event suppliers, or build a long list of apartments/condos with checklist columns marking if the place is pet-friendly, with parking, one-bedroom, etc., I would use Notion (ditch Excel), hands down.
Although, I would revert back to Excel (or SPSS for the social science community) for intense statistical/data analysis because I doubt if Notion can handle that.
But just for organizing simple, beautiful databases when all you need is to easily sort/filter/view/count items in columns — Notion is the best by far. Excel or even Google Sheets pales in comparison UX-wise.
The downside to the free version is it allows only one user/member for an account. So for personal use, it’s great. For me, if I just need to do simple canvassing, personal accounting, or a house-hunting spreadsheet on my own, it serves its purpose quite well. But for larger collaboration/teamwork, you might want to consider other options or buy the upgrades.
To be truly productive, we can’t just shoot arrows blindly. We need to aim towards a target, plan, build a roadmap, properly segment our goals/objectives/projects.
XMind is a mindmapping tool that I use on my tablet to occasionally check, in a glance, if my decisions and routines contribute towards my life’s goals. I like this better than a collage vision board because mindmaps are better organized in a clear, tree-format — from the central dream/goal/concept then branching out to the specifics.
The customization features are really nice too. My life mindmap is in a girly millenial pink theme (haha), but boys of course have the option to make it manly and butch, as well as more colors for everyone else along the gender rainbow spectrum.
One thing lacking is the ability to add images to the nodes, which would have been perfect. But compared to the other free mindmap apps in the apple store, XMind won me over functionality-wise.
There you have it. Five best free apps for productivity. There are so many other apps/tech I’d like to add to this conversation, such as exploring the Internet-of-Things. Perhaps I’ll dabble into that eventually and update this list as well.
Like you, I’m not perfect either, but I give it my best shot and use these tools to get to where I’d like to be. I hope it helps you on your journey to greatness!!! Give a high five and luscious suggestions in the comment section below. Cheers to your success.
Stijn Daenekindt’s chapter on High Culture in the book: The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Sociology. Edited by George Ritzer and Chris Rojek. © 2018 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Published 2018 by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. DOI: 10.1002/9781405165518.wbeos1214