Get THE NEWEST HACKS

Post image for 8 New Apps That Have Transformed My Productivity (and given me 4+ hours more /day)

8 New Apps That Have Transformed My Productivity (and given me 4+ hours more /day)

09/12/2013

in Productivity

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

1) Trello

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

3) Jumpcut

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…

4) Rapportive

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.

Rapportive

5) Boomerang

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 ‘3days@followupthen.com’ 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).

6) Contactually

Untitled2

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!

7) Camtasia

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.

8) 750words.com

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.

{ 17 comments… }

Arlen Mark July 25, 2014 at 9:18 am

Proofhub is another very useful tool that I’d like to add in this list. Very useful tool for increasing productivity. This tool is loaded with features like time tracking, to-do’s, gantt chart and much more.

Reply

Nils Davis October 22, 2013 at 5:47 am

I’ve been using 750words.com for about three years now, up to almost 1 million words! I find it’s a great part of my blogging workflow – I work out the thoughts in 750words, then copy to Evernote for copy editing, then copy to Wordpress for formatting. I find that the three passes through the work make it a lot better, even though it seems like a lot of copying.

I’ll be trying Jumpcut asap – sounds like something that would work for me.

Reply

emmanuel September 18, 2013 at 12:12 pm

Hello….. Sir….. I must say that I am smilling already…… I love it all…… Am implementing all of it now and I its helping………… thanks once again for counting me worthy for your visions

Reply

Nathan Sudds September 18, 2013 at 8:43 am

Good tips Maneesh, I use a few apps you mentioned already and plan to check out the others like Contactually now too.

Just wanted to share an alternative to Jumpcut for Windows users — it’s called Clipboard Fusion I would say it’s changed my life too! When I got a new computer it was the first thing I missed. http://www.clipboardfusion.com/

Thanks for sharing your experience with 750 words too.

When I take a minute to think about the apps and tips like this that have changed my own life, I bet it was hard to select just 8 for this list.

P.S. – Congrats on the new island :)

Reply

Muruagn Pandian September 13, 2013 at 10:10 pm

I am always on the lookout for great productivity apps and I enjoyed reading this post. The one app that I started using right away at work was Wunderlist and I even shared it with my team who were all interested in trying it.

Reply

Suz September 13, 2013 at 5:37 am

I appreciate reviews of apps like these. Love that 750 words keeps up with words you use most often and your writing personality. That’s impressive!

Reply

Jake Hess September 13, 2013 at 4:43 am

Hey Maneesh,

Great post.. Was looking out for a CRM service and found Contactually thanks to you.

Reply

Tal Flanchraych September 12, 2013 at 10:00 pm

Thank you, thank you, thank you. Posts like these are my favorite, hands down.

Note that Boomerang only has an Android app, so I use Mailbox on iOS in addition to my paid Boomerang account. Mailbox is missing the “return to inbox only if no one replies” feature, which I swear by, but is still better than nothing on iOS.

Reply

Tulio Teixeira September 12, 2013 at 7:08 pm

I found a similar app for pc’s that does the same thing as Jumpcut: http://www.outertech.com/en/clipboard-history. I liked it a lot. I use Lastpass to maintain and auto login with all my passwords. They have bank security levels. This is a great text expander I use also: http://www.phraseexpress.com/. Instead of always typing “Cheers – Tulio” I type TT. Hope these contribute as well.

Reply

Laura September 12, 2013 at 5:39 pm

Hey Maneesh –
I always appreciate posts about apps that may help improve my life. Through various blogs I’ve discovered some great ones I use on a regular basis. However, it drives me CRAZY how many people do a post like this and say things (much like what you said in #1), “For the last week…” or “I just started using…” ARRRGG! I don’t need app advice from people who have been using something for just a couple days. I need app advice from people who have been using it for months and can really clearly lay out the benefits and drawbacks as they see them. (The only exception to this: A review of something you only used for a few days CAN be helpful if it clearly lays out something like, “I gave this a real try, but ran into XXX and YYY which simply made it to hard for me to use this program.”)

I really appreciated your review of JumpCut – it is obviously a tool you have been using for a long time, and have found to be hugely useful. I plan to check it out.

One more thing – since you are obviously one who enjoys apps that may help improve your productivity, I’d recommend checking out Workflowy. (Workflowy.com)
I switched to it for my task management about 3 months ago and I’m loving it. Flexible enough to do anything I want, yet simple enough to prevent me from fiddling with things and wasting time. I love the freeform nature of it – it overcomes any barriers I might have to dumping information or tasks into my lists. The only drawback is that it does not yet have specific date or reminder functionality, but they plan to add it. I work around it by using a due date tag and haven’t had any problems. HIGHLY recommend taking a look for managing personal tasks. It’s also to share pieces of your lists with others – so could be a great tool for team tasks as well. (My husband and I share part of mine.)

Thanks Maneesh!

Smiles,
Laura

Reply

Stephen September 15, 2014 at 10:41 pm

Laura you didn’t say which program you switched from. I’m trying to pick between workflowy, wunderlist, Trello, & Todoist. Yikes

Reply

Jacob September 12, 2013 at 4:18 pm

Great post! Would like to see more articles like this.

Reply

Donnie Law September 12, 2013 at 2:39 pm

Huge fan of wunderlist.

Reply

Sunil September 12, 2013 at 2:36 pm

Looks like Johnny didn’t get the message.. :p
Great article though, very, very useful stuff here. ScheduleOnce and Trello will make a huge difference for me! Thanks a ton! Really nice of you to be sharing all this awesome stuff.

Reply

Charmaine Clancy September 12, 2013 at 11:28 am

These are great apps, some are new to me, checking out Camtasia right now!

Reply

Mizuu September 12, 2013 at 11:13 am

For me, the kanban system of Trello wasn’t so fitting, so I decided on a much lighter app, with minimalistic look but powerful and organized enough, so I can share and synchronise easily.
I use workflowy.com (with an unofficial Android client) and I recommend it with all my heart.

Thank you for the post, I think rapportive will simplify my life greatly. :)

Reply

Chris Hess September 12, 2013 at 7:59 am

I’ve used boomerang for free for a while now. Great app. I’ve thought about upgrading but I have a number of accounts that I currently use. I do find it interesting that you resisted $5/mo for something that to me seems awedome yet have no problem paying $20/mo for a contact reminder system. I’ll have to look more into it…

I use todoist for my lists and love it.

Reply

Leave a Comment

Leave

  • A COMMENT
  • Previous post:

    Next post: