As we officially shut the door on 2014 one of the last things I like to do is take a current snapshot of the tools I’m using.
Productivity Tool Trends
First, a couple trends I’ve noticed.
First, I’m paying more. Of the 15 apps listed here I’m paying for 7 of them. A few years back you’d be lucky to get money from me on a quarter of the apps I used. I wrote about this earlier in the year as I’ve learned how minuscule the cost of these apps are – a couple bucks a month – in comparison to the time you save.
Second, this list is getting longer. I’ve added 17 new apps this year compared with the 12 from last year, which doesn’t include many of the honorable mentions I left off to keep this list from being overwhelming (e.g. Overcast, MyScorecard, Misfit & Multi Timer for Pebble, and more). Maybe I’ll need an app purge in a year, but as long as they keep talking to each other I’ll keep exploring and updating.
Of course you can always catch the latest on the How I Work page. In the meantime, here are the tools that made the jump to became part of my daily work flow during 2014.
Productivity Tools in 2015
Activity Timer – Talk about no frills. When I need to knock out a block of distraction-free work this featureless timer has been enough to keep me on task. When looking at productivity tools always remember what the problem is you’re trying to solve, and if a simple app like this works then stop trying to over-engineer everything.
LastPass – I’ve unintentionally moved away from KeePass to LastPass. I no longer need an offline password manager the way I used to and the mobile app version of LastPass is becoming a must.
OmniGraffle – I’ve finally freed myself from Visio thanks to OmniGraffle, which I wrote about a few months ago. The Lil Pages stencil is one of my favorite, great for quickly mocking up user flows and story boards for product designs.
Siri – I turned a corner with Siri in 2014. If you still don’t trust how accurate Siri is, give it a shot when you text your friends tonight. And if you’re still texting & driving, you have one less excuse to keep being an idiot.
Slides – Looking for a replacement for PowerPoint? Slides is waiting for you. The simplicity forces you to build your slides quicker and make them look better. No more marching ants please.
Songza – Songza belongs on a list of productivity tools thanks to how much I listen to music while reading or working. Songza beats out the many competitors because it’s free, mobile and curated by people (not algorithms!).
Spritzlet – Do you read a ton on the web too? The Spritzlet bookmarklet changes how you read web content. I’ve been able to get my speed-reading level up to 400wpm thanks to Spritzlet.
UberConference – Not the first time I’ve switched conferencing tools, I did so again in 2014 leaving GoToMeeting and WebEx. UberConference is super simple to schedule, gives you a dedicated phone number so you don’t even need to schedule, and is well-priced. The hold music kills your father’s elevator music by a mile too.
Wave – I’m a cheapskate when managing my personal finances so when Outright started charging I had to find another option. Wave stepped in and while I have some complaints, it’s free and yes, free.
Up & Coming This Year
DuoLingo – Looking to learn or brush up on a language? I’ve been using duolingo to refresh my Spanish the past year with great results (measured with regular tests and all!).
Flinto & Proto.io – Want a mobile app without the actual app? Flinto and Proto let you take designs – of any fidelity – and turn them into clickable prototypes. Think of these as MVPs in Lean Startup parlance. Build out your app in a quarter of the time/cost.
FullContact & Rapportive – These two contact management tools are relatively similar and I still haven’t picked a winner. Reverse lookup email addresses, connect on LinkedIn from your inbox and see what your connections are up to across social media.
Scannable – Sadly, fax machines still exist. However this newcomer on the list from Evernote has made scanning of physical paper documents like receipts and signed documents much less horrible.
Sketch – I still don’t do as much image editing and design as I’d like, but if/when I do Sketch will be my go-to.