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5 Productivity Tools for Teens

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5 Productivity Tools for Teens

It may come as a surprise, but you're not being very productive.

I'm guilty of it too. Maybe it's going on a Facebook break instead of finishing that essay. Or not remembering that one thing I was going to do that one time -- just because I didn't write it down. Luckily there are hundreds of productivity tools out there to help make a messy life just a little bit more organized.

Here are a few of my favorite solutions:


RescueTime is a downloadable time management and productivity software that runs as a background program. It records which applications, websites, or (optionally) documents are being used the most, and sends the amount of time spent on the computer in a weekly update. It even automatically ranks the type of website or program on a scale from very distracting to very productive. This is the perfect tool for managing your time when working on a long-term project. With the pro version, you can even block "very distracting" sites for a specific amount of time so that you can really focus. Both versions will also help you realize that maybe those Facebook breaks during schoolwork are actually longer than you thought...

You can download RescueTime Lite for free, or RescueTime Pro for $9/month.


This collaborative spreadsheet program blows Microsoft Excel out of the water. Perfect for group projects, Smartsheet allows you to set up a very customizable spreadsheet. You can create budget, calendars, reports, and more. You can even assign tasks and deadline reminders, so that you can make sure every group member finishes their part of the project on time. The downside: Smartsheet does have a bit of a learning curve. I found it hard to adjust to at first, so be prepared to spend a significant amount of time learning the ropes. Once you do, however, it's ultimately one of the best spreadsheet programs out there.

Smartsheet has a free 30-day trial, after that it's $16/month for the basic version.


If you need to collaborate for group projects, but want a way to do it for free, then GoogleDrive is the answer. It's linked automatically through your Gmail account, and has most of the functionality of Microsoft Office. You can create documents, spreadsheets, presentations, and forms. Although it lacks some of the robust features of the Microsoft Office Suite, without a doubt the best feature of Google Drive is the collaboration aspect. Emailing documents back and forth with revisions every time? Never again! You can see the changes made in the document as someone makes them - and even look at the revision history.

GoogleDrive is free up to 5 GB, and 100GB of storage is $4.99/month.


One of my favorite and most-utilized productivity tool, Workflowy is a simple list that you create in an outlined form. The simplicity is key here - you can easily expand & collapse items, add hashtags for easily searchable items, strikethrough items once they're completed, and export lists in a bulleted format. And there's nothing like looking at a blank page to remember what you need to work on. Workflowy works because you already know how to make an outline. It just puts that outline in an easier, cleaner format that's accessible on the go.

Workflowy is free up to 250 list items/month. If you're a huge list maker, the pro version is $4.99/month. You can also get more list items by referring a friend.


This is the project management tool for visual thinkers. Are you the kind of person who has a million sticky notes on a bulletin board? Imagine that - but so, so much better. Trello allows you to make customized lists for project management. You can add an item to that list - Trello calls this a card. Move the card from list to list, or add due dates, checklists, and attachments to the back of the card. Trello is great for keeping track of personal projects, but also allows you to work on group projects by adding people to your project (aka board). You can assign tasks to group members, and even get votes on cards to see which list item should take priority. Trello walks the thin line between a to-do list and project manager, so it's easy to use, but robust enough for complicated projects.

Trello is free for personal use.

What are your favorite productivity tools?

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Written by Lesli Amos

Lesli Amos-profile-picture

Lesli started as an intern for TeenLife during her senior year of college at Boston University. Originally hailing from the Midwest, Lesli enjoys learning and growing in the start-up environment of TeenLife. Her high school years were spent as an active member of her Theatre Troupe, a volunteer tutor, and an avid reader. In her spare time, Lesli enjoys cooking, exploring the Northeast, and DIY projects.

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