Computers are supposed to be labor-saving devices, but it seems moving our lives in a digital direction only makes it harder to keep track of what we want and need to do. Thankfully, plenty of apps have sprung up to help you refocus on what you need to do. In this article, we’ll go over what we think are the best organization apps.
- Getting organized involves a lot of moving parts. As such, there’s no one app that will help you with everything
- To keep track of what you need to do in a day, one of the simplest things to do is use Google Calendar. It’s free and easy to use
- Besides managing time, you can also declutter your digital life by cleaning up your inbox, managing your e-book collection and sorting your bookmarks
However, we won’t just focus on productivity apps that will schedule ever more work. We also have a few picks that will help you make the most out of your personal life, including an e-book manager and an app that will help you schedule and optimize time with your family.
The goal of this article is to help you free your time so you can spend more of your precious minutes and hours focusing on what’s important to you, no matter if it’s work, family or physical fitness. Let’s take a look at how some mobile apps can help you do that.
Rewrote the article, choosing new organization apps, plus bringing in a new angle and new criteria.
The best organization tool doesn’t really exist. What’s best depends on you and what you want to organize. That said, we try to provide some kind of answer in this article.
The best way to track what you’re doing and when is any app with a good calendar. Google Calendar is one example, though we have a few more in this article.
How to organize information is dependent on the format it’s in. For tracking web-based articles, we like apps like Instapaper, Evernote or Raindrop.io.
What Makes the Best Organization Apps?
Finding the best organization apps is tricky business. There are thousands of apps out there boasting how they can help you get and stay organized, and more spring up every day. To cut through the noise, we decided to pick 15 categories of organization apps and select the one we like most for each.
Below, you’ll find a guide to organization apps that will help you declutter, starting from the most general to much more specific types. Also, since organization can mean different things to different people, we’ve also made sure to include a few alternatives for each category.
1. Daily Organization: Google Calendar
More details about Google Calendar:
- Website: calendar.google.com
- Pricing: Free
We kick off our overview with the simplest tool you can use to organize your day: a calendar. If you’re having trouble organizing your day, a calendar and a to-do list — the next entry in this list — are the best place to start. Just entering a start and end time for whatever needs done is a massive stress reliever.
Of the many calendars out there, we like Google Calendar for people just getting used to managing tasks this way. This is in part because it’s free, but also because it can be incorporated in many other apps. For one example, check out our article on integrating Google Calendar with Google Tasks.
However, Google Calendar has shortcomings. If you want a calendar but don’t want to deal with Google Workspace as a whole, you have plenty of choices. These include free alternatives from competitors like Apple and Microsoft, as well as integrated solutions like Notion (read our Notion review) or our next entry, TickTick.
2. To-Do List: TickTick
More details about TickTick:
- Website: ticktick.com
- Pricing: Free, or $27.99 per year
Calendars are a great start when you’re getting your act together, but a solid second step is using a list. You can use a simple one, like Google’s Tasks app, but our favorite list-based app is TickTick. It’s our pick for the best project management software for freelancers, as well as a good way to manage your groceries.
For the details on why we like it, it’s best to read our full TickTick review, but in short its main strengths are color coding multiple lists and the way it handles tasks and subtasks. No matter if you’re juggling work tasks or personal errands, TickTick has you covered.
If you don’t like TickTick, there are dozens of great alternatives. For starters, we recommend Any.do (read our Any.do review) and Todoist (read our Todoist review), but there are plenty more.
3. Scheduling Software: Calendly
More details about Calendly:
- Website: calendly.com
- Pricing: Free, or $8 per person per month
Calendars are great for personal use, but if you’re working with a team, you may want to use scheduling software. We picked Calendly as one example for this article, though there are plenty of solid alternatives, like Sprintful and Setmore.
Whatever program you go with, the underlying idea is the same: you set a meeting time, format and agenda, then people agree or disagree with your proposal. It eliminates endless back-and-forths over email — including people chiming in at the worst possible time. It lets team members settle quickly on the best time and place to meet.
If you’re having trouble keeping track of meetings or getting the right people in the right room at the right time, Calendly and its brethren are a good solution. Though they usually cost money to get the most out of them, you should be able to get by with free plans, too.
4. Family Management: Cozi
More details about Cozi:
- Website: cozi.com
- Pricing: Free
Another interesting alternative to the standard calendar is what’s called “family organizers” or “family management.” Though this term may seem slightly dystopian — manage your family through the power of technology? — it’s really just a calendar that lets family members notify each other of what’s happening when. It’s like a note stuck to the fridge, only digital.
Probably the best known of these is Cozi, a free program that lets you plan the kids’ chores and keep an eye on who needs to be where when. The point isn’t so much to make your family into an efficient unit, but rather to more easily plan downtime where everybody can be together. It’s nifty.
If you like the idea of this but don’t like Cozi, alternatives include OurHome and Picniic. They are also free, so check them out if you’re interested.
5. Workflow Automation App: Zapier
More details about Zapier:
- Website: zapier.com
- Pricing: Free, or paid plans start at $24.99 per month
Our next entry is an odd duck. Though it won’t help you organize anything, automation tools like Zapier are essential for anybody looking to save time. Instead of repeating the same tasks, like, say, populating a spreadsheet with information coming to you from emails, you can simply automate the task. Our Zapier guide has more details.
Using Zapier — or alternatives like IFTTT (read our IFTTT review) and Make, formerly called Integromat (read our Make guide) — is easy, and you can combine all kinds of apps with each other. For two examples, you can make it so all your social networks are updated when you take a picture or duplicate new documents you make.
If you want to save time, workflow automation is key, and tools like Zapier will smooth out the process, so anybody can do it.
6. Note-Taking App: Evernote
More details about Evernote:
- Website: evernote.com
- Pricing: Free, or $70 per year
Another part of staying organized is taking notes. If you’ve ever tried doing that with pen and paper, though, you know it can turn to chaos quicker than you can blink. This is where modern technology comes in handy, with specialized note-taking apps that not only let you take notes — or even record voice memos — but also organize them.
Our favorite of these is Evernote (read our Evernote review to find out why). It lets you take notes and organize them into folders, which is great. It also offers a web clipper to save web pages to check out later, though our next entry in this list does a good job of that, too.
Evernote has a solid free version, so take it for a spin if you need to take better notes. If you don’t like it, you can always try Google Keep (read our Google Keep review) and OneNote (read our OneNote review) as alternatives.
7. Read-It-Later App: Instapaper
More details about Instapaper:
- Website: instapaper.com
- Pricing: Free, or $29.99 per year for a premium subscription
Saving web pages in Evernote with its web clipper is handy, but for people who need to hoard information, there’s an even better type of app. Called read-it-later apps, these are a lot like note-taking tools but focus on letting you bookmark articles and other web pages to look at later — on any device.
There are more than a few of these, and the lines blur a bit between note-taking tools, read-it-later tools and bookmark managers — our next entry. That said, we like Instapaper for its simplicity and focus on saving articles, even if that means its organization abilities aren’t as solid.
If you’re not a huge fan of Instapaper but still want to use a web clipper, you can check out Evernote and Pocketor even an honorable mention from our best project management software article, Notion. You’re spoiled for choice. Be sure to read our Instapaper vs Pocket comparison guide to learn how the two best read-it-later compare.
8. Bookmark Manager: Raindrop.io
More details about Raindrop.io:
- Website: raindrop.io
- Pricing: Free, or $28 per year for the Premium plan
A step up from read-it-later apps is bookmark managers, which let you, well, manage bookmarks. If you spend a lot of time on the internet, you probably know the problem: you save an interesting site so you can visit it later, but then you can never find it again.
Some browsers, like Vivaldi (read our Vivaldi review), have nice built-in bookmark management, but for best results, you should try a third-party app. We like Raindrop.io for this, as it has a great interface and lets you store and order entries in many ways.
Another reason we like Raindrop.io is it has a generous free plan, while many of its competitors are stingier. That said, if you’re not crazy about Raindrop.io, there are plenty of alternatives, including Instapaper, Pocket and Tagpacker.
9. Tab Manager: Switch
More details about Switch:
- Website: switchextension.com
- Pricing: Free, or $2.49 per month when paying per year
While some drown in unorganized bookmarks, others avoid this issue by simply leaving important tabs open instead. This kind of works for a bit, until your browser becomes so cluttered you, once again, can’t find anything.
Enter tab managers, of which Switch is probably our favorite. It offers more than most add-ons of its type, especially the built-in ones offered by Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge. Not only does it let you stack tabs however you’d like — handy enough by itself — Switch also lets you sync across devices and can connect multiple online accounts.
Though it’s not the app for everybody — some people just kill their tabs, believe it or not — if you’re a compulsive tab-opener, Switch is the organization app for you. The free plan should serve you well enough, too, so there’s no cost involved.
10. Password Manager: 1Password
More details about 1Password:
- Website: 1password.com
- Pricing: $2.99 per month
Another important aspect of online life is keeping track of your online accounts — no matter how trivial the service, it seems you need an account for it nowadays. This is where password managers come in. They let you securely store all your account logins and passwords so you can’t forget them.
They’re a huge help, especially since they enable you to use more complicated passwords as there’s no risk of forgetting them. Our favorite password manager is 1Password, thanks to its great interface and even better security. The downside, as we mention in our 1Password review, is it doesn’t have a free plan, which is a shame.
If you’d prefer another option, though, check out our roundup of the best password managers. You’re sure to find one that fits your needs.
11. Time-Tracking App: ATracker
More details about ATracker:
- Website: atracker.pro
- Pricing: Free; paid plans start at $2.99 per month
One part of better organizing your life is figuring out how you spend your time. Time-tracking apps can help with that and, hopefully, help you figure out where to improve. We picked ATracker as our example as it lets you track any activity at any time and will let you know when things are taking too long, or if you’re ahead of schedule.
If you’re not a fan of ATracker, you have plenty of other options. One is Harvest, which you may remember from our Asana review as the built-in way to track your hours for that program. Another is Toggl Track, which comes with a full suite, including a calendar and task management options. Whichever you choose, you’ll be on top of your time.
12. Inbox Cleanup: Clean Email
More details about Clean Email:
- Website: clean.email
- Pricing: Plans start at $29.99 per year
One big issue for almost anybody in the modern office environment is emails. No matter what you do, your inbox seems to always be overflowing, and most of it is unsolicited crap. This is where Clean Email comes in, the only app of its kind. It will go through your inbox based on criteria you select and take out the trash. We love it.
Clean Email won’t just start deleting emails willy-nilly, of course. You can set it so only certain emails get thrown out. It’s easy to use, and the only downside we can see is it’s a paid service. Then again, when it works this well, why give it away?
13. Contact Management: Contacts+
More details about Contacts+:
- Website: contactsplus.com
- Pricing: Free, or $8.33 per month
Another aspect of working online is your contacts list quickly becomes too big to handle. Google Contacts — the built-in manager that comes with Gmail and the like — does a decent job of managing your contacts, but if you need something more efficient or don’t use Google products, you may want to give Contacts+ a spin.
Not only does Contacts+ make managing contacts easier, it also actively hunts down duplicates and merges the information. On top of that, it checks whether the information in each entry is still correct and gives you the ability to scan business cards and immediately store that information.
While Contacts+ is meant for a niche market, we can’t argue with its excellent feature set. If your job revolves around meeting people, this is a good app to have.
14. Expense Tracker: Intuit Mint
More details about Intuit Mint:
- Website: mint.intuit.com
- Pricing: Free
Now that we have an idea of how to best organize your online life, let’s take a brief peek at a real-world issue: money. Many of us will at some point struggle to make ends meet and when you’re in a tight spot, it can be tricky to figure out what you have and how best to spend it.
An expense tracker can come in handy at times like these, and we like Mint a lot. For one, it’s free, so it won’t add extra expenses. It also comes with a nice interface that lets you separate money flows into things like rent, food and gas money, while also allowing you to set goals for when you manage to save a few bucks.
As an Intuit product, though, we get the feeling Mint is geared toward steering you toward the company’s paid services, like TurboTax and QuickBooks Online. If you’re not comfortable with that, check out Expensify and Shoeboxed for two slightly less overbearing alternatives.
15. e-Book Management: Calibre
More details about Calibre:
- Website: calibre-ebook.com
- Pricing: Free
We’ll finish our list with one often overlooked part of organization, namely e-book management. If you’re not much of a reader, it won’t be too big a deal for you. Bookworms, though, need to have a way to keep track of their e-books, especially if they’re not using a Kindle or trying to break away from Amazon’s stranglehold on the e-book market.
Enter Calibre, which is great and easily leaves its next best competitor, Alfa Ebooks Manager, in the dust. Not only can you sort books by title, author and genre, you can also manipulate the metadata for each title and organize them that way.
If that’s not enough, Calibre can also be used to remove DRM from Kindle books as well as convert different e-book formats. On top of all that, Calibre is also open source and free, so there’s no reason for bibliophiles to not check it out.
Final Thoughts: The Best Organization Apps
Finding the best organization apps isn’t a business of absolutes. Different people have different needs, and each needs a different approach. Still, we hope the above overview helps you get started bringing order to chaos.
What do you think of our picks for the best organization apps? Do you have suggestions you feel we should have included? Any ideas for better alternatives? Let us know in the comments below and, as always, thank you for reading.