Now, if I were writing a run of the mill productivity blog helping you hack away at your (already) beautiful life, then I’d probably start off this post with something along the lines of: “people often ask…”.
But let’s be honest – that simply ain’t true. And this ain’t no run of the mill productivity blog.
The truth is that no normal person has the time to read about – and, more importantly, actually try – the swaths of tips, apps, extensions and recipes released into the interweb every week. They’re too busy getting actual work done.
Having said that, it’s important to check in once in awhile. Your dream app may have come to life while you’ve been clacking away on Word.
With that in mind, I’ve put together a handy shortlist of the tools and resources I couldn’t live without.1 This page is updated monthly, so check back!
Feel like there's a gem missing from the list? Let me know by dropping a message in the comment section.
Last Updated: 16 April 2016
To be honest, I’ve never been a big Evernote fan. It’s too bloated and there are too many features for my needs. I recently discovered the brilliance of Ulysses, a lightweight writing app for Mac and iOS. Ulysses is the next logical step for fans of distraction-free writing apps like AI Writer (a previous favourite of mine).
As well as all of the features you’d expect from a top notch writing app, Ulysses features slick export options (from pdf and eBooks to publishing direct to your Medium account), iCloud syncing, and a simple organisational system. Great app well worth a look for anyone needing some inspiration to get writing, and a bit of budget to play with ($44.99 for Mac, $19.99 for iOS).
Mac App Store | iOS
If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times: there’s a Slack alternative that does team messaging better. Flowdock is a fully loaded messaging app for teams that handles intra-team communication like a dream. The biggest difference between Flowdock and it’s buzzy counterpart? Conversation threading. It may sound like a small detail, but it makes all the difference with large teams and high volumes of unrelated conversations. Tuning out the noise is the name of the game after all.
In fairness to Slack, the building wave of the brilliant bots and the community hack make for a terribly cool platform. But for pure and simple messaging with workmates, Flowdock is your best bet.
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Video chat care of your neighbourhood tech giant is under threat. Appear.in is an easy to use, instant connection that doesn’t require you to sign in to anything. Just set up a room and share the link to start a call. Done.
Web | iOS
I’ve tried just about every task manager available and Asana still gets my vote. There is a huge amount of potential in Asana for larger teams, but it also makes for the perfect to-do list if you’re working solo. The trick, as with most things, is to keep things simple. Work from the My Tasks view and avoid the temptation of creating too many Projects. If you’re working in a team, read more about the combo of Asana and Flowdock to create your own Inbox killer. Also worth noting, Asana has a kickass Blog and Support area to help you get going.
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Night owl? That’s cool, me too. But it turns out that familiar blue glow from your screen is probably destroying the quality of your sleep.2 f.lux is a easy-to-install tool for your laptop that makes for a smooth transition on your eyes as the sun goes down. Handily, you can disable it for specific apps or if you're putting on Goodfellas and need to experience the full spectrum.
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Screen real-estate gets cluttered up quickly these days. If you’re a hyper organised to-do list obsessive like myself, keeping track of all your open windows at any one time gets old quick. I’ve been dreaming of a two screen setup at home for some time now to take away the headache. This is where duet is a life saver. The dead-simple app (designed by ex-Apple engineers) allows you to plug in your iPad and get an instant second screen.
So far I’ve been using the added screen space as a home for “always open” apps like Asana or Polymail. It’s also a great way to have quick access to reference material when writing an article. If you too have an old iPad that would otherwise be gathering dust, put it back to work with duet and super-charge your work flow.
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“Trying to work out what's going on, and what happens next”, Benedict Evans puts out a weekly newsletter with highlights from the tech world, his own latest blog posts and choice articles on a variety of topics. Gives good insight into wider trends in tech which you aren’t likely to see covered in “mainstream” tech media (not yet, at least). Subscribe
Motive Unknown is a strategic digital marketing agency working in the music industry that works with the likes of Run The Jewels, alt-J, Moby, The AIM Independent Music Awards, and many more. Founder Darren Hemmings curates a daily newsletter which (sent Monday-Friday) with news highlights in the world of music, tech and apps. Great way to get a quick synopsis of top articles and save yourself a lot of trawling time. Subscribe