In my Dutch book GRIP I’m sharing a couple of apps that can help you get more done. But there are so many more, and the space in the book is too limited to go into detail. And – most important – I keep getting questions on this topic, not just from Dutch readers, so that’s why I’m sticking the overview on here as well.
I’ve gathered my go-to apps and some alternatives. As always, let me know if you come across something that works even better – looking forward to review anything that’s a possible better replacement.
My starting point for a productive week.
My suggestion: I recommend using Google Calendar. It is free to use and the webapp works perfectly. On top of that: there are hundreds of apps where you can log in using your Google Account, so you’re able to take your calendar anywhere.
- Google Calendar – Google’s interpretation of the calendar (free).
- Microsoft Outlook – Email and calendar solution from Microsoft (free).
- Fantastical – A beautiful app for Mac and iPhone that connects to the calendar you’re already using (iCloud, Google, Exchange, Office 365) and adds a bunch of smart things to your calendar. For example: the ability to easily work with calendars in different timezones (€54,99 for Mac, €5,49 for iPhone and Apple Watch, and €10,99 for iPad).
- Calendly - Pass on your personal Calendly-link to people to allow them to easily figure out when to meet with you. Absolute life-saver for me (free, Premium/Pro starting $8/month).
Stop using your brain as a harddisk. Store everything in a system you trust and save your brain for what’s in front of you.
New topic for you? Start with Things if you’re on Mac. I recommend Todoist if you’re on Windows/Android.
- Things – A beautiful, easy to use app. Doesn’t take much to get going, but surprisingly complete ($49.99 for Mac, $9.99 for iPhone, $19.99 for iPad).
- OmniFocus – I’ve been using OmniFocus for years. Mainly because of the fact that you can customize everything. That flexibility is also why I don’t recommend OmniFocus if you’re new to the matter ($39.99 for Mac, $39.99 for iPhone and iPad).
- Todoist – Nice and simple platform. Most importantly: it’s cross platform (free, Premium $3/month, Business $5/user/month).
- TickTick – Spartan but elegant app. Just like Todoist, TickTick is available for both Mac and Windows. You need Premium for things like ‘Quick Ball’ to quickly jot things down from the Android lock screen (free, Premium $27.99/year).
- To-Do by Microsoft – Microsoft bought Wunderlist and rebuilt it as To-Do. Doesn’t offer the broadest set of features, but it is well integrated in the Microsoft line of products (free).
- Wunderlist – Leaving it here to be complete. When Wunderlist launched, it set a new bar for todo apps. It was bought by Microsoft and is not maintained and supported anymore.
- Remember The Milk – Maybe one of the oldest todo apps still operational. Nice, distinctive app (free).
I personally still love Gmail, and I’m a big fan of the priority inbox feature. Especially the searchfeature: I can’t live without it.
- Gmail – E-mail by Google (free).
- Boomerang for Gmail – A plugin for Gmail that can help you to snooze email, but can also remind you if someone doesn’t respond to your email. Boomerang Pro offers a feature called ‘Inbox Pause’ which hides emails from your inbox and delivers them on a set interval (free for light usage, Pro from $4.99/month).
- Microsoft Outlook – Email and calendar app from Microsoft (free).
- Adiós – This is a separate app that replicates the ‘Inbox Pause’ feature from Boomerang. If you use Gmail, you can use this app to deliver your emails to you at a predefined interval. This helps you get into the habit of only dealing with your email a couple of times per day (free).
- Inbox When Ready – Alternative for Adiós and Boomerang (free with ads or $4/month).
- Spark – Good looking alternative for your native mail app on your mac. Offers interesting feature to deal with email in a team (free, Premium from $6.39/user/month).
For now, I’m using Evernote. I must say that while for my needs there is nothing that’s better, I’m more and more annoyed by the lack of speed and simplicity from Evernote. If you know anything that’s better, let me know.
- Evernote – Still the best note taking app in terms of features (free, Evernote Premium $6.99/month).
- OneNote – Notes by Microsoft (included with Office 365, from €69/year)
- Bear – Beautiful note taking app. Limited features but excel in attention to detail. Lacks compatibility with other platforms and I personally find the lack of sharing documents a dealbreaker (free, $1.49/month for syncing feature).
- Agenda – Interesting approach: Agenda does calendar based notes (free, Premium $19.99).
- MindNode – MindNode is a beautiful mindmapping app for Mac/iPhone/iPad (€43,99 for Mac, €16,99 for iPhone and iPad).
- Notion - Merge Wikipedia and Evernote and you’ll get Notion. And it is a pretty child too (free, extra features and storage $4/month).
- Workflowy - Crossover between Notion and MindNode. Simple and powerful tool to organize your projects and tasks, built around lists (free).
Currently using Ulysses for most of my writing. Like it, don’t love it. I like the organisation of the files, but I did really love the preview and export features from iA Writer.
- Ulysses – Ulysses is the best app for your writing needs. Great syncing and organization. Great user experience ($39.99/year).
- iA Writer – Used iA Writer for years before I replaced it with Ulysses. Fantastic writing app for single documents. Little bit less fantastic for organizing notes (€32,99 voor Mac, €9,99 voor iPhone en iPad).
- Paper by WeTransfer – LOVE THIS APP. All drawings in my book and newsletter are created with this app (free, Pro $9.99/year).
- Reeder – Brilliant RSS reader for Mac, iPhone and iPad (Mac $9.99, iPhone/iPad $4.99).
- Focusmate - App that links you to a random other person on the internet and helps you focus (free up to 3 sessions/week).
- Focus - App to help you focus by blocking websites websites (free trial, starts from $19).
- Noizio – This app generates background noise that can help you focus (free, paid extra sounds).
Essential tool for me. Using it at home to share passwords, creditcards and scans of important documents.
- 1Password – 1Password is a fantastic password manager. Never forget access to your apps again, and more importantly: have different strong passwords for every service you use ($2.99/user/month, Family plan $4.99/month).
- LastPass – Good alternative, and has free tier to get started (free, Premium $3/month).
- Noto - Noto is fantastic. It is a simple app that does one thing: sending quick notes to a given email address. I’m using it in combination with OmniFocus to quickly add things to my inbox (free, $1.99 for a couple extras).
- TripMode – TripMode is a fantastic app that limits internet access to specific apps depending on the wifi network you’re connected to. A great way to make sure you’re not running out of mobile data (€7,99).
- Lungo – Keeps your Mac awake, handy when you’re presenting or in meetings ($2.99).
- Boom – Audio enhancing app for Mac. You’ll think: do I need this? Try it and you’ll never go back (€14,99).
- Next Meeting – Simple tool that shows your next appointment in your Mac menu bar (free).
- MonicaHQ – A simple personal CRM (free).
- Streaks – Nice app to (un)learn habits ($4.99).