The Tools I use.
I am often asked, aside from Todoist and Evernote, what apps I use on a daily basis. So I thought I would use this blog post to go through the different apps I use to help make me more productive.
Todoist is the core of my whole productivity system. It controls my daily tasks, it makes sure I am doing stuff that is important to my future goals and it makes sure I collect all the daily stuff that comes in to my life so I can process it later.
Evernote is my go to notes application. I have been using Evernote for eight years now and I have built up a large collection of articles, ideas and reference materials over those years. I use Evernote to collect articles I find interesting or want to refer to at a later date. I also use it to collect ideas and plans for future use. I even use it for brainstorming ideas.
Fantastical is my calendar app of choice for all my appointments. I’ve been using Fantastical for about three years now and I chose it because of its incredible natural language recognition abilities. Over those three years, Fantastical has got better and better and now with it’s desktop app it has become an all round great calendar app.
For years I used Apple’s built in mail app on all my devices. That was until I was introduced to Newton about six months ago. To me all the traditional mail apps looked too corporate and were not an inspiring place to do work. Newton changed that for me. It’s interface is gorgeous and it really is a pleasure to compose, read and organise mail. I confess I do still use Apple Mail at the end of a day because Apple Mail has smart mailboxes where I can collect all the action today emails into one place.
So there are my core apps. These apps tell me what have to do and where I have to be while at the same time makes sure I get my work done on time.
Now for the heavy lifting apps:
I really don’t think I would be a presenter today if it was not for Keynote. I began using it from the very first day it was launched and have never been tempted back to PowerPoint. All my workshops, presentations and even draft design work is done in Keynote. I love the fact I can create outlines, PDF files and so much more with this brilliant app.
Pages is my go to app for all written work. I love it’s interface, and the way you can format documents pretty much how you please. I also use the track changes features to proof read client work and then export as a Word file (as pretty much all my clients use MS Office)
Like Pages, I use Numbers for my day to day office work. I keep all student attendance lists, client payments and other similar files in iCloud so I can access these from my iPad when I am out and about.
For writing books and these articles I use Scrivener. Scrivener is the best app there is for long form writing such as a book or blog posts and since the app came available for the iPad and iPhone last year, this has meant I no longer need to carry my laptop with me every day as I can simply pick up where I left off on my iPad with its Dropbox syncing.
Screenflow is my app of choice for recording and editing my YouTube videos. I love it’s simplicity and solidity. It works, it has direct publishing to YouTube and the way it allows you to mix videos and text is just fantastic.
Now for the cloud drives I use.
I essentially use two cloud drives. These are:
Dropbox changed everything for me. It gave me a folder in the cloud where I could store pretty much all my files, so I no longer relied so much on my desktop or laptop’s hard drive. Now, when I change my computer, I can do a clean install of all the apps, and then allow Dropbox to do it’s thing and download the folders I require on the computer. Everything for both my work and personal life is stored in my Dropbox folder.
I use iCloud for specific apps. In particular I use iCloud for Pages and Numbers files I am currently working on as I can access these directly from the device I am working from.
And now for the little utilities apps I use every day to make my life that little bit easier.
I couldn’t live without this wonderful app. 1Password is where I store all my passwords so I do not have to remember any. The only password I have to remember is the master password and as I use that every day it’s not difficult to remember. With the fingerprint ID functionality on the iPhone and iPad, 1Password is brilliant on my IOS devices.
Another one of those little apps that I couldn’t live without. TextExpander stores little snippets of text I use regularly so all I have to do is type the trigger word or letters and boom! The text appears. I also use TextExpander for today’s date and to correct my most common spelling errors — such as business which I regularly spell as “buisiness” for some reason.
Drafts is a clever note taking app that allows you to send notes and captured ideas almost anywhere. I have a list of Evernote notes that Drafts can append notes to so I don’t need to go in to Evernote and search for a note. I can type my idea in Drafts, and then use the actions menu to send the note to any of my pre-defined notes. I also have some pre-written emails in Drafts that I use to send reminders to students. I do not need to type anything except the recipient’s email address. I admit since I got my iPhone 7 with 3D Touch, I have used it less for adding tasks to Todoist, but I do still use it for Evernote and common emails.
Scanbot is my scanning app of choice. It’s a great little app that works really well with Todoist and Evernote and allows me to take a quick scan of a document, receipt or sign and then send it to either my Evernote or Todoist accounts. Scanbot is one of those solid apps that does exactly what it is supposed to do and does it very well.
Love this app so much. It allows me to listen to my favourite trance artists as well as go down memory lane whenever the mood takes me. How I survived without it I have no idea.
Okay, this one might surprise some people, but I have found Apple’s Podcasts is a solid app that works extremely well. I’ve tried a lot of alternatives, but none of them has been so much better than Apple’s native podcast app that I wanted to change. On my phone, where I listen to most of my podcasts, I am subscribed to Above & Beyond’s Group Therapy, Judge Jules’s Global Warm Up, Paul Van Dyk’s VONYC Sessions and Gareth Emery’s Electric For Life. Perfect music for when you are out and about or just need a pick me up.
And finally for reading I have the following:
I use Reeder to collect all the articles from the blogs I am interested in and scan through these every morning while I am on my way to me first client. Any article I want to read later I send to…
Where I will read these articles as and when I get time throughout the day.
And that is really all there is to it. I use Safari as my main browser on all my devices and from time to time I use Google Docs and Google Drive for collaboration projects. If I need a browser for doing work, then I use Chrome as I have no social media sites saved there and so the temptation to procrastinate is removed.
What you use to get your work done is irrelevant, what really matters is the content you produce. How you produce it doesn’t matter. The only advice I would give to anyone looking for the right tools for them is to choose tools you enjoy using. If you do not enjoy using them, or if you actually hate them, then it will affect the quality of your work. A good example of this is my use of Newton Mail. Newton isn’t really that much better than Apple mail, but it is a beautiful app to use and I just enjoy using it.
Carl Pullein is a personal productivity specialist, presenter and author of Working With Todoist: The Book, as well as Your Digital Life, a book about using your technology to achieve greater productivity. Carl works with clients all over the world to help them focus on the things that are important to them and to become more productive and creative.