The best free apps to stay productive in 2014

I spend a lot of time in front of the screen. And not just one screen, or even two. Most days, I've got the Apple TV on, my MacBook and iPad on the table beside me and my iPhone in my lap. These are the apps I use to keep myself sane.

1. Evernote

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Evernote is my go-to for keeping track of pretty much everything. From workout plans to health insurance policies to warranties, anything I may want to reference later goes into the app. Really, this app is awesome. So awesome that I even broke down and paid for the Pro version so I could move from a 200MB/month upload allowance to a 1GB/month upload allowance.

Get Evernote for Android, iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Google Chrome. Or, visit Evernote on the web.

2. Any.do

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I've tried nearly every to-do app out there, but I've always gone back to my trusty pen and paper. That said, with Any.do I think I've found something I can hold on to (at least for now). One of the things I love about this app is the early morning notification on my phone's home screen that says "Plan your day"—Any.do knows me so well that it knows I can't even get out of bed without a plan.

Get Any.do for Android, iPhone, and Google Chrome.

3. Sunrise

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I love Sunrise for so many reasons: a nice interface that includes fun icons; built in weather forecasting for morning, noon, and night; social media connectivity; and seamless integration with Google Calendar (not like the hack method used by iCal). Now if the founders would only release a Mac app!

Get Sunrise for the iPhone and iPad.

4. Mint Personal Finance

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Back in the day—the way old day—I used to manage my finances using Microsoft Money. When the software was discontinued, I became an early adopter of Mint.com. Mint is amazing: it gives me the big-picture view for all my financial accounts, which happen to span across 2 checking accounts, 2 savings accounts, 5 credit cards, a 401K, and an IRA (and about a half-dozen other closed accounts). When I had a car loan, it tracked that, too. It also lets me know that I'm ahead of my savings goal for retirement but behind in my savings goal for a house downpayment (mostly because my house fund has recently become my travel fund).

Get Mint for Android, iPhone, iPad, and Mac. Or, visit Mint on the web.

5. Moves

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Moves tracks the routes, distance, and speed of your movement, primarily walking, running, cycling, and "transport" (driving.) What set Moves apart from all of its competitors is that it just works. No need to open an app and start a timer. No calibrations. No start/stop buttons. Just a daily log of where you've been, how long it took you to get there, and how many calories you burned along the way.

Get Moves for Android and iPhone. (Side note: Moves was free on iOS when I adopted it and remains free on Android. It appears, however, that the app now costs $2.99 on iOS.)

6. RescueTime

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RescueTime tracks productive time spent on your computer by logging how much time is spent using various software programs and visiting various domains on the web. Users can rely on the program's defaults or calibrate the app on their own, categorizing individual software and websites as Very Productive, Productive, Neutral, Distracting, or Very Distracting. Each week RescueTime sends a productivity report via email which can be quite eye-opening. For example, I learned that I spent an average of 6 hours per day in Microsoft Outlook when working for an agency. No wonder why I was having to do my actual job after hours.

Get RescueTime for Windows and Mac.

What Do You Recommend?

Although these 6 apps are my current favorites, I'm always looking for new technology to add to my arsenal. Are there any apps that you swear by? Leave them in the comments below so that I can check them out!

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Posted on January 4, 2014 and filed under Technology.