August 29, 2013

4 Apps I Can’t Do Without

In the interest of getting myself into the habit of writing for my blog, I thought I’d write about something that everyone has an opinion on. Apps. Everyone has their favourites. These are the ones I use that I’ve stuck by for a good few years now after much trial and error with other similar products. These are apps I use for work. They keep me organised, help me get things done and allow me to collect thoughts and ideas.

1. Evernote


The first on my list is Evernote. I’ve been using Evernote for a few years now, and since first using it I’ve been hooked. I use it primarily for 2 things, taking notes and storing ideas I might want to retrieve later. The thing that makes Evernote so great is its simplicity and the fact it syncs between my iPhone, iPad and both my Macs. So wherever I am, whatever device I have with me, I have access to all my stuff.

I got into the habit recently of taking my iPad into meetings instead of my MacBook Air, and using it for note taking. I can bash meeting notes into the iPad and when I get back to my desk update my todo list and email out action points quickly and easily because everything is synced.

I also had a good crack at going paperless since Evernote makes a great document management system if you know how to set it up right. However, I admit, I’ve fallen off the wagon a bit lately and will probably be revisiting this soon.

Things2. Things

Things is by far the best todo app I’ve found. I used to be a long time user of Remember The Milk before I switched from PC and Android to Mac and iOS. RTM is a great app and has a really powerful smart list system that allows you to hack it into a number of different setups, my setup of choice is the GTD bucket method. However, I found myself excessively tinkering with RTM to the point of distraction. It never really worked the way I wanted it. Things was the answer.

Available for OSX, iPad and iPhone, Things has GTD covered right from the get go and the way it’s organised will be familiar to anyone who’s read the GTD book. As well as Today, Schedules and Someday there’s a handy projects section that lets you keep track of multiple items under a larger project. There’s also something called ‘Areas or Responsibility’ but I’ve never figured out how that works. Answers on a postcard please.

If you use a Mac and have an iPhone and want a powerful, simple to use task manager that follows the GTD method, you can’t go wrong with Things.

Pocket3. Pocket

The app formerly know as ‘Read it Later’ underwent an amazing transformation last year and has now become Pocket. Pocket is my go to app for dumping web clips and makes it super easy to save stuff you find on the web to come back to later. Browser plugins for all the major flavours including mobile (mobile browsers require a bookmark hack), integration with my favourite Reddit client, Alien Blue, a beautiful design and all round ease of use means I use Pocket almost daily. Forget endless lists of horribly organised bookmarks, if you want a simple way to save the web, use Pocket instead.

It’s particularly good for saving blog posts or articles you might want to draw on later for inspiration, or even just providing somewhere you can save all those Youtube videos you find and just have to show your friends, but can never find again! Pocket also has a great web page formatter built in that strips adverts and graphics and makes reading web pages a much nicer experience on the eyes. However, if you’re  looking for something that makes reading the web a real pleasure, my final favourite app takes care of that.

Readability4. Readability

The battle of the web reader apps has exploded over the last 12 to 18 months. With the huge success ofInstapaper on iOS came a flurry of similar apps,Readability being my current favourite. Available on pretty much every device Readability allows you to save web pages and strip them down to bare text, displayed in any one of a choice of beautifully designed fonts that are easy on the eye and make reading a joy. Imagine Readability as being able to ‘Kindleify’ web content, removing all the clutter so you can concentrate on the content itself.

I use Readability a lot with Reddit when I find content I want to really focus on reading without being distracted. As a subscriber to r/marketing, much of the interesting content posted there gets saved to Readability so I can view it on my iPad on the way to work in the mornings or before I go to sleep at night.

If you read a lot but hate staring at tiny, poorly formatted web pages stuffed full of adds and graphics, Readability will help you get to the source of the content you’re interested in. Best of all, it finally makes the web easy on the eye and a great place to read.

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