I’ve written pretty extensively about the apps that I use to help improve my habits. I’ve been studying other productivity experts over the past several months and wanted to summarize some of the coolest apps that I’m currently using to improve my productivity.
I’ve written about productivity apps before (see: 5 Tools To Help You Finally Focus), and I always preface any discussion on habit change with this:
I’ve always argued that strategy is far more important tactics, and that the plan is far more important that the tools. Downloading an app is like taking a drug–we love it because we love quick fixes, but really, it’s not the solution. What would really fix the problem is to create a system that forces you to succeed.
I’ve recorded a short video to showcase the apps I use — and there is a written description below about the steps you can use to implement them.
Apps I use for productivity
Trello is my task manager for handling my daily todo list — I use it to manage my inbox for my work with my team at my startup Behavioral Technologies in Boston, MA.
Trello makes it pretty easy to manage tasks between team members. I can create an inbox to manage all my activities, and assign tasks around. In the past, I’ve used Asana for task management, but this time I’m attempting Trello. We’ll see how it goes.
For the last week, I’ve been using Trello as well to manage my own tasks. This week, I’m experimenting with Wunderlist for Personal tasks, and Trello for Work to maintain a separation — we’ll see how that goes.
2) ScheduleOnce / Meetme.so
ScheduleOnce has REALLY simplified my process for setting up meetings, calls, and appointments. For example, I recently announced in my newsletter that I was offering coaching, and wanted to give free 15-min coaching calls to help out. Instead of dealing with back and forth emails to choose a date, I just sent them my ScheduleOnce link, and they could choose from available dates on my my calendar, and choose their favorite 3. It was interfaced with my Google Calendar, and made it simple for me to confirm or decline
Jumpcut is a simple idea, but it really improves my experience on the computer. It was so good Tim Ferriss called it ‘life changing’ and linked to my blog when I told him about the software.
You know when you copy and paste, you lose the last thing you Cmd-C’d? Well, Jumpcut stores the last 40 things you copied today. So if you copied your favorite restaurant’s address this morning, and then your friend asks the address this afternoon—well, if you haven’t Cmd-C’ed 40 more items, the address will still be in your clipboard!
This app has become such a basic part of my workflow, that when I use another person’s computer I repeatedly hammer away on the Ctrl-Alt Jumpcut-specific key command and nothing happens…
Rapportive is a free extension built into your Gmail window. After installation, you can hover over any email address anywhere in Gmail — and a window will appear that details that user’s general address, Facebook url, Twitter handle (and recent tweets), recent emails, and much more.
It also has some extensions, so, for example, whenever someone emails me, I can immediately tell if they are a subscriber of my Aweber list or not.
I’ve resisted paying for Boomerang until now, but I finally think it’s worth it.
Boomerang allows me to snooze/defer an email for however long I want. I can say ‘hide email from me for 4 days’ or ‘send this email, and return it to the inbox in 1 week if no one responds.’ They make it very easy to do these.
I’ve been using a free substitute for it, for a while. The app is followupthen.com . I simply would forward something I wanted to remind me of to time delay — for example, forward a contract link to ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’ and it would be emailed back to me in 3days. However, this got a little gnarly especially with Gmail’s new Priority Inbox feature — so I’ve switched to Boomerang instead.
It’s $5/mo if your email address is @gmail.com and $15/mo if you are using a Google Apps email address (which I am, unfortunately).
Contactually automatically knows who you have been emailing often — and helps remind you to follow up with the people you should keep in touch with.
So far, I’ve used it to be reminded of people who I had a past relationship with, and want to stay friendly. So, it makes it quite easy to manage my followups by offering reminders, templates, etc.
So far, I’ve opened up some old conversations with people I knew I should keep in touch with — conversations that are worth well more than the $20/mo!
One of my biggest takeaways from hiring employees is that ‘not everyone knows how to do the tasks that you easily do’ and that ‘if you document the process, well once, you’ll never have to document it again.’
I used to write out long definitions of how to do simple procedures — think 10 pages (mostly screenshots) to explain how to simply take a screenshot and upload it into a WordPress post. Lots of work!
Now, I try to record screencasts as much as possible — I simply make a quick recording where I do the process, and pass that video to the new employee.
I use Camtasia for screencasts — it just works well, allows you to add click effects and ripple effects (as I show in the video at the top of this post).
Simple, easy, and excellent.
For this month’s goal, I wanted to use a website which tracks my writing. I’ve decided to use 750words.com, which allows a quick interface to get writing. If you hit 750 words, you get a check mark on your calendar, and you can share your progress, etc.
It has a cool statistics calculator where it tells me exactly how long it took for me to get started and get going, the personality of my writing, a tag cloud of the words I used the most, etc.
I just wish it would let me share publicly everything I wrote for the day.
750words is missing some features I desperately need — like the ability to add images, or embed links. I’m trying to write this for my WordPress site, and I have to go through and re-embed images or links. I guess I could type out my document in pure HTML, but I haven’t.
So that’s a summary of my favorite productivity apps. Do you like this post? Let me know that you liked this type of post in the comments — If I get enough replies, I’ll start a weekly series detailing the best app to improve your life.