Some might say anyone who studies productivity is a geek. They’d be right to a certain degree. But, it’s important to remember that productivity is a means to an end and not the end itself. Friends regularly ask me how I stay so organized and get so much accomplished. Now I’m going to let you in on my secret…
…it’s only one word…
Defining priorities and values is the only way to get clarity and bring focus to life. I use this same focus when choosing tools and apps to be more productive.
When looking for apps to help me stay focused, I follow four simple rules:
My RULES for Tools
- Do one thing incredibly well
- Available across multiple platforms (iOS, Windows, Mac, Web)
- Near instant syncing
- Offline access
- Free option available
Below are the only four apps I can’t imagine living without.
I’ve tried too many task managers and systems: iOS Reminders, Wunderlist, Trello, Asana, Post-It Notes, The Secret Weapon, and the list goes on.
Nozbe is available on every platform and has a great Web App. It syncs instantly, so tasks and projects are always up to date no matter where you’re working or what device you’re using. Nozbe also syncs with my other favorite apps below.
It can be a simple task manager or molded to almost any complex system. It’s just that flexible. I can sort tasks by priority, due date, or context allowing me to focus on what’s most important.
The free version allows up to five projects and is more than enough to get started. I used this for a year before upgrading. A premium version is available for less than one good cup of coffee per month and allows for unlimited projects and a free team member account.
One final note. Nozbe’s founder, Michael Sliwinski, published a great free course where he teaches the 10 Steps to Ultimate Productivity. This course and the amazing support make Nozbe the #1 app on my phone.
I’ve been an Evernote user since 2009. Evernote’s motto, “Remember Everything,” has changed the way I work and how I focus.
I’ll echo many others out there by declaring “Evernote is my digital brain.” It can store any type of digital file and make it accessible wherever I am.
As a second brain I use Evernote to:
- take meeting and conference notes
- record audio notes or presentations
- search my pictures for key-words
- clip receipts from online purchases
- store research for projects
- write blog posts
- keep a journal
- search for past notes (the search is incredible)
- sync to Nozbe
- and so much more
Like Nozbe, Evernote is found on nearly every platform and syncs instantly making sure everything is available anywhere I go.
Evernote offers a free version and two paid versions. I used the free version for three years before feeling the need to upgrade. The paid versions offer larger data uploads per month and the ability to search within PDF and Word documents.
3. Google Calendar
Chances are that your calendar fills up quickly. How can you possibly stay ahead of all the demands on your time?
I get it. I’ve got four kids, three jobs, and too much to keep track of. Without my Google Calendar synced to my across my devices (and my wife’s) I’d be lost.
Shared calendars and synced reminders are just the beginning. I set up a calendar for each person in my family and shared each calendar with my wife. We then assigned a color to each person so we can see who is doing what, when, and where. Yes, you read that right…I color coded my children.
Now when either of us adds an event or an alert, it immediately shows up on the other’s phone.
But one bonus of this set up is knowing what’s going on in each other’s lives. When things get busy, it’s an extra way to stay connected.
Google Calendar and Nozbe work great together. I can see tasks I’ve scheduled with the amount of time I need to complete each one. My favorite part is seeing the ✔ symbol on my calendar. It’s motivating to feel like I’m getting things accomplished.
4. Google Drive
It’s like Dropbox only better. Why, you ask…Well, everyone uses Google.
Google Drive is my cloud storage of choice. I can create and edit documents, slideshows, spreadsheets, drawings, and even store any other file (pdf, images, etc.) in Google Drive.
I use Google Drive to manage my budget, run my blog, and create most of my resources like my templates. It works great in both personal and professional environments.
As a teacher, I use Google Drive to create and edit lesson plans, worksheets, handouts, and presentations. I’ve even taught my students to use Google Drive to track their learning. Since many schools have “Gone Google” you know it’s here to stay.
Just like Evernote, Google Drive allows me to live a mostly paperless lifestyle. I can share files on the go to be viewed, commented on, or even edited.
Using one tool for my cloud storage and content creation has increased my ability to focus and be more productive. It’s way better than jumping back and forth between different apps and trying to remember where I stored all my files. Not only that, but since it’s a Google product the search capability is stellar.
Question: What are the apps you can’t imagine living without? Leave your comment by clicking here.