While I’m constantly on the lookout for ways to improve my day to day workflow, here’s a few of the apps that are either constantly open on my iPhone or browser window just to get the job done.
Google Apps is a suite of applications, most of which I largely ignore. The main feature that I take advantage of is using their Gmail interface for emails with a custom domain. This means no more flaky website-hosted emails, but rather Google’s rock solid reliability and spam filtering. For only $5US/mo per email address it’s a no brainer. Forget POP forever.
The mail app that made me change the way I use email. Mailbox operates on the notion of archiving your emails. That is keeping your inbox clean of emails as often as possible.
I don’t file emails into folders, instead I leave every email in the inbox until it’s been actioned (replied to or just understood without the need to reply), then archive it. If I need to go back and find old emails I just use the search field.
The advantage of a clean inbox is that marking new emails read or unread is a thing of the past. If a new email comes in either read it and deal with it later or archive it immediately. It’s a much better method than an overflowing inbox of old and new, read and unread emails.
Flow is probably overkill for a one-man operation like mine. It’s a task management application by Metalab. It looks amazing and works super-fast too. The best thing any web-based tool can do is support keyboard shortcuts — for people who obsess over keyboard shortcuts.
Turning emails into tasks can be done in an instant. I’m so dependant on Flow for task management that if it’s ever gone down (or I’ve lost connection to the internet) I have a hard time remembering what I actually need to do.
While I’ve heaped praise over the other applications in this list Toggl is one I don’t care for. Last year after switching from Harvest to Xero for invoicing, it seemed ridiculous to continue to use Harvest (a time-tracking and invoicing app) in conjunction with Xero (an invoicing app) especially with the double-handling those systems involved.
So on my search for the most basic time-tracking tool I could find I ended up using Toggl. It’s cheap and it works, good support for fast entry of times using keyboard short cuts too.
The main problem I have with it is the identity crisis it suffers (and many online services are like this) where the marketing website front end looks great, the current version of the tool looks incredibly outdated, and the new version of the tool looks like a Dribbble shot.
Worst of all is that the new version either lacks functionality of the old one or complicates it, with an updated design which is style over substance. So this is most likely part of my daily workflow to change next.
…and some others
Other less interesting apps include the irreplaceable Dropbox for synchronised file storage (and mobile access). As well as Xero, which is another classic example of the slick marketing website fooling you into an expensive subscription for a dated looking app. Droplr for quickly sharing small files.
I have many more applications for actual production work, but these are the things that keep that production happening!
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