Two weeks ago I showed you my Chronodex time tracking method. Unfortunately in the last two weeks, that hasn’t stuck.
That happens with me. I go through phases of productivity where my tools are great and my motivation is high, and then swings of low energy where I barely have the spoons to get out of bed. During these low periods, all productivity and creative efforts tend to fall by the wayside as I spend my small amount of available energy making sure I do things like eat, bathe, and go to work. I haven’t even touched that poor kraft paper journal in over a week.
My digital productivity tools
But I’m on the up and up again and this time back to digital productivity. I’ve shared that I use my iPad for planning and I’ve got some new tricks and tools that are getting use. Part of what I’m trying to set up involves ease of use. Another factor I’m trying to take into account is portability, using services that sync to the cloud and can be accessed from my phone as well as my tablet (and some even from my computer!).
I’ve written before about the digital bullet journal I kept on my iPad using Penultimate – that’s back this week, modified a bit. I’m not breaking time up into weeks, for one thing. That may sound really weird but it makes sense with my work schedule. I have all of my off days in a row, so I separate my time into my work days, then my off days.
I plan out my section of days and then do individual day pages. Tasks are broken up by theme and I have little trackers for water and calories – hydration and nutrition are important! And I have a lot of space at the bottom so I put quotes, usually a line from whatever song I’m listening to at the time. (The one on the Monday spread is from Helloween’s “My God-Given Right”, one of my favorites.)
Penultimate doesn’t have an iPhone app (it’s iPad-only), but because it’s made by Evernote it syncs image copies of your pages to your Evernote account. And of course Evernote does have an iPhone app. (I’m typing this post in it right now, in fact!)
Aside from checking on my Penultimate notes, I mostly use Evernote for blog writing – school work gets done on the computer with Microsoft Word or inside of Blackboard itself. I also use Evernote to journal, collect printables for digital use, and keep track of stats and info for my “pen and paper” roleplaying games. (Everything is digital now, isn’t it?)
The newest tool I’m using is called Inkflow. It’s a note taking app that focuses on mimicking pen-on-paper writing, although you can add typed text and images as well.
I haven’t explored this app to its fullest potential yet (I’m thinking of filling in digital “printables”?) but I’ve been using it for mind mapping and brainstorming to pretty decent effect.
I shelled out for the pro version because I wanted the different colors of pens and the ability to change the paper. I’m a little disappointed they don’t have a dotted paper option like Penultimate does, but they do have an option to use your own images instead so I could get a dotted page if I wanted.
Oh the mighty Trello. For years I’ve heard stories of its greatness and for years I’ve tried and failed to use it on the regular. This time I might just have figured it out, though.
Trello is basically a virtual Kanban board. You set up lists across the page in columns, and then add cards to each list. It’s super popular for development teams to use to streamline their workflow, but it’s flexible enough to be used by anyone.
The problem I’ve always had with trying to use Trello was that I attempted to use it like a to do list. I’m sure some people can make the to do list work in Trello. But I can’t. Maybe it’s because I usually have a bunch of repeating tasks and duplicating cards a bunch of times doesn’t work for me? I don’t know. But I do know how I solved that problem:
I use it for scheduling instead. I have a board of weekly plans with columns for each day of the week. Then under that day I have cards for my main (repeating each week) tasks. When I’m bored or stuck all I have to do is pull up Trello and find what day of the week it is. Then I can see everything I want to get done that day and do whatever hasn’t already been done.
Speaking of to do lists, by the way…
Wunderlist is another app I’ve been using on and off for a long time. My favorite part is all the features that are actually available for free. A lot of other apps I’ve used have certain features behind a paywall. While Wunderlist does have a pro version for $5/mo, I’ve never actually needed any of the features it provides, because the free version is so feature-rich.
You can create tons of lists, including folders of lists, which is perfect for a compartmentalizer like me. It has an Inbox list for all you GTDers (I stick random tasks that don’t warrant whole lists in there). Repeating tasks, due dates, reminders, and collaboration features are all free. Universal apps – iOS, Android, Windows, freaking Kindle Fire (who else has apps there?!), and available through any browser (as well as having extensions for the three major browsers, Chrome, Firefox, and Safari).
I use it to track my work schedule, plan my school work, remind me about bills, and of course mandate my blogging like a dictatorial calendar. (Get it, instead of editorial calendar? …It’s okay, I’m rolling my eyes at me too.)
That’s what I’m doing this week
Do you have any favorite digital productivity tools? Let us know in the comments below or share on Twitter (mention me @thealexidavis or use the hashtag #adblogtalk)
By the way, did you know I have a Pinterest board full of inspiration and ideas for planning, bullet journaling, and organization? You can find and follow it here!