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Productivity Junkie? Here are 5 Apps Southeast Asian Employees Should be Using Now

For employees in countries with poor Internet connections, don’t worry, some of these run offline

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BY Lian Kyla Dyogi - 27 Mar 2017

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

Productivity junkie or not, the 21st century working world is so fast-paced; it’s no wonder that there are a plethora of articles, tips, and apps to help people hack their productivity. While it is still recommended that you start by finding a technique or method that works for you, apps are still a great aid on your journey to becoming the most productive you (Sounds like a cheesy self-help infomercial yet?).

Here are 5 apps Southeast Asians can use to make their workday go even smoother:


1. Forest

Available on Android, iOS, and as extensions on Chrome and Firefox, Forest is the Pomodoro-technique based app you’ve been waiting for. Built on the idea that you should work with your desire to take breaks instead of against it, the Pomodoro method helps manage the desire to procrastinate by breaking tasks up into manageable chunks, as described in this Inc. Southeast Asia article. How? You work for 25 focused minutes and then take a 5-minute break afterwards. After four sessions of this, you take a longer break (say 20-30 minutes).

Forest takes this technique and makes it 10x more fun. With each new session of 25 minutes, you’re given a virtual seed. Each completed 25-minute chunk will turn the seed into a tree. Want to create a beautiful forest? Then keep that seed alive and growing. If you check any of the websites you’ve put on the app’s Blacklist, it’ll kill your tree. Warning: Guilt levels will increase as you continue to kill trees by procrastinating. If this won’t help you focus, we don’t know what will.


2. Newton

Describing themselves as “Supercharged emailing”, Newton is quite unbelievable. Previously CloudMagic, Newton is a (slightly pricey) subscription based email app that keeps all your email accounts in one place. But for what it’s worth, it lets you schedule your emails, tells you if your email has been read (so you know if you’re being “seen-zoned”), allows you to snooze emails, and even lets you undo those you’ve already sent! There’s no excuse for typos anymore.


3. Bear

Officially launched in the last quarter of 2016, this lightweight iOS note taking app might just give Evernote a run for its money. With similarities to the interface of team messaging app Slack, Bear lets users use hashtags to organize notes into categories. The app also has mark-up options, differentiates addresses from the rest of the text, and has various header options.

Some of its cooler features? The app lets you reference your other notes in your current note, gives you a word count, and read time. The only downside is you need to upgrade to premium to sync notes across various platforms and access advanced exports (e.g. PDF, HTML, DOCX). But with Bear’s clean, simple, and pleasing design, you might be able to overlook that. For Android users, Shiny Frog (the developer) says they want to build a web version, we’ll just have to wait and see.


4. Workflow

For iOS users obsessed with efficiency, meet Workflow. It’s a (now) free iOS app that automates and lets you combine actions from various apps on your device to create one smooth process. Turn a website into a PDF file, scan QR codes, log your daily water intake, and even post photos across three social media accounts at the same time with one click of a button.

While a bit intimidating, the app has a Gallery with pre-made scripts for different needs with workflow titles like “When Do I Need to Leave By?”, “Share Availability”, and “Calculate Tip”. It’s scary efficient, there’s no wonder Apple recently acquired it.


5. Seven

Surprised to see a fitness app on this list? Don’t be, after all, you’re not a machine. We don’t need to cite studies to convince you that looking after your health, which includes exercise, also leads to better productivity. The idea of the 7-minute workout blew up a few years ago. Seven is an app built around that. While the bodyweight based workout is only 7 minutes long and is a form of High-Intensity Interval Training, you can do more than one circuit. By upgrading from the free version, the app lets users access more specific workout plans. While it won’t magically make you healthier, a few minutes of exercise a day should be better than none.

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