For busy students, researchers, writers, and professionals, we’ve curated a well-tailored list of productivity tools. Information overload and constant distractions can make it difficult for you to work efficiently. That’s why we’ve chosen six tools to help you research faster, draw insights between vasts amount of information, and plan with your to-do list in mind. From AI chatbots and research tools to powerful mind-mapping programs and visual planners, there’s something for everyone to try out.
AI-Powered Productivity Tools for Research
Easy to access and powerful artificial intelligence (AI) is changing the way we search for information. OpenAI recently released ChatGPT - an AI chatbot that produces human-like text in response to users’ prompts. This chatbot is powered by the famous GPT-3, a language learning model that was trained using large amounts of data to ‘think’ and write like a human.
ChatGPT can act as a virtual assistant that summarises information, responds to follow-up questions, and generates a range of text from essay plans and answers to emails and even code. You can interact with ChatGPT in a conversational style by asking questions, giving feedback, and prompting follow-up adjustments or information.
This powerful AI can be useful research and idea-generation tool. Instead of shifting through blogs and websites via Google, ChatGPT will give you the exact answers you need to kickstart your research and writing. It’s a game-changing tool that tailors answers to your exact prompt or problem, however, it is limited. ChatGPT can’t search the internet for new and up-to-date information and written content should be used as inspiration or a starting point.
For research papers, PDFs, and web pages, Genei is the ultimate summarisation tool to get through background research and reading 70% faster. Just like ChatGPT, Genei uses GPT-3 to power its smart summarisation and search features. Your reading material, notes, and annotations can live in one well-organised space through genei’s file management system.
For reading documents, genei produces a Document Overview that includes an outline, AI-powered summaries, keywords, extracted graphs, images, references, and more. This makes it quick and easy to get through dense reading material and identify whether papers and articles are relevant to your needs. Beyond this, genei offers note-taking and annotation features to kickstart your writing process.
You can add information from the AI-generated Document Overview to the notepad with a click. The notepad offers a range of features to start organising notes into plans and outlines. This includes smart AI writing features to expand, paraphrase, or summarise notepad content. Finally, genei offers quick and precise features to search through your reading material and extract the answers you’re looking for. If you need further reading material, genei also makes it easy to import papers from research references and search for new related literature.
Productivity Tools for Creative and Critical Thinking
If you’re looking for a super simple note-taking and mind-mapping tool, Effie is for you. This tool supports list-style note-taking that uses headers and bullet points. You can group information under each bullet point using a sub-bullet. This makes it quick and easy to brain-dump thoughts and ideas without worrying about the organisation. These lists can then be turned into a mind map with the click of a button. Your headers will act as key points, with bullets and sub-bullets as branches. The note editor and mind map canvas work seamlessly together. If you rearrange information on the mindmap, the notes editor will adjust accordingly.
Effie is the ideal tool for planning, writing, decision-making, and studying. It’s a simple yet powerful way to quickly form connections between ideas, and information, and draw new insights. For students and self-learners, Effie can be used for active recall, exam revision, and essay planning. The intuitive list-style notes make it a versatile tool for thinking through and visualising all kinds of information.
For those who need something more powerful, Xmind is the ‘swiss army knife’ of mind mapping tools. Xmind can boost your creativity and clarity while brainstorming ideas and organising information. This tool offers up to nine different mind map and information organisation structures, including logic charts, fish bone diagrams, timelines, and organisational charts. You can customise these structures with colour themes, graphics, stickers, and illustrations. To top off these powerful features, Xmind also offers a pitch mode to present your mind maps or diagrams.
Xmind is a great tool for organising information into relationships, connections, and sequences in a visual way. You can use this tool for brainstorming ideas, problem-solving, decision-making, and planning. Users of Xmind have used this tool to plan out their personal lives and routines, tackle university demands and study effectively, manage projects, and take meeting notes.
Productivity Tools for Effective Planning
Planning can sometimes become a form of procrastination itself. Following through on routines and tasks is separate from the planning process. Structured helps you tackle the day ahead with a range of features to help you get things done. This planning tool creates a timeline of your day that includes your tasks, events, routines, and habits. It’s clear how much time is scheduled for tasks and how much time is left as the timeline moves throughout the day.
Structured is part calendar and part to-do list that allows you to prioritise daily habits and routines. This app encourages you to focus on one thing at a time and offers an inbox feature to capture distracting to-do items that pop up. These features intuitively guide you through the day and provide a sense of progress. If you struggle with procrastination or accountability, this could be an ideal planning tool.
If you’re someone who finds yourself gravitating towards planning with pen and paper, then Tweek might be the perfect digital planning tool for you. Tweek provides the best of both worlds with a weekly spread that can be filled out in your browser. You can plan and print or print and plan because Tweek offers a printable version of their planner. The creators of this tool understand the benefits of going back to basics and handwriting your plans.
This digital planning tool is an ideal middle ground for when you need something that’s easy to edit and share with others. You can drag and drop tasks and events from one day to another. There’s also a section for ‘next week’ and ‘someday’ tasks. For some, this could be a useful tool for creating a quick schedule to share with clients, team members, or even family. It’s less complex than many digital planning tools but easier to rearrange than a handwritten weekly overview.
Despite intentional planning and knowing exactly what needs to get done, distractions can easily creep up and get in the way of a productive working session. Serene supports laser-focused and distraction-free deep work. You can set a goal for the day and break it down into smaller steps or work sessions. For each session, Serene provides a timer feature with music for focus and blocks your chosen websites or apps. Your goal is displayed above the timer during each season to help you stay focused. This simple and powerful tool encourages monotasking and intentional work. Serene also offers productivity insights and suggestions for distracting websites to block in future based on your activity.