Creative Leadership

The Online Tools I’m Using Now

Everyone has their preferences when it comes to online tools, and I certainly have mine. When it comes to work, my greatest challenge is that I hate sameness, so after a bit I tend to get bored with apps and switch just to change things up. A different app can sometimes spark your thinking because it makes you work in different ways. Recently, so many people have been asking me about the apps I use most, I thought I’d share a handful of my favorite tools:

Task List: Things  – I’ve used Omnifocus, Asana, Trello, ToDoist, and others, but always come back to the sleek and well designed Things. Most recently I really liked Wunderlist, but it was bought by Microsoft and they’ll eventually stop supporting it in favor of their new Microsoft ToDo (which I really don’t care for at all.) I particularly like how Things integrates with my calendar so I can see my tasks and activities all in the same screen. It’s not cheap, but it’s a great way to track your task list – especially if you’re managing numerous projects.

Calendar: Fantastical 2 – I started with iCal, then tried a few others, notably BusyCal, and finally settled on Fantastical 2. Most calendar apps today integrate with Google Calendar, so it’s not really a concern about sync, it’s about design. The monthly layout on my Mac, with the daily schedule to the side is really strong. My only complaint about Fantastical is that on a mobile device, you can’t see your activities in the monthly view.

Email: Apple Mail – I’ve tried a lot of email programs like Airmail, Postbox, and most recently Spark, and always come back to Apple Mail. Sure it’s bare bones and is designed for simplicity, but at the same time, that makes it lean and mean. Outlook is way too feature heavy so why waste screen space with things I don’t need? Spark almost dethroned Apple Mail for me, and I still really like it, but they have some bugs to work out with conversation threads, changing fonts, and other simple but important issues. I’m going to wait and see as Spark develops.

Twitter: Tweetbot is my preferred Twitter client. It allows me to shove my Twitter feed to the side of my monitor and only check it when necessary. It’s a nice visual design and it’s very easy to post text, add photos, and links.

Writing: Scrivener is hands down my favorite writing program. I’ve done my last 4 books on Scrivener and I just finished the first draft of my next one as well. I also write all my blog posts here, as well as magazine articles and video scripts. It allows you so much control it has completely changed the way I write.

A Print Tool I love is my Unique Planner – I had to include the planner I designed because in spite of all the wonderful task management, note, and calendar apps, I’ve discovered making notes and tracking task’s on paper is far more productive for me – plus research indicates that you remember more about what you physically write down than what you type. You can find out more about it here.

I’d love to hear about your favorite apps and why you use them. I discovered long ago that when it comes to the right tools, payment isn’t an issue. I’m more than happy to pay for an app if it can positively impact my productivity and amp up my creativity.

Don’t skimp – get the right tools to transform your work!

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5 Comments

  1. These are great!! I’m in the process of starting my second book and have looked for tools to assist in writing. Will have to give Scrivener a try. Thanks!!

  2. This post and productivity in general always gets me going! I just now am redoing my “life system” and finding some fun in the following:

    Personal Productivity
    – Notion (thinking of moving from Evernote)
    – Todoist Premium
    – Just Press Record (great recording app for voice memos that syncs so well with other apps)
    – Drafts

    Team Tools
    – Telegram
    – Slack
    – (looking at “Monday”but no experience yet)

    Automation
    – Zapier – (Super powerful tool!)
    – IFTTT
    – Shortcuts
    – Hazel (Top app!)

    Extras

    – Rebrandly – Short urls for automation (the future)
    – Sprout Social
    – Last Pass

    Always looking and always learning! Hope these ideas spark some new great finds for everyone.

  3. I keep it pretty simple. I use your Unique Planner for task list and creative note-taking – I love it! Google calendar for my schedule, which I also write into the Unique Planner just so I can glance it at. Scrivener for writing.

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