I am easily attracted to new tools, new promises of productivity, and shiny new apps. But there are a few things that stick around, become part of my life, and general make things easier. The three things below are three things that have lasted and made my life better. You can use these in your work life, in your personal life, or some combination of the two. I’m using them regularly to create more, remember more, and declutter my life.
Todoist: A dead simple, gorgeous app that keeps you doing stuff
Recently relaunched with refreshed apps and interfaces, Todoist has been my go-to To-Do app for over a year. There’s a free version and there’s an app just about everywhere you could use one, plus a premium version for $29/yr.
Here’s what I love about it:
- I don’t think about it a lot. It has tons of features–you can prioritize and categorize and tag to your heart’s content. But when I just need to capture a to-do for a certain date (even at a certain time or place) it makes it dead simple.
- It integrates with Gmail so that you can add emails as tasks. This has been a lifesaver for me so that I don’t lose track of an important email I need to reply to on a certain day, or after I get certain information.
- You can add an extension to Chrome and add a website as a to-do. This is useful for saying things like “send this to Bob” later in your workday.
- It gets out of the way. The design is intentionally minimalist and it lets you focus on what needs to get done.
- I think that I have a great memory but I have a terrible memory. When I need to do something, I put it in and I really do remember.
- When you finish your to-do list for the day it gives you nice suggestions like “Play some music” or “Adopt a kitten.” I like to be encouraged, okay?
Evernote: An app that allows you to outsource your memory (which is good news for me)
Much has been written about Evernote. It’s a monster and chances are you’ve heard of it if you’ve spent any time in the productivity world. But I have a confession: I tried it a few years ago, didn’t get it and stopped. But about two years ago I went back and now I can’t live without it. If you’ve tried and failed, here are a few reasons to reconsider:
- The web-based writer is just gorgeous. If you need to write a letter, or paper, or sermon, or something else, and you don’t want any distractions, try this. It doesn’t have all the features of a word processor but I often use it to sketch out ideas or write things down without worrying about formatting.
- If you save articles or bits of information I just haven’t found a better way to save it than Evernote. I’ve gotten addicted to using it for saving potential sermon illustrations. When I read something illustration-worthy I put it in a big stack in Evernote and will scan through while I’m prepping for sermons.
- I have a “meetings” stack of notes for people I meet regularly with. I modify these notes before each meeting, reviewing what we covered last time and what we will cover this time.
- Again, I have delusions of grandeur when it comes to what I can remember. In reality I only remember the names of Star Wars starships, a detailed layout of Disneyland, the names of my children. Everything else goes in Evernote.
- Jacob and I use Evernote to collaborate. We have an ongoing chat conversation about the blog and can easily share articles back and forth.
ESSENTIALISM: A book about not doing a lot of things so you can do a few things really well
Jacob recommended this book to me a few months ago and I’ve been working my way through it. We’ll probably have a blog conversation about this at some point, but I love it enough that I wanted to pass it along now. It’s not a book from a Christian perspective, but it aligns well with a Christian worldview. The book is built around the idea that we often spend too much time on what really does not matter and only a small portion of time on what matters most. How do we fix that? The book is winsome, has bite-sized chapters, and is beautifully designed.
I’m finding that the book is most useful not as a one-time sit-down read but an ongoing read. I read a bit each week and seek to apply it. It pushes me each week to spend time on what matters most and helps me fight the drift to the tyranny of the urgent.
What about you?
What are your favorite productivity tools? Apps? Books? Leave a comment. We’d love to check them out and keep our recommendations going.