During this lockdown, I’ve been reading and watching some videos about digital productivity and how to improve my daily work and procrastinate a bit less.
I’ll share with you my workflow, devices apps I use on a daily basis, some of them have changed my efficiency.
For quite a long time, I’ve been an Apple ecosystem user, with the exception of the smartphone. Apart from some work obligations or wrong choices, where I had to work on a Windows environment, I’ve always been a Mac user. Had my first Mac 30 years ago and since then I think I’m on my 8th device, 3rd iPad, and 2nd iPhone.
Knowing that all the apps I’ll be mentioning will be for macOS/iOS, some of them are also available for Windows.
For the last 6 months, I found my perfect iMac companion. The iPad Pro 11’ 2020 just by itself could be the only working tool I could use if the iMac wouldn’t bring me some additional comfort because of the screen size and some apps not working on iOS. If we add a good cover/sleeve (I personally love the Alpha Case by ZUGU), a stand, eventually an additional keyboard and a mouse (I’m using the Magic Wireless Keyboard with Numeric Keypad and the Magic Mouse of my iMac), and of course the new Apple Pencil 2, you are all set to accomplish most of your work.
Now for the apps, that’s another story. Lately, I’ve been trying quite a lot of productivity apps, both on my iMac and iPad, being the goal to have the same so sync can be done between both (and eventually with the iPhone as well, even if I use it less just by the fact I’m at home).
Here are the apps I’ve tested (in no particular order) and that I found more interesting. In bold, the ones I finally chose to work with (for now). My intent here is not to make any review, since you’ll find a lot of good ones on YouTube.
Bear Notes (I used this one for a while before switching to Craft)
Obsidian (barely tried it but it is still on the scope)
Digital note-taking apps to use with your Apple Pencil
Notability (I used Notability before switching to GoodNotes to be able to use a Digital Planner, however, this one has a very useful audio notes record feature)
To-Do List / Task Management
Some other productivity apps that I use and can be synced across all your devices (Apple ecosystem only in some cases)
1Password (Passwords Management)
Moleskine Timepage – A superb design for an iOS calendar
Instapaper or Pocket – A place to save all the content (articles, videos, podcasts, etc) you want to watch/read later
Readwise – A fantastic app that keeps all the highlights of the books you read (Apple Books, Kindle, etc) and the best moments of the podcasts you listen to (Airr)
After reading what is considered by many as the bible of productivity, the book Getting Things Done by David Allen, I improved a lot the way I work and organize my life, both professionally and personally.
David Allen says in his book “We (1) capture what has our attention; (2) clarify what each item means and what to do about it; (3) organize the results, which presents the options we (4) reflect on, which we then choose to (5) engage with”. Capture, Clarify, Organize, Reflect and Engage.
This is the idea that our brain is not made to keep ideas but to create them. So every single idea you have should put on a trusted system outside your mind (…) that you know you’ll come back to regularly and sort through.
Understanding this, I started capturing all my ideas, reminders, to-dos into an app, that later on I can clarify and organize. From a meeting to the milk I have to buy or a trip I want to do someday, all my thoughts, ideas, or to-dos started to be jotted on an app or a notebook. Your brain will not memorize everything or any sort of piece of paper you put in your pocket will do the job and will be lost and forgotten. Once again, as David Allen said “You can’t organize what’s incoming—you can only capture it and process it. Instead, you organize the actions you’ll need to take based on the decisions you’ve made about what needs to be done”.
Another tip I learned from GTD® is The Two Minute Tool. Basically, it says that anything that you have to do will take less than two minutes to complete, then do it right away and don’t keep it for later. And it’s absolutely true. Postponing something that quick to do, will make you lose more time than doing it immediately.
Apart from the pure productivity approach to your daily work, you can take some extra steps to make it more pleasurable. Besides setting up your desk to a certain minimum and avoid elements that might distract you (even more true now that we all work from home), try to have small things that enhance your creativity. Have a plant or a piece of art on your desk. Or simply personalize your computer desktop or iPad home screen. Make it yours. Here’s just the example of my iPad home screen where I created new shortcuts with new icons (in my case I used GoLimitless icon packs) and making use of the Apple widgets to make my workflow quicker according to my needs.
You will find in my sharing section all the references I’ve made here, but first and foremost the links to some books, articles, YouTube channels, or podcasts that have been changing the way I organize my daily life.
In the next article, I’m thinking of writing about online security and privacy and how I’m trying to leave all Facebook and Google ecosystems.