4 Productivity Apps That I Actually Use

One of the best things about working mostly from home is the freedom to choose which are the best tools to work with and how they work best for you, specifically — I’ve talked about it before here.

I could easily recommend 40 apps I like of the top of my head, but I’m here to talk about the ones I actually use. The ones I didn’t uninstall and kept on using ever since.

In fact, I’m writing this article inside one of the apps I’m about to recommend — screenshot for proof:

Ulysses has the best UI ever. Also, Inception!

1. Ulysses

Seriously, I love this UI so much.

As a writer, you’re bound to struggle with parts of the process one time or another. It’s part of the magic. I’ve tried many (and I mean MANY) while trying to find one that agreed with my thinking process for writing prose — whether I need to write a fictional short-story or a good article.

For this, I’ve tried Evernote, Google Docs, Bear, Writer (from Big Huge Labs)… and these are all good — we’ll talking about Evernote soon enough! But none of them really satisfied specifically for the writing process. Until I found Ulysses and all my problems were solved.

  • The UI is minimal, elegant, and highly customizable; you can hide anything you don’t want in your sight and focus solely on the writing.
  • The focus IS on the writing process; you can perform everything from intuitive keyboard shortcuts and rarely go for the mouse, keeping you entirely immersed.
  • It accepts exporting to many different formats, including PDF and HTML, which will adapt the markup language into the respective output.
  • It has a dark theme. It’s lovely.

2. Evernote

Evernote is incredibly powerful.

You’ve probably heard everything there is to hear about Evernote and it’s probably all true — at least all the good stuff.

There are way too many useful functions to describe on Evernote, so I’ll just talk about the ones I like and use the most:

  • You can create different notebooks for different notes (for example I have “Personal Projects”, “Work”, and “Random”; I use these to take notes and create useful checklists throughout the day.
  • The Web Clipper Extension is awesome, and it works great on Chrome and Safari; you can clip a screenshot, link, bookmark, or image from any webpage straight to one of your notebooks. I use this to save article ideas, things I want to buy, and things to read later.
  • You can apply tags to every note, which makes it a whole lot easier to find them even if you have hundreds.
  • It syncronizes beautifully with your mobile devices, allowing you to scan documents and create handwritten notes or drawings — that you can later edit on desktop.
  • Finally, every note can be as complex or as simple as you need them to be. They can be a simple string of plain text, or a fully-fledged document with images, indentations, and links. It’s up to you.

3. Trello

Trello is beautiful and customizable.

I can understand why something would prefer Todoist, Wunderlist, Any.do, or any other list-maker/project organizer instead of Trello, but for me, it just looks and feels a lot nicer than the alternatives. Of course, this is not a testament to their quality — Todoist is an awesome, powerful, and versatile app you can use both for shopping lists or team-based projects…

However, Trello just works better for me, and it boils down to:

  • I love how colorful it is; assigning tags to each card on your lists marks them with a color that makes it easy to know which task means what at a glance.
  • It’s intuitive — most of it is simply click-and-drag. It feels good too!
  • Cards can get as complex as you need them to be. They can simply be a description of the task you’re performing, or and image…
  • But cards can also carry a due date, multiple tags, checklists, attachments, Google Documents… and if you’re working on a shared board, you can create and reply to comments on each individual card.

4. Toggl

Toggl is simple, but very powerful.

I’m a huge fan of NOT tracking my time. I really, really don’t like it… but hey, we gotta do it sometimes. I enjoy working on full-screen whenever possible and it can be very easy to lose track of time when you can’t see the time. Toggl is a friendly, simple, yet powerful little tool I found incredibly useful for tracking my time.

  • If there’s a premium version or something, I’ve never needed it — been using it for free since day one.
  • You can use it on your phone (Android or iOS) or on your desktop (Windows or Mac). There are extensions literally for everything. Right now I’m using it on my Mac desktop, downloaded from the App Store, but you can find one for Windows too, or simply track your time straight from Chrome with a handy extension.
  • You can create projects and clients and use your tracked time to determine your cost per hour.
  • Or you can do what I do and simply write a quick description of whatever you’re doing on the fly and start tracking right away — no extra configuration required.

That’s pretty much it. To organize my day, save ideas, get inspired, get creative, and stay focused… these are the main apps I currently use.

Did you know any of these apps? Can you recommend some others I should try? Did you enjoy any of them as much as I did? Leave a comment and let me know!

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Diego writes for datahand.