Being productive is more than getting work done. Being productive is using our time to its greatest potential. By increasing our productivity we increase the return we get relative to the amount of effort we put in.
To ensure we stay on target and are always being as productive as possible we may need help. So, in this post, I've compiled three of my favourite apps to boost productivity.
Todoist is a to-do list app that (in my opinion at least) is unmatched. I've tried countless methods of tracking my tasks and to-do lists but no app or method has come close to Todoist.
I tried pen and paper but found I never have it on me so I missed tasks; leading to reduced productivity.
I then tried moving my task lists to another one of my favourite apps, Notion. But, I found that while Notion is great for some things, being an everyday to-do list isn't one of them. As a whole, I found that Notion is too slow to be a task list.
Todoist doesn't suffer from these issues. It's always with me on my phone and it's quick so I can add tasks as soon as I think of them. Because Todoist is only focused on being a to-do list app, the UI/UX is designed for making task management a breeze.
I imagine I will be using Todoist for a long time. If you're interested in trying it out, you can check it out here.
While I said Notion isn't great for managing to-do lists, it's great for managing other things. If you need to track projects, content creation or anything that isn't a simple list then Notion has you covered.
I use Notion for tracking all my content and projects. If I come up with a blog post idea it's immediately added to Notion. Once it's in Notion, I use a Kanban board to progress all the posts through from concept to completion. I also repeat this for projects and other types of content.
Notion can be used for almost anything, part of its attractiveness is its flexibility. If you can dream it up, then you can likely make it in Notion. I won't cover all its features here but I recommend checking it out.
The final app on this list isn't a to-do list or a way of organising your projects and life.
Instead, it's a way to ensure you stay focused and on topic for a period of time. It forces you to be productive.
Forest is a great app that I've been using for years. It helps you use the Pomodoro technique. If you haven't heard it, it's a technique to be more productive by working in small sprints followed by rests. The standard period is 25 minutes of work followed by 5 minutes of rest. This is repeated 2/3 times before taking a longer period of rest such as 15 minutes.
Forest goes one step further though. It's not a timer like you would find on your phone. No, it actually locks you out of using your phone. If you try to open another app it will close the app you opened and return you to Forest until the timer finishes. Don't think you're slacking off anymore!
Also, if you sign up for the pro version they actually plant trees to help save forests! Check it out here.
While it's great having these 3 apps on your phone/PC, that's not enough. What we need to do is optimise them and our use of them so we can maximise our productivity.
Here's a brief overview of how I use these apps in my workflow.
Every morning I go through my tasks on Todoist and check which ones have been completed. Then I add any tasks that are the next logical step.
For example, if I had a task to write a blog post, once I complete this, I would create a new task to edit it.
This isn't possible for all tasks as you may not know what's next. But whenever I can, I always make sure to add the next task. The less in my head the better because our minds make for bad filing cabinets.
As a rule of thumb, I won't use due dates unless they make sense. For example, if I had a task to take the car for a service, I'm unable to do it until the date of the service. In this case, the task will be dated for the service date. But, in the case of editing a post, it can be done whenever so I will add it with no due date and instead use a priority.
By using priorities it allows me to see all my tasks in one list in order of priority. Then I target the highest priorities first which should yield the greatest returns.
Once Todoist is updated, I set about updating and reviewing Notion.
As mentioned I use Notion for my projects and content, so it's pretty quick to update. First, I check all my content and projects are in the correct status. Then I check to see if I can add any more tasks to my Todoist because of status changes. So if a post is in the writing status, do I have a task to write the post? Or, if I've just finished it do I have a task to edit it?
It may seem like a lot of work managing the two apps. But, once you get set up and have a flow, you find that you check Notion once per day and run your life from Todoist instead.
Finally, I don't have a dedicated time I use Forest. Instead, it's something I use as and when a task requires my full attention. I don't use it for every task but for the tasks that require it, it's great.
These are the current apps I use in my endless pursuit of increased productivity. Now, I won't pretend that my system or these apps are the perfect solution for everyone. What's more important is the system you use, not the apps you use.
However, in the pursuit of increased productivity, we learn a lot about ourselves and how we like to work. What I recommend is building a system around this as it will yield the best productivity improvements.
What're your thoughts on these apps? What's your workflow? Let me know over on Twitter.
Thanks for reading.