If you’ve ever felt like you need something just a little bit more from the tools you work with, then I’ve got some good stuff for you.
I’ve been working on refining my approach to being productive and efficient for a long time now, and admittedly, it’s always a work in progress.
I’ve figured out that less apps are better than more apps. Simplicity beats out complexity for me, but at the same time, features need to be full and complete and perform well.
Here are a few apps that help me work toward achieving my goals, build awesome stuff, and get things done every day.
1 – Wunderlist 2
I’m a list guy. I absolutely loathe calendars.
Seriously, I hate them. There is something about calendars that make me feel like someone is choking me. Instead, I work best by working through lists.
For me, I want a list-keeping app that is super easy to use, intuitive, and yet not too basic, and at the same time not overly complex. I’ve looked at a lot of different apps and for me, the best is still Wunderlist.
I’ve gone back and forth with the list-keeping apps that I use, but I’m back to using Wunderlist. The new features of Wunderlist 2 as compared to the original Wunderlist are a fantastic expansion of the original feature set. Due dates, reminders, notes, sub-tasks and more have really brought it back to life for me, and I’m getting a lot of mileage out of it.
2 – Evernote
I’ve completely cleaned up and revamped how I use Evernote and it’s now probably the one tool I use the most without exception. I use it for just about anything note or file related. I use it to take notes for meetings and calls, write blog posts, store receipts and store all kinds of documents like e-books, course material for stuff that I’ve bought, software receipts, etc.
I use the linking feature to create links to notes that I want to have a shortcut for back in Wunderlist. This has been a huge help in making things easier to find and reference, but this isn’t anything new.
What is new is that I’m a premium user now and love the expanded capacity and additional features.
3 – Workflowy
This may seem a bit counter-intuitive because it’s also a list app, but with how I’ve reorganized how I keep lists and notes, I still use Workflowy for a few things because the way it flows is just amazing.
It’s great for brainstorming and thinking through things and that’s what I’m using it for. I use it mostly for quick-fire thought processes like doing quick goals, and things like that.
I would love to see some sort of marriage between Workflowy and Evernote. I don’t know how it would work, but if they could figure that out I’d be in heaven.
4 – Basecamp
I’ve tried so many different project management tools, but Basecamp is the one I keep coming back to, and it’s by far the easiest one to use.
I was never a fan of Classic Basecamp, but the new version is a really solid project management tool.
The interface is the best part. It’s fast, intuitive, and not overly complex which is a lot more than I can say for other tools, and their renewed focus on making Basecamp even more awesome is highly encouraging.
It’s the horsepower combined with the simplicity that makes all the difference in the world for me.
5 – Google Drive
I use Google Drive for so many things, and it’s my primary file storage tool for all my work projects and work.
I’ve got it linked up to all the devices I have, and I couldn’t be more pleased. Having everything in the cloud is simply awesome making working from a coffee shop, or pulling up a file in a customer meeting seemless. No more jump drives to keep track of!
It’s really fast and I’ve upgraded from the basic service so I have 100gb of storage which is plenty for now, but now with the recent changes to Google Drive I can get a TB for $10 per month.
6 – Gmail
For similar reasons that I love Google Drive, I love and use Gmail extensively. All my email goes through Gmail and it just works. I’ve got several email addresses that all route through Gmail and others that are forwarded.
But really, who isn’t using Gmail these days?
7 – Active Inbox
Active Inbox is a simple Gmail plugin that makes sorting email and keeping track of emails in a task-based way simple.
If you’re like me, you get tons of email (most of it relevant) and you need a way to organize those emails so you can get them in to your production schedule or make sure that you respond.
That’s exactly how I use Active Inbox. It makes managing a shorter list of emails much easier and quicker when you can simply focus on those who are the highest priority messages you need to deal with.
8 – Freshbooks
I’ve been using Freshbooks for a few years now and it’s clear why their so successful. I previously used a different solution that was cheaper, however, they’re now out of business and Freshbooks is going strong.
I’ve got everything I need there and having the ability to add administrative users, or have a contractor track their time in Freshbooks are both great options that I’ve used.
9 – Orracle Analytics
My branded analytics suite is web analytics demystified. It’s incredibly easy to use, insightful, relevant, and gives you all that you need from analytics software: real-time, simplified, actionable information.
One of the greatest features is the ability to view heat maps directly laid over your website, tracking the path of visitors as they work through your site.
The depth of information here is as robust as you could want, while being accessible and easy to use at the same time.
10 – Buffer
I’ve been using it for a couple years now since I first heard about it. It’s just the best and easiest tool to use for scheduling out your social messages.
It’s super easy to fill up your queue with tweets you want to go out based on your chosen schedule.
Buffer is the best social scheduling app there is. It’s just that simple.
11 – LastPass
I used to keep a buried text file that had my usernames and passwords. I know. That’s awful. But I’ve long since deleted and removed that text file and replaced it with LastPass.
I use it to manage passwords with my team, keep them secure. I’m a premium user so I have it on my phone and iPad and phone, in addition to my computers and browsers.
I’m a task list driven guy. All my work revolves around building and creating websites and breaking things in to lists makes things much more manageable and keeps me sane. Even the biggest projects can be broken down in to lists and tasks with deadlines and that is a crucial key to my workflow.
So, what do you think? What’s your go-to app?
image by John Griffiths