Whether you're looking for ways to make your smartphone work harder for you, or a browser add-on to improve the way you work online, I've tested and can recommend a few solid apps worth downloading.

1. Headspace

The daily practice of quieting your mind, paying attention to your breathing, and focusing on positivity may be one of the best habits for business people, considering research indicates meditation can reduce stress and increase productivity. One of the top-rated health and fitness apps on iTunes and Google Play, this clever interface can train even the most impatient and un-mindful sorts to enjoy and benefit from meditation. Having been featured on The Dr. Oz Show and The Today Show, Headspace collectively has 9 million users of its website and mobile app.

Price: First 10 sessions are free--after that, a yearlong subscription is $8 a month; available at Headspace.

2. Inbox by Gmail

Instead of using the regular Gmail interface on your computer or mobile device, give this intuitive alternative a shot. It lets you bundle promotions, purchases, trips, or custom groupings. You can also see snapshots of order updates, flight status, reservation details, and pictures without opening messages. When the app detects an action item within a message, it prompts you to create a reminder. You can even snooze any message or reminder to pop-up at a later time. My favorite feature: Quick replies you can click, such as "Sounds great," "Thank you," and "Here you go!"

Price: Free at Inbox.

3. Boomerang for Gmail

This web app is similar to Inbox by Gmail in that both apps have a snooze feature, but Boomerang is more focused on the timing and scheduling of emails and reminders. And Boomerang's latest feature--Respondable--performs some noteworthy tricks for anyone who could benefit from a shot of confidence when it comes to composing messages. It looks at several factors as you write--subject line length, word count, question count, and reading level--to determine the likelihood that you'll receive a response. Premium users get access to advanced machine learning, which analyzes the sentiment, politeness, and subjectivity of emails, as well.

Price: Several pricing tiers range from free to $50 a month; available at Boomerang.

4. Slack

This massively popular real-time messaging app for teams has 4 million daily active users and is now valued at $3.8 billion. Inc. uses it, and I love being able to see which editors or columnists are online to message them directly or mention them within a particular channel to get a public answer to a question. Essentially, it does away with the silos email creates, while offering a wealth of useful and unique features, such as snooze and the ability to receive a notification whenever someone in a channel mentions a certain word. It also integrates with hundreds of apps for devices and computers. For example, by hooking up Twitter with Slack you can keep an eye on what people are tweeting about your company, competitors, or any other thing you want to track.

Price: Plans range from free to $15 a month per user, with enterprise plans also available. Get the app at Slack.

5. MileIQ

If you drive a vehicle for business purposes, you can take a mileage deduction of 54 cents for every mile you drive for work in 2016. MileIQ automatically logs the miles you drive using the sensors in your phone. You just swipe right or left to indicate whether a drive was for business or personal reasons. A streamlined dashboard shows you how much money you could potentially save on your taxes because of a particular trip's miles. According to MileIQ, the average premium user saves more than $6,900 a year in tax deduction or reimbursement.

Price: Free for 40 logged drives a month; $6 a month or $60 a year for unlimited tracking; at MileIQ.

6. Pocket Casts

When I tire of music or audiobooks in the car, I switch to podcasts as a way of feeling like I'm getting informed while stuck behind the wheel. Searching for podcasts is simple, and the app displays them in a tile format that's easy on the eyes. You can tap the app logo to toggle between a light or dark theme, trim silences from podcasts to save time, increase voice volume and decrease background noises, skip episode introductions and sync subscriptions to the cloud so you can pick up listening on another device or on the web. You can also share a list of podcasts via text, email, or social networks.

Price: $3.99 for iOS and Android; available at ShiftyJelly.

Sound off in the comments--which apps do you wish would have been on this list?

Published on: Oct 31, 2016