Tax Day is just around the corner and if last year’s IRS filing stats hold true, 14 million Americans will wait until the last minute to submit their tax forms to Uncle Sam. Another interesting fact? It’s not uncommon for people to swap one productive task with another when avoiding important work. See: stress cleaning. If you’re one of those people, here are the best productivity apps to use while you’re avoiding your taxes this year.
Remember when you swore you’d start meditating every morning? Now you can make good on your 2016 New Year’s resolution with short guided meditations by the app’s co-founder, Andy Puddicombe. If Andy’s credentials as a former Buddhist Monk aren’t inspiring enough, his soothing Bristol accent will likely keep you coming back to the app for a themed session or quick “SOS” stress exercise. Feel like you can’t focus long enough to itemize 2018 deductions? There’s a pack for that. Headspace offers a free trial with indefinite access to its 10-session Basics pack and other courses.
Cost: $12.99/mo or $95.88/yr
In the world of personal finance, budgets rule the day. And where traditional budgeting methods fail, YNAB shines—gamifying the experience with real-time insights into users’ daily habits. By touting four rules including “Give every dollar a job” and “Roll with the punches,” YNAB introduces users to a no-nonsense approach to budgeting that feels both exciting and attainable. Go over budget in your grocery category? YNAB prompts you to account for it immediately by pulling available funds from another category. Success then is born from a feeling of scarcity. Have at it, spreadsheet haters. And remember—Uncle Sam gets his own category.
If you’re going to wait even longer to file your taxes, you might as well stay productive by getting your gifting out of the way. Have a long-distance sibling with a birthday on the horizon? The Bitmo app lets you send a gift card via text message within seconds. While app signup is required to both give and receive e-gift cards, Bitmo’s platform allows users to log into their bank account to pay (no more stored credit card numbers) and gives gift recipients the option to exchange their gift card for another brand. Bitmo regularly offers limited-time discounts to newsletter subscribers—a definite gifting hack that’s budget-friendly too.
Finally ready to sit down with TurboTax? Install StayFocusd first. This Chrome extension limits your use of certain websites to keep you dialed in to the task at hand. With over 800,000 users and a solid 4+ star rating, StayFocusd does exactly what it says it’s going to do and that is keep you off distracting websites in accordance with the rules you’ve set for yourself. Set it up for timesucks such as Facebook, Reddit, and Twitter and once your daily time allowance has been met, StayFocusd will block access for the rest of the day—no exceptions. Want to go hardcore? The Nuclear Option will restrict certain sites indefinitely with no option to undo. Godspeed, wild one.
If efficiency is a summation of small, daily habits, a lot can be said for trying the best productivity apps for your phone or laptop—no matter how you define “productivity.” Try our top picks or do a quick app search to find your own. But first, finish your damn taxes.