Working as a productivity coach, I’m often asked which approaches and tools I use.
I think it’s important that I’m not seen as a benchmark or ‘ideal’ by my clients, so I tend to shy away from that – emphasising that the best app is the one you’ll use. And of course, my clients’ jobs and lives will be so different from my own that comparisons can be really unhelpful.
That said, I’m happy to share with you the apps that constitute my productivity toolkit at the moment. Yes, they change periodically, and it’s important to see them as tools – not a way of life or cult. Honestly, it’s an easy trap to fall into and you end up looking at everything through the lens of your favourite app.
For email management, I prefer Spark. The built-in email app on macOS and iOS is fine, but Spark comes with some superb additional functionality that makes life easier. And email is enough of a scourge – who wouldn’t want to make it a more pleasant task?! This includes sending emails direct to your task management app (see below), sending emails at a specified time, a ‘smart’ inbox that sorts your emails by type (personal, newsletters etc). I’ll admit it took me a little while to adapt to Spark, but the payoff has been amazing.
For task management, I use Things 3. I used to be a huge fan of Todoist (and I still use it in my productivity coaching and training) but after a lot of reflection, moved over to Things 3 earlier this year. It’s only on Apple platforms, so if you’re a Windows user, I still recommend Todoist. The calming and beautifully-designed interface of Things 3 is a joy to work with. It helps me keep personal separate from professional, works perfectly with my Apple Watch and allows me to dictate reminders using Siri. It’s now my ‘trusted system’ for projects in all domains of life and I can’t see myself changing from this any time soon.
For note-taking with my Apple Pencil, I use Apple Notes. It’s a sort of scratchpad for quick notes, notes from meetings and calls and writing out mind maps. For typed notes and organised project notes, I use Craft. Craft is relatively new on the block, but allows publication of notes so others can see them. I’ve started to use it professionally, to share resources with delegates on my training programmes. They don’t need the app, they just need a browser and see the finished product rendered as a very nice page online. Craft also works wonderfully with Things 3, so I can link projects in each app.
I track my time using Toggl. This is something I only started this year. I know, I know – I should have been doing this since day one of my business, but never found a method that really suited me. Toggl works via your browser or a downloadable app, allows you to set up clients and projects and get a great overview of where you’re actually spending your time – not just what’s in your calendar.
I save articles for reading later using Pocket. It’s a great way of avoiding distraction (and procrastination) as I can just click a browser extension icon and the article I’ve stumbled across is saved for later reading on basically any device or browser.
And that’s about it. Obviously, I haven’t listed every app I use on a daily basis. Honourable mentions (though they’re not strictly productivity tools) should go to Headspace for my meditation practice and Spotify for its excellent ambient noise playlists when I’ve been working from home.
Who knew I missed the sounds of a coffee shop so much?!