productivity tools

Maximising Productivity

Productivity is a skill in itself. Setting yourself up to be in the most productive mindset can be hard at first. But over time, you learn to cultivate a growing mindset. One small action leads to the next. Momentum builds momentum and soon you build a productive habit. Like a switch you can flick on or off at any moment, making a conscious decision to be productive.

But what good is having a productive mindset if you aren’t able to harness it to produce results? This is where the tools you choose come into play to help you maximise your productivity. We have reached peak productivity app. There is an app for everything productive you can think of. From taking notes and going distraction-free, to saving articles and making to-do lists. Over the course of the last couple of years, I’ve come across (and used) countless apps, and extensions, regarding productivity and making the most of your time, and here is a list of the best I have come across and the ones I use personally on a daily basis.

A list of the best apps & extensions

  1. Panda – A chrome extension that allows you to customise your new tab window with the latest in tech news and the design world. You can customise the layout to display multiple feeds from Hacker News, Dribbble, The Verge, Behance, Mashable. Perfect for a quick burst of inspiration from design feeds and keeping up to date with the latest news on the tech front.
  2. Adblock / Ublock – The standard. Everyone should be using this. Who likes ads? No one. Ads should not be the future of the internet. A crowded, over-saturated market full of click-bait, trite, useless noise that distracts from content. If you have to rely on ad revenue for your business, you don’t have a good business plan.
  3. Grammarly – An excellent extension that scans your text and suggests improvements in real-time without actually autocompleting it to something you never meant to say in the first place, like your default smartphone keyboard. Great for improving your own grammar while giving you simple explanations as to why it’s wrong. Smart, intuitive, and with a nice user interface.
  4. Pocket – This allows you to save articles and web pages from anywhere on the web so you can come back and read it later. By far the best and most effective webpage saving tool around. Collects all the web pages you save in the app into a list of most recently saved. Not to mention a handy chrome extension that lets you save web pages at the click of a button.
  5. Evernote – The seminal note taking app. Available anywhere, at anytime. Also absolutely free. Can use with your phone and on desktop. Allows you to create as many notes as you wish. Although recovering from a recent controversial policy change regarding privacy, and a reduction in the amount of features you can use as a free user. Despite this, it’s still the best in class at what it does. Simple and effective.
  6. Dropbox / Drive – Either one of these storage platforms you use, they do the same thing. Although I personally prefer Dropbox. Syncs across devices and gives enough space to allow for a good amount of storage at 10gb, for a free user. Most professions would find that modest enough, unless you’re in the film or animation industry. Great for if you’re working a day job being able to transfer files to your personal machine.
  7. Wetransfer – Perfect for sending people large files that won’t attach to email. Simple and easy.
  8. Wunderlist / Todoist – Both top of their game, respectively. A checklist / to-do list style app that are both simple, clean and straight to the point. Although you can do similar things in Evernote (mentioned above), their main focus is lists and how to complete them, they offer reminders and notes to accompany each list.
  9. Coffitivity / A Soft Murmur – The perfect tool to get you in the mood to complete your task. You have the tools down, but you need the ambience, this is where these platforms come in. Coffitivity plays ambient sounds from coffee houses / cafes. Just the right amount to help feel like your working in a bustling environment surrounded by people. Distraction free, loops perpetually, and gives you a sense of movement even if you’re working in isolation.
  10. Ommwriter – If Cofficitivy is to your productivity, then Ommwriter is to your distraction. It’s a tool that offers distraction free writing. As I have said before. It’s all about writing. So if you want to write a lot of content, with no distracting tools hanging around the edges, the multiple sub-menus and formatting tools of traditional writers, then this is the tool for you.

Notable mentions – 1 password, F.Lux, Google URL Shortener, WhatFont / ColorZilla, Momentum, Simple Countdown, Caffeine.

These tools are some of the best there are out there at what they do, they promise to make you a more productive person. But what are productivity tools, if you don’t use them? They were created to help your workflow, create valuable content faster, and help you work better. Some are paid, others are not. Trial and error will see you through. Some processes you may have your own tools for that you like to use, ones that are probably not mentioned here. Everyone is different.

The best process is the one you know.

If you do your work a different way t someone else, it’s not their responsibility to tell you that you’re doing it wrong. It’s easy to get distracted with the tools themselves, to consume and try to learn them all at one time can be a distraction in itself (meta, right?). Introduce a new tool to your process to see if it enhances your work life, then when you make a decision on one, move to the next. Pick and choose what works best for you.

Remember, no tool will ever do the work for you. You will need to sit down and do the hard work yourself.