I must admit something. I'm a recovered productivity junkie.
Back when I was juggling two part-time jobs, full-time studies, and a mishmash of extracurricular activities, I became obsessed with becoming as efficient as I could be. Inevitably, that led to burnout. A tool or app isn't going to magically create extra hours in a day. The best "tool" that worked for me has been to only say "yes" to things that get me jazzed up.
The benefit of experimenting is discovering what works best for me. I've ended up with these three tools which I use everyday:
For daily goal setting and note taking: Moleskine notebook
I love the feeling of writing things down on paper. I feel like I'm able to remember things better.
I start off each day by writing the date at the top-right corner of a fresh new page. Then, I list out my 3 Most Important Tasks. These would be things that I need to focus on for the day. Below, I write my to-dos, based on what's upcoming in Todoist, my preferred to-do app. Throughout the day, I'll use my notebook to jot down any random thoughts, reflections or ideas that pop into my mind.
During meetings and conferences, I usually choose to leave my laptop closed and write notes by hand. It helps me feel more connected to the speaker.
When the day ends, I do a review and reflect on what’s been accomplished. I add any pending to-dos to Todoist. Then, I start planning for the next day by forecasting what tomorrow’s Most Important Tasks might be.
For scheduling and keeping organized: Google Calendar
I live by my calendar! My day usually starts and ends with a peek at my calendar app on my Android Nexus 5. I like to plan my day and block off focused working time. Everything goes into my calendar, from meetings to travel time to get-togethers with friends.
Side story: On our first date, my boyfriend and I expressed our mutual love for Google Calendar. I think this might’ve been a reason we hit it off so well!
For to-dos: Todoist
I’ve been using Todoist for over a year, and it’s the app that’s stuck through all my experiments. There’s many things to love about Todoist. What seals the deal for me are features like the Google Calendar integration, Quick Add, and availability on both my MacBook and Android phone.
Apart from my day-to-day todos, I have a folder called “Someday/Maybe” and sub-folders like “To Read”, “To Watch”, “To Learn”, and more.
Here's an assortment of apps that are part of my productivity workflow.
- Dropbox: for storing my files and documents. I’ve also set all cellphone photos to automatically backup to Dropbox
- Evernote: storage for anything that can be referenced down the road. For example, if I spot a place I’d love to visit, I use the Evernote’s Chrome extension to clip the article and send it to my “Travels” notebook along with any notes to make it easy to search for
- Google Drive: for spreadsheets. This is where I keep trackers for budgeting, yearly goal setting, and health
- Pushbullet: easily send links and documents between my Android phone and MacBook. I also like that I can receive and send SMS text messages right on my browser
- 1-Click Timer: a simple browser app that helps me stay focused
- Feedly, Pocket, and Buffer: my favourite combination for reading and sharing articles. I’ve also got an IFTTT recipe that sends posts that have been starred in Pocket to be pushed to Evernote for reference