It is safe to say that I am very comfortable around tech. especially Productivity Tools. When it comes to paper or an app, I won’t lie there are times when I see paper planners and they look so pretty that I really want to use one, in fact for six months or so I even managed to use a Happy Planner but it was more about making each day look pretty with stickers than actually achieving anything.
- Computers and Devices
- Personal Knowledge Management
- Online Storage
- Project Management Tools
- The writing Process Productivity Tools
- On the subject of Graphics
- Genealogy Research
- Where I source Productivity Tools
- Any Productivity Tools Questions?
Here though I have rounded up the applications that I use that truly help me to achieve certain aims or just to organise my life on a daily basis.
Computers and Devices
Apple has been a revelation for me. Until December 2017 I used a Windows computer and an Android tablet and phone and liked it that way. Once my life changed due to Fibromyalgia and I was based at home, I took the plunge and got a MacBook Pro. Mac’s seem so popular with Bloggers and Vloggers as well as creative people. Well, I fell in love and during 2018 I switched to an iPad iPhone and my digital life has become completely stress-free.
I have had a Kindle for a few years now, not that I get out or go away often, but when I do it is great to know that I have not just my current book but a massive supply of them with me at all times.
A Window’s Computer
I still have a Windows 10 desktop computer but this is purely for gaming. One game in particular World of Warcraft (WOW). However, next time I upgrade my Mac to a more powerful one I plan on playing WOW on that instead, so will no longer need to have a Window’s PC.
I have used Gmail ever since it was in the Beta form (the final testing stage before mass release for the less techie spoonies). I was completely won over by the simple fact you can attach multiple tags rather than put your message in one folder, this fact alone puts it in the category of productivity tools. Until 2020 I had always accessed my mail through the web browser when on my laptop, for many years using ActiveInbox which is sadly, no more. But, as I went through a recent process of evaluating the tools I use I realised I needed to bring my email out of the browser into its own environment. Having tried several different applications available across Mac and IOS I am currently using Postbox on the Mac. Although this is a paid-for application I can justify it to stay on top of all the emails I receive. On my IOS devices, I use the Spark app as sadly there isn’t a Postbox partner app. I only use email on my phone or iPad if I am not well enough to get to my desk.
To send out most of my blog related Social Media I use SocialBee since I wrote the post about it, the app has continued to grow from strength to strength and it is now an amazing tool and one I need to spend some time making the most of. This was a fantastic lifetime licence purchase. Of course, there are still those times when it is necessary to be spontaneous and use the native app on my phone.
Personal Knowledge Management
There are a few applications that allow me to gather and collate my thoughts and ideas. The end result of this is my Digital brain, I talk about this in the Personal Knowledge Management post.
Vivaldi Web browser
In early 2022 I switched to using Vivaldi as the main web browser on my Mac, it is built upon Chromium and has all the benefits of Chrome without the negatives of Google and data mining. Let’s face it so much knowledge management begins in a web browser.
Once I have decided to follow a blog I subscribe to it with News Explorer (part of my SetApp subscription). For a long time I signed up for emails but the inbox gets so saturated. As a blogger myself this is a tricky subject. Pretty much every blogging guru talks about the importance of building an email subscribers list. It is a hard sell when I don’t like doing this myself, however, I have the option available as some people like to do this still.
I have used Evernote since 2007, it is my digital filing cabinet. The letter’s I receive that I need to keep are scanned through my Printer Workstation straight into Evernote. Special greetings cards I get are photographed and stored there. I have an inventory of my craft supplies. Recipes are saved there. Basically, it is a great place to drop things I want to keep in their entirety.
As explained in the Personal Knowledge management blog post mentioned above Obsidian is the tool I use to collate knowledge. Unlike the documents in Evernote, this is a more academic process, when I want to refine my thinking on a topic and gather information from several sources.
In 2020 I began using Notion as my main productivity tool, In the blog post about it, I showed some of the things it is capable of I discovered August Bradley’s YouTube channel and saw his Notion based Life Operating System and I was hooked. I spent a whole week building my own Notion Life Operating System.
Although I enjoyed this process and for several months I used the system ultimately I fell out of love with the one tool for everything approach. I still use the free version for some things though like containing some tables of information. As tools are constantly changing and improving I may use Notion more for other things as time goes by.
Although not exactly a productivity tool online storage is a partner for much of my Data. Although I obviously have a hard drive (and an external one), we all know things can happen to them. I use Apple iCloud to back up pretty much everything on my system. On top of this, I also have and use Google Drive and DropBox especially if I want to share a file with somebody.
Project Management Tools
In the last update I gave you, I was using Notion for this, before that, I used ClickUp *(affiliate link), I talked about it in the post ClickUp for Spoonie Bloggers. Well, at the moment I am back to using ClickUp. There is something about having a dedicated project and task manager that works better for me. I’m not going to lie as much I love it there is no guarantee I will stay with it. Being a tech nerd I am always on the lookout for the next great thing and if there is a promising new tool on a lifetime deal I may jump.
Although some people say it is not a good idea to have projects and tasks in the same tool I disagree. ClickUp is project management software that is capable of managing complex projects for remote teams and individual tasks. What I would agree with is tracking habits in a separate tool. There is nothing worse than feeling you have failed if you have missed a day in a lifestyle habit (like reading) but having it show as a missed task.
The writing Process Productivity Tools
I have a few tools for writing and if I’m honest I should see if I could streamline my process and settle on a smaller selection. Here are some of the tools I use and the reasons I like them.
Drafts is a popular app in the productivity world. The reason is due to its byline, where text starts. In general, you don’t save anything in Drafts but rather grab it quickly to get your thoughts or notes down then send it on to the place you want to save it. It works well with Obsidian notes and can also be used to plan out tweets as it gives you a character count. I only use it occasionally but I do like it.
I have included Ulysses because if you use a Mac it is one of the best writing apps with a fantastic experience. It is also included with the SetApp subscription, which I talked about in this post. I have used it for planning out blog draughts and other writing experiences at various times but it is not my go-to app unless I am writing a letter.
I have dabbled in Scrivener for a few years. It is a fantastic writing tool. If you are an author, I am sure you must be aware of Scrivener. It may even be your main productivity tool. As you may know, I have been talking about writing a novel for some time now and I have even had a few false starts. The reason I haven’t actually done it has everything to do with me and nothing to do with this tool. There is space for your main narrative and then other areas for research and character development. If you want to write a book you probably will find this of the utmost use. I wouldn’t choose it for web writing but when I finally do get around to writing my book, it will be in Scrivener.
Frase is an I purchased on a lifetime deal because I saw its potential. I will never get complete use out of it because I wouldn’t want to publish completely AI written posts and I doubt you would want to read them. It is a useful tool though to see if I have left any obvious holes in my subject and to help find the best articles to quote when a quote is what I need. It can also let me know how my content is doing on Google and suggest posts I may want to improve. If I have writer’s block I am not against occasionally letting it write the odd paragraph even if I am going to use it as a starting point and re-write it in my voice.
On the subject of Graphics
I purchased a lifetime deal with VistaCreate when it was previously called Crello. It is another app that has grown in ability at an impressive rate since I have been using it. When I need a basic image for a blog or social media post it is my go-to tool. I can save my brand colours and logo for easy access and it is easy to resize a design for different social media platforms.
For a couple of years, I was using an Adobe CC subscription for my graphic design work but the cost was becoming prohibitive. I already had the Photo and Designer from the Affinity Suite and I now have the new Publisher too. After taking a Skillshare *(affiliate link) course I realised that the Affinity Tools could do everything I do in Adobe and each tool is a one-off payment that is less than a monthly Adobe one. I use Affinity Designer for my digital designs when I am cardmaking and I also use it on the iPad when I fancy a spot of digital adult colouring. Improving my drawing and design skills is one of my areas of attention for 2022 (It was for 2021 but due to Fibro and vaccine side effects I lost most of that year).
The results of my genealogy research are recorded in two main areas.
MacFamilyTree is where I store all my private research including living individuals. I switched from RootsMagic, which I talked about in 2018 to MacFamilyTree during 2020 mainly because of how beautiful it looks, but I will write a blog post shortly explaining all the reasons. If you don’t have access to a Mac I would still recommend RootsMagic as the best software.
WikiTree is a collaborative website that I talked about in a recent blog post. Although it is a website rather than an app I would still class it as a productivity tool, which is why it features in this article.
Diagrams is a useful tool for gathering together people into a visual family tree. If I am creating a profile for WikiTree which is part of my England Project work rather than my own family I like to use Diagrams to build the immediate family and Drafts to work on the profile.
Evernote is also used in my genealogy research, it is great for keeping temporary information I am organising into either of the other two apps.
Where I source Productivity Tools
Although I am no stranger to heading to the App store there are three places that I regularly keep an eye on.
SetApp which I talked about in this blog post is the source of many of the little extension apps I rely on every single day. Although only three of them have made it into this main post don’t underestimate the power of the rest.
I have a couple of times in this post mentioned AppSumo. This is one of the main places I go if I have a little spare cash to look at the lifetime licences. These are usually from new start-up companies. Basically, by having faith in the product as it is and seeing where they hope to take it, you can pay a one-off amount, in my case ranging from $39 to $69 (it is always in $) to have lifetime access to the app and all its future updates. I have saved some serious money when I see what the apps have grown into and now charge per month. Often nearly as much as my one-off payment.
I like to keep an eye on the Product Hunt website to see what the latest and greatest apps are, just to see if I have missed out hearing about what will go on to become a new favourite.
Any Productivity Tools Questions?
I have used a broad range of tech tools and apps and these are my current highest-rated productivity tools. Of course, there are so many other apps that contribute to my overall effectiveness. If you have questions about any of these or you would like me to do a post comparing any too tools or giving an overall guide to one of them, let me know in the comments below.