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  • Writer's pictureAmanda Clemmer

Top 12 Productivity Apps for Writers

Self-publishing is busy work, and we all live in an increasingly distracting world. If you’re trying to cut down the clutter in your life and get the most out of your production time, here are the top twelve apps that can help.

Productivity apps fall into several very different categories, and depending on what you’re looking for and how you work, you might find one from each that can help you.

Time Management

These apps are the most time-related. Cut back on the distractions so you can dedicate time to writing.

1. Rescue Time

Rescue Time is a time-tracking app that watches what you work on, when you work on it, and how long you work. It’s a great way not only to cut out distractions but learn to optimize your own schedule by pinpointing the time of day when you can work the longest with the least distraction.

2. Focus Keeper

Focus Keeper operates around the Pomodoro technique. You choose what you want to focus on, and the app will time you for 25 minutes while you work, allowing for small breaks in between tasks. Its minimalistic interface makes it easy to dive into and adapt to whatever your schedule requires.

3. Tiimo

Tiimo is a digital planner that was designed with visual workers in mind. It uses graphics, icons, and colorful charts to help you get the most out of your time and track how much time you have left.

4. Freedom

Sometimes timing yourself might not do the trick. Freedom blocks distracting websites while you work so that you can dedicate your time entirely to productivity, keeping social media and Internet rabbit holes out of the way.

5. Forest

Forest adds a creative visual to a basic timer. Forest allows you to grow virtual trees through a 25-minute timer. It tracks how many trees you grow over the day, week, month, or year in your own forests so you feel compelled to revisit the app whenever you can.

My favorite: Forest. Planting the trees and unlocking new trees is fun and adds a game-like experience. It’s easy to start planting and block off time before you know it, which clears up much of my day for better work.

To-do Lists

If you’re having to juggle a busier writing, publishing, and promotion schedule, you might need something more advanced to stay on top. Here are some of the top planners and to-do lists you can use on your phone.

6. WaterDo

WaterDo turns your to-do list into colorful water bubbles you can pop as you complete, doubling your satisfaction at a job well done. In addition, you can work to build up your campsite as you complete more tasks, encouraging you to put down everything you can.

7. Remember The Milk

Remember The Milk sends out reminders as looming tasks draw near, and it can send them out any way you want. If you need an extra nudge to remind you what to do when, this is a simple way to get it done.

8. Trello

Trello is best known for being a group productivity app, but it has its value as a to-do list app as well. It’s the only app I could find that has different slots for “will do” “am doing” and “already done”--meaning that if your book launch is mostly taken care of but still has a few tweaks, you can label it as such.

My favorite: WaterDo has a sense of fun, and the bubble-popping element makes every task so much more satisfying. That makes it my pick for this category.


It’s easy to get distracted or lost when researching. These bookmarking apps can help you save things for later.

9. Evernote

Evernote is much more than a bookmarking site. You can use it to take notes, draft memos and to-do lists, and sync work between devices. But bookmarking is where it shines. You can choose to link to a page, copy an article, or copy a simplified version of the text of an article, as well as pin images and screenshots for reference.

10. Pocket

Pocket allows you to not only save articles but to categorize them and tag them and find others similar. This makes it an effective research tool (though it might lead to procrastination down the road) and a good way to deepen the areas you want to look into.

My favorite: Evernote wins out for bookmarking because of its versatility and my own habit of wanting to save a quick note for later or save only a relevant portion of text. It isn’t perfect (I’d love a decent export option) but I keep coming back to it because of how useful it is.


The right music can significantly boost your focus. The wrong music will only distract you as you try to work.

11. Focus@Will

Focus@Will feels like any other music app at first, except that the only music it plays is geared toward helping you focus. You can pick from a number of channels to find something that fits your style or shake it up as the day passes. Then you can work in peace to a productive rhythm.

12. MyNoise

MyNoise is a noise generator capable of producing everything from infinite piano to gentle nature sounds to casual conversation. With its customization and high-quality recordings from around the world, it’s easy to customize your workspace to the exact sounds you want to hear.

My favorite: I used to be a devotee of Focus@Will, but the 88 Keys generator on MyNoise won me over because of the prospect of endless piano music. Since donating to unlock all the 200+ sound options available (everything from mermaids singing on the shore to the bridge of the Starship Enterprise), I’ve gotten hooked and now use MyNoise every day for my background.

What are your favorite productivity apps? You can sign up to share your experiences in the comments below, or click on the blue button to join my Facebook group for self-publishing fiction authors.


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