As a self-confessed productivity nerd, I am always seeking new productivity tools that can help me become more efficient with my technology. By popular request I’ve decided to share a few of my current favourite tools that help me get stuff done. All of these are firm favourites rather than ones that I use only for a few weeks before discarding. Where they are platform-specific I’ve tried to offer alternatives. Hope you find this list useful.
1. Note Taking
For taking notes on my iPad I use Notability (available for iOS and Mac). I’m a terrible note taker. If i use pen and paper I end up with random words on a page that make little sense out of context. Notability offers several features that improve this experience significantly:
- I can type or use a stylus/finger to capture notes. Stylus is my preferred option in a meeting as it feels more natural and less intrusive than typing on a keyboard. The zoom feature allows me to write quite large on the screen which tends to make my handwriting easier to read later. (By the way, my current favourite stylus is the Lynktec Apex bluetooth stylus which has a nice small “nib” allowing for greater precision)
- Synchronised Audio Recording. This feature is a lifesaver. Not only can I record an audio file of the meeting (remember to ask permission first, as a courtesy), but the audio is synchronised to the keyboard/stylus input. If I just capture an unintelligible scribble 47 minutes into a 3 hour recording, tapping on the scribble later will immediately take me to that section of the audio. Love it!
- Import PDFs and Office files. When reviewing documents, it’s a breeze to import the PDF (or the powerpoint presentation) into Notability and then scribble your comments there. I often also use this feature for my speaker notes at conferences, rather than fumbling with notes on paper.
- Files can be easily synchronised to your Cloud provider – therefore it’s easy to take notes on the iPad and then tidy them up on your Mac later on.
- It doesn’t do handwriting recognition, but for me I’ve learned that is just a red-herring. While there are some pretty impressive apps that have this feature (e.g. Goodnotes) I never found it as useful in reality as I might have imagined.
2. Mind Mapping
3. List Manager
4. Reference File
- Great search. Not only can you search text, but even handwritten notes and photos can also be searched/indexed. So now pictures of flip charts are now searchable, as are business cards etc.
- Search Evernote from Google Search. By turning on a simple feature, whenever I search in google, it also presents the results for the same search term from my Evernote library.
- Tags. Although Evernote supports having multiple notebooks, I tend to only use 3 – an inbox (primarily used to capture items that I haven’t yet processed), a Cabinet notebook for storing almost everything, and a Shared Notebook for sharing things with specific people (e.g. research for our upcoming family holiday). I can do this because Tags allow a much greater flexibility over notebooks (e.g. a note can have multiple tags, which therefore makes filing things in specific notebooks somewhat redundant). Michael Hyatt wrote a great post on his setup, and my own setup is modelled from this.
5. Typing Accelerator
6. Accounting (for UK accounts)
- I can email receipts (or photos of receipts) to a dedicate email gateway which makes collating transactions and receipts almost enjoyable!
- A chrome plugin allows you to automatically pass your bank account transactions across to the system
- I create all my invoices through QuickFile and can provide clients access to my invoices via a bespoke URL (also means I can check whether they have looked at my invoice).
- Integrates with the HMRC gateway for VAT payments etc.
- Produces export files with everything tagged to appropriate nominal accounts (makes the job really easy for my accountant)
7. Time Tracking
8. Flowcharts and Diagrams
So there you have it. A peek into my productivity toolbox. I hope you found it helpful. Please let me know what tools really make a difference to your day.Open modal