Year 2020: Apps and Tools

This year has provided tremendous value and growth in honing my productivity. The growth is subjected to a few nominated apps that I rely on as part of my daily workflow.

I will break this article down to highlight:

  1. Note-taking apps
  2. Todo list apps
  3. Audio related apps

Note taking apps

  1. Notability – Notability is an excellent application for the iPad. In combination with the Apple Pencil, handwritten notes are easier to produce, which eliminates the use of a notebook and a pen. I find it encouraging to use this application whenever I’m importing a PDF document to review or signing various documents. During my initial phase of using this app, I was actively using it to write blog posts. However, during COVID-19, I resorted back to using my iPad to work on my writing and creating new graphic ideas that I could highlight in my newsletter. Another app to consider would be Goodnotes, I haven’t tested it much, but I can’t wait to try it out in the new year.
  2. Notion – A game-changer for my workflow. I actively use this app to manage my writing and creative process. The functionality and usefulness of this app has enlarged my outputs making it manageable to balance my creative process. Through various key applications within Notion, I have been able to experiment with different board views, creating additional pages within a category of topics, and assemble my scavenger list in a table list to manage various pillars of my life. I’ve previously done videos on using Notion as a beginner. You can check them out here. Certain inbuilt tools that I love to utilise are the ‘toggle’, which can wrap away large amounts of information. The ‘to-do checkbox’ provide that instant gratification when you have completed a task. Also, the ability to create innovative templates that play a key role in minimising setup time. This app has truly become a second brain, my capture hub to enhance my productivity.
  3. RoamResearch – An underdog but a recent addition, to the world of note-taking apps. RoamResearch is another note-taking app to my workflow, it’s my secondary component for value storage as part of the Zettelkasten Method. The advantage of creating bi-directional links to gather relevant information has been beneficial. I’m able to manage my value storage easily by assembling information on an author who has produced various works of literature or creating a tag system on a category of topics. It works well with my ‘snippet of value’ section when I’m composing my weekly newsletter called the Monday Madness.

Todo List Apps

  1. Todoist – I would consider this to be more than just a standard todo-ist app. An effective means to capture your tasks that are important but not urgent. A particular usefulness of this app is creating a project and within the assigned project creating a to-do list. This can be monitored with reminders which are sent to your email account.
  2. Draft – You could consider this as a note-taking app, however I prefer to use this as my go to “to-do list app”. I use this app to practice capture habit or managing a to-do list within the scope of the day. The use of the app with an Apple Watch is a productivity advantage. It allows you to dictate your ideas or capture notes whilst multitasking i.e. driving or running.

Audio related Apps

  1. Airr – This app has been a revelation in the making – a recent addition to my productivity arsenal. The functionality of this app presents a single advantage in the form of “snip quotes”. I can save intervals of 15, 30 or 45 second snippets whenever I’m listening to a podcast, which can be reviewed at a later time. The snippets are available in audio as well as being transcribed. The saved highlights can also be exported onto your personal note-taking platform if supported through readwise.
  2. Audible – An alternative to reading, I find listening to books on audible to be an effective use of my time whilst driving. I find myself listening to various fictions and autobiographies during my journey from and to work. An effective means of repurposing unproductive time. Audible also has the capability to “clip snippets of information”, which can be reviewed at a later time.

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Let me know in the comments below if I should be experimenting with any other apps in the coming year.


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I am a writer and a graduate engineer working in Leicester, UK.

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