Thing 18: Productivity Tools

We are pleased to have Mr Somasundram Vellayan (SG) from Nanyang Technological University Libraries and Ms Rhodora Valdez (PH) of De La Salle Santiago Zobel to share their insights with us. Make sure you click all tabs (Discover, Explore, and Thinking Points) to get to the end of the lesson.

“What comes to your mind when you think of productivity?”

“Productivity is spending your time on working towards your goals,” some would say. App developers have seized on the iPad, Mac, Android, Windows as a tool that’s portable and flexible enough to accomplish the many different things people need to get done, organize task and schedule activities.

For me (Soma), productivity means getting more tasks done efficiently and the outcome should be effective. Here in Singapore, we even have a public outreach campaign called Way to Go, Singapore! to gear us towards higher productivity.

Being productive is no rocket science. Some organizations launch their own mobile apps to improve productivity of their employees, like Orlando Brewing Company has done in this video.

In this Thing, we’d like to look at few of these tools.


Thankfully, there are already some mobile apps out there which we can use to ensure productivity. iTunes has a long array of productivity apps but here are few which you might find useful.

  • Doodle is used for scheduling to get mutually available timings from others for meetings. It has been very useful to find out when my colleagues are all available for a meeting and certainly avoids the clutter of emails! Besides its mobile friendly interface, it also has an iOS app and Android app, which are available at a fee.

Your first steps with Doodle from Doodle AG on Vimeo.

  • Workflowy is a note-taking app which allows making a list of high level ideas and tasks, and then subdivide into smaller groups, without having to mess around with bullet points and pages of notes! It has free iOS app and Android app.
  • Remember the Milk  is a task and time management app.  – besides mobile apps, it has a web app, sync for Microsoft Outlook, and Remember The Milk integrates with other apps such as Evernote, Gmail, Google Calendar. If you are someone who emails yourself of your tasks, you can email those tasks to your Remember the Milk account!
  • GTasks is a simple and efficient to-do / task management app with both local and google account modes. You can customize your to do list, set reminder, share tasks with your friends, family members or colleagues and sync with your google tasks perfectly. With it, you will never miss a task and focus more on real things.
  • Wunderlist is the easiest way to manage and share your daily to-do lists. Whether you’re running your own business, planning an overseas adventure or sharing a shopping list with a loved one.
  • The Pomodoro Technique is a productivity system that breaks work down into 25 minute chunks to improve concentration.  There are a variety of Pomodoro apps available for both iOS and Android.


Productivity tools need not just apply to tasks management and scheduling. There are other productivity tools out there which can assist to achieve productivity even for social media tools. Some of these tools maybe useful for you, if you are managing a few social media accounts of your library.

  • Hootsuite – a popular social media management tool, Hootsuite allows you to integrate various social media networks, including Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Foursquare, MySpace, WordPress. Its dashboard gives bird eye’s view of all your social media accounts and you can schedule your posts, based on the timings that you can engage your users more.
  • Tweetdeck – another social media management tool but this is particularly for multiple Twitter accounts. This is a useful tool if you are scanning public tweets based on certain keywords, such as your library name
  • Buffer – Previously known as BufferApp. This is similar to HootSuite but the difference is its customized scheduling. This is useful if you have a group of people managing your library’s social media accounts and need to avoid flooding your users’ timelines.

It allows you to set specific schedules. Basically, it buffers your posts and publishes your posts at the next scheduled timing. You can also publish immediately or set your own time to publish a specific post. It also provides analytics such as number of clicks in tweets, reaches, etc. The free account allows you to set up two social media accounts only.

Here’s a quick preview of Buffer:

Buffer recently introduced Buffer Feeds where you schedule/share blog posts right from feeds! Applicable for the “Awesome” plan only.


Try out BufferApp!

  1. Install the free BufferApp app [iPhone | Android]
  2. Sign up for the BufferApp account and connect to any of your social media profiles such as Twitter, Facebook, etc.
  3. [Optional] Set the time schedule for your post to be published
  4. Share your thoughts about Buffer and schedule it to be posted to your Twitter account. Do remember to put the #23mthingsPhSg hashtag!
  5. Take a screenshot of your post in the Buffer and tweet it with the #23mthingsPhSg hashtag!

Thinking Points 

  1. Does your library manage multiple social media accounts? Would these social media management tools (Buffer, Hotsuite, Twwetdeck) be useful for your library?
  2. Do you analyse the analytics and time to find out when is the best time to engage with them though such social media accounts?
  3. Do you often plan out your work or take notes at meetings? Would the mentioned productivity mobile apps be able to assist you?
  4. Would you be able to coordinate meeting times with your users or colleagues using Doodle?
  5. Could you use a tool like Wunderlist as a mobile project management aid?
  6. Are there some repetitive tasks that require focus and regular breaks (like filing, shelf reading and reshelving) – could you Pomodoro them?
  7. Could Lift  be used as part of a lifelong learning library program for adults to allow them to set their learning goals and monitor their progress?

Remix from the original 23 Mobile things :
23 Mobile Things – Thing 18
ANZ 23 Mobile things – Thing 18

Somasundram Vellayan Also known as the tall.dark.librarian, Soma joined Nanyang Technological University’s Library in 2007 as a library officer in its Art, Design & Media Library. Upon receiving his degrees, he took on a new role as a Librarian of the Library Promotion Division and as Art Librarian for media-related subjects covering animation, digital film, interactive media and photography. He enjoys working with end users in various projects. In recognition of his work, he was awarded the Library Association of Singapore’s Outstanding Newcomer Award by the President of Republic of Singapore in 2013. He is also actively involved in community projects for the local Indian community in Singapore. Follow him on Twitter @sundram_v

Rhodora Valdez Rhodora Espiritu-Valdez works as a Librarian at the Learning Resource Center of De La Salle Zobel. She is the adviser of the DLSZ Green Bloggers Club and considers herself an advocate for reading and literacy.Rhodora is also a storyteller, puppeteer and backpacker.

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