A big part of describing how I achieve tasks and progress towards goals on a day to day level is going to be based entirely on the applications I use to get those tasks completed. What is the correct approach to productivity?
The one area we can all agree on when it comes to productivity is that there's no one solution that fits every size and need. What I describe here on this site may be completely different to your thoughts, experiences or things you've read on other sites. It is that nature of uniqueness however that makes this an ever changing layer we can adapt to. And we are an adaptive species after all.
The solutions I use today are not necessarily the solutions I'll be using in 6 months. I do not change my system every month, but every 4 months I do a review of things that are working for me, or not. While it can be argued that it doesn't make sense to spend most of your time trying out new tools to help you with productivity, you have to understand and be open to change.
Companies are spending hundreds of hours (and thousands of dollars) to bring you the next greatest tool. If you're not open to that change, you may never discover something that could help you achieve more, in a more efficient way. I know this because I work for a company that's doing exactly that; building a product to shape and change the way you work to achieve things.
Before we start diving deep into the in-depth tips that may or may not find a place in your way forward with productivity, I'd like to introduce a series of posts called: The Way I Work.
I am intentionally keeping the I in there because it's a system I have worked very hard on; it works for me but it may not necessarily work for others. The problem with searching for "productivity tips" online is that a list of "8 things the most successful CEOs do before 8am" is a list that's not going to help you achieve your plans, goals and tasks. It's not tailored for you and to the way you work. That is precisely why I offer a one-to-one productivity course.
Like you, I have many roles to play in life and the one that consumes my weekdays is my full time job as a Senior Consultant in the Mobile Device Management space. I am fortunate enough to work from home, for a company I love. Like you, I have many responsibilities. I use a variety of apps to assist me with every responsibility I hold.
This post is inspired by a good friend and an aficionado in the productivity sphere: Lee Garrett (@myproductivemac):
If you want to know the top apps I'm using currently, check my Current Apps page - ow.ly/Zt1e5
Lee's post on his current apps is an excellent and simple take into the software he's currently using for the different tasks, responsibilities and goals he wants to achieve. Taking that idea as the inspiration for this post, I will list out my software and hardware below. This is the basis of this The Way I Work series and over the next few weeks, I'll be diving deep into each area and application.
My daily drivers are:
- Mid 2015 MacBook Pro Retina 15" with 16GB RAM and 256GB SSD
- iPhone 6s 128GB
- iPad Air 128GB (wifi and cellular)
I do most of my work on the MacBook during the day and have my iPhone with me all the time. Over the past few weeks, I have been experimenting with using my iPhone and iPad for 90% of the work I do on a daily basis. I also have not gone down the iPad Pro route yet (even though I really want one), until there's a bigger capacity available and 3D Touch.
Majority of these applications are for both iOS and Mac OS. Until I go iOS only (which isn't far away if Apple bring Xcode, the developer utility to the iPad this year), having a Mac equivalent is a key factor in determining my applications of choice.
All of my tasks and projects get put into 2Do.
I manage my personal, business and corporate email accounts in Outlook. I'm currently in a battle between Outlook and Mail.app to see which I prefer in the long run.
Any meeting, reference and other important notes are in this newly refreshed Apple Notes.
The storage for all of my documents.
The app that got me into the habit of keeping a journal. I have over 6,000 journal entries over 2 and a half years in Day One.
Any text on my iOS device will always start in Drafts, whether it's emails, tweets or tasks.
I use Hours for tracking how I spend my time on meetings and projects.
This is the only application I can imagine using for storing my passwords for all sites and applications. I also have wireless router passwords and software licenses in here.
I am enabling offsite backups of a few Macs with Backblaze.
I am automating as much as I can on my iOS devices for the things I do regularly with Workflow.
A way to manage daily habits on my iOS device.
Important things (like links and pieces of text) to keep in sync between devices with a very handy third-party keyboard on iOS.
This is of course not every single app or service I use on a daily basis, but this is an exhaustive list that makes up majority of how I get my work done, with different areas of focus. A lot of the applications in use here tie in together. For example, a project in 2Do will have a link to a Trello card for keeping up with progress on that project. Meetings for that project will go into Apple Notes and tracking how long that meeting was will go into Hours.
It is important to note that being productive does not involve a complex system of hundreds of applications; productivity comes with different areas of focus.
Over the next few weeks, I'll be adding to this series, detailing different ways I use the applications listed above to make my way through tasks, projects and goals on a daily basis.