My Essential Productivity Tools – 2016 Edition

It has been a while since I wrote about my productivity tools. The last time I wrote about them was in 2010. Things have changed since then, so I think it’s a good time to write about them again.

One major change I have made since 2010 is that now I use Mac while at that time I used Windows. Accordingly, some of the apps below are only available on the Mac. I’m sure there is a Windows equivalent for each though.

I also use other apps in addition to the ones below, but these are the apps that I consider essential.

Without further ado, here are my essential productivity tools (in no particular order):

1. Google Calendar (cross platform)

I use Google Calendar to organize my schedule and keep track of appointments. I also use it as a reminder for doing things in the future. For instance, I use it to remind me to send donations and pay some bills. I like the fact that it’s synchronized between my computer and cell phone.

2. Microsoft OneNote (cross platform)

I use OneNote for detailed notes and planning. When I’m working on a project, for instance, I write everything related to it in OneNote: things to do, research notes, and other stuff.

My favorite feature in OneNote is expanding/collapsing an outline. This allows me to hide irrelevant parts of a note so that I can focus on the part that’s relevant to me at that time.

3. HabitMaster (iOS)

HabitMaster is the app I use for building my habits. I use it to build daily, weekly, and monthly habits. I spend my days mostly based on the checklists in this app. I built this app myself.

4. Short Notes (iOS)

Short Notes is the app I use for recording and organizing my ideas. Unlike OneNote, I use it to record short ideas, usually in the form of a few sentences. It’s also an app that I built myself.

5. Chronos (Mac)

I use Chronos to track how much productive time I have. Chronos is a time tracker. Whenever I do a productive activity (e.g., writing), I start the timer, and whenever I do something else (e.g., checking emails), I stop it.

The nice thing about Chronos is that I can easily see how much productive time I have on a certain day or month. This allows me to see whether my productivity is increasing or decreasing.

6. TextWrangler (Mac)

TextWrangler is a text editor that I use for my to-do list. In the past, I used more complex apps for my to-do list, but now I just use a text editor.

I like TextWrangler because it allows me to open several text files at once from different locations. My to-do-list file is synced across my devices through Dropbox.

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These are the tools that work well for me. What about you? What productivity tools do you use?

Comments here.

6 Comments

  1. Great post! I’ve been thinking about switching over to a Mac for a while now. I’ve heard it will be better for blogging but, I’ve been holding it off. I think because I didn’t want to waste time trying to learn the controls (I’ve always used windows even when I studied animation design at University).This post has made me decide that I will now switch to the Mac. Habit masters sounds interesting. I need an app like that. Excellent list of awesome apps for organisation. Thanks Donald!

  2. Saurabh Srivastava
    Saurabh Srivastava

    Hi Donald,
    I too want to share a tool that has greatly helped me. It is the ‘Pocket’ app which allows me to save different articles that I find around the web, and then read them (or listen to them with the inbuilt reading program) in my free time.

    It is a very resourceful post. I shall surely try these awesome tools. Glad to see a post written by you after quite a while.
    Cheers,
    Saurabh.

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