In a recent post I described the productivity workflow that I use to keep me on track. This workflow and the tools I use are continually evolving but these are the ones that I currently can’t live without.
Whatever productivity system you use, it’s vital that you have the right tools for you and the way you work. The single most important thing is that your productivity system is available everywhere and anywhere – you need to be “all in”. The apps that you use need to be installed and synced across all of your devices or the system will fall apart. (These are the devices that I carry with me regularly.) The second thing is to capture everything from every area of your life. Whether it’s a favourite recipe, a great idea, an expense receipt, an idea for a blog post, meetings notes, presentation prep, a journal – you need a set of tools that will capture everything in one system.
Here are the tools that I use every day to run my productivity workflow:
Task Management: Omnifocus
Whilst it’s not cheap ( by the time you buy the OS X and iOS versions you will have spent $80) I have found that it really works for me. It’s the only task manager that I’ve used consistently for more than 12 months and I still love it today. Omnifocus is designed to work well with the GTD method but I’ve hacked it to fit my workflow.
It’s worth noting that Omnifocus is currently not available for Windows or Android. For Windows and Android users I’d recommend checking out Asana.
Note Taking & Information Library: Evernote
No surprises here. I live my day almost exclusively between Evernote and Omnifocus. Evernote is where I produce work, sketch out ideas, take meeting notes, plan strategy, write blog posts, store receipts. Almost everything I do will touch Evernote at some stage. In fact, I’m writing this blog in Evernote right now. It took me a number of years to get to grips with Evernote and really start to use it well and I’ll share how I get the most out of it in another post.
File Storage: Dropbox
All of my files are stored in Dropbox. Dropbox allows me to easily share key documents with my team and rest assured that all of my work is safely backed up to the cloud (this was demonstrated when I poured a glass of wine over my MacBook when travelling through Southampton airport a few weeks ago). Best of all, no matter which device I pick up, all my files are easily accessible.
Email: Gmail & Inbox by Gmail
Historically I’ve always used Microsoft Outlook and a Microsoft Exchange server. We used to have a Microsoft Small Business Server and moved to Office 365 in recent years. It was a growth in staff numbers (and the high cost of Office 365) that pushed me to consider using Gmail as our e-mail service. Since moving, I haven’t looked back (I do use it in combination with some awesome plugins like Sidekick & Boomerang)
Having used Slack for a number of side projects over the last year or so we’ve just started using too. It’s a great tool for cutting down e-mail and keeping all of the team communication visible and in one place. One of our value is “say what you mean, do what you say” so I really like to keep discussion in open threads as much as possible meaning that anyone on the team can see what’s happening and contribute to a project at any time.
Over the last few years I’ve used lots of different scheduling apps that have come and gone. The basic premise is that I want to be able to send out a list of times that I can make a meeting and then have everyone else select the times that they can also make and then have the app schedule the best time. I’m currently using Sunrise as my calendar which also has this feature built in.
I’m always interested in finding new tools that will improve my workflow. What are you using to simplify your life?