In a previous article, I explained my framework for building a personal productivity system.
But after reading that article, you may be left wondering what the system looks like in real life.
After all, I didn’t mention any specific apps or tools.
I didn’t because my goal is to give you productivity principles and frameworks, not tell you what apps to use.
But if you’re wondering what tools I personally use, well, that’s the focus of this article.
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These are the tools I use in my productivity system
They’re my favorite tools. But they may not work for you.
You might be a paper and pen kind of person. Or you may prefer more techy stuff.
But if you’re looking for some inspiration or ideas, or just curious how a system that follows the TIME Framework would work in real life…
Let me walk you through the 5 apps I use every day to organize my life.
(By the way, this is the Summer 2023 version because I’m always testing out new apps. And if something comes along that works better than what I’ve got—or is just more fun—I will usually switch.)
App #1: TickTick
TickTick is an intuitive task manager that checks all the boxes (heh-heh, to-do list humor) I have for a to-do list app.
With TickTick, you can organize tasks quickly in a clean and beautifully-designed interface.
The reminders keep you on track. The habit tracker motivates you to build good habits. And there are even more helpful features.
You can get the low-down on TickTick in my TickTick vs Todoist comparison (coming soon!).
Check out TickTick to stay on top of your to-dos.
App #2: Capacities
Capacities is a note-taking app that lets you link your notes together to get more use out of them.
Instead of storing notes into folders, you create note “types.” One type might be “books,” while another might be “people” or “ideas.”
Within these note types, you create new notes about things that fit inside that category.
Then you link them together to create a network of notes that help you build interesting connections between your ideas.
I use this app to save notes on new concepts I’ve learned, books, Bible verses, people I know, meetings, and more.
My favorite part of Capacities is the ability to write daily logs that keep track of new notes you’ve made, things you’ve done, and people you met on that day so you can look back on it later.
Check out Capacities to organize your notes once and for all.
App #3: Ulysses
Ulysses is a distraction-free writing app that I re-discovered very recently.
I used it years ago when I started my freelance writing business, and now I’m using it again.
With Ulysses, you can organize all your writing projects in one app, complete with tags, word count goals, deadlines, and more.
Then you can export your work as a beautifully-formatted document or upload directly to your WordPress blog.
There are a ton more features that make writing a book, blog, or other projects super easy.
And you can customize the editor with fonts, themes, and colors, so you have a gorgeous writing workspace you enjoy using.
For me, this means my writing takes place away from more complicated apps like Notion or Capacities, which can be distracting.
My writing stays clean, beautiful, and organized, which makes me happy. 🙂
Check out Ulysses to write more every day.
(Windows users, try iA Writer instead.)
App #4: Notion
Some people use Notion for everything.
They turn it into a calendar, writing app, and task manager.
I don’t really like using Notion for those things, and it often gets slow.
But one thing Notion does well is organize information in databases, boards, and tables.
So when I need to calculate totals, manage statuses, repeat processes, or keep track of big writing projects, I use Notion to keep track.
Here are some things I use it for, to give you some ideas:
- I have a template with a budgeting checklist that I use every month to balance our budget
- I track all my client projects in one database, then filter it into different views to track statuses and calculate revenue totals
- I store recipes in one database and then create views for recipe types, like Breakfast, Baking, and Sides (I also add tags so I can search for ingredients)
Notion isn’t great for everything but it’s awesome for things like this. (And it’s free!)
Oh by the way, if you want to save articles or webpages into Notion, I recommend the Save to Notion browser extension.
Check out Notion to organize complex projects with ease.
App #5: Reader App
Reader has singlehandedly saved me at least 20 hours of time since I started using it a few months ago.
It’s read-it-later app designed by a company called Readwise. (More on Readwise below in the Honorable Mentions category.)
You can save articles from your browser or phone to the app, then read them later in a distraction-free environment.
(You can also save Kindle books, YouTube videos, emails, tweets, and other content.)
So why does this save me so much time? Because I created a rule for myself…
If I see an article or video that grabs my interest, I cannot read it or watch it in the moment. Instead, I save it for later. (This keeps me from getting derailed during work hours.)
The best part of this app is that you can highlight anything inside of Reader and it automatically gets saved in the Readwise app. (And Reader is 100% free, I might add.)
Check out Reader to save time and read more interesting stuff.
Of course, I use more than these 5 apps every day.
Here are the rest of the apps that I rely on to stay organized.
- Spark Desktop – A free desktop email client that pulls all your inboxes into one place
- Gmail App – I don’t like the Spark iOS app, so I use Gmail (it also shows all my inboxes in one place)
- Apple Notes – When I just want to jot something down, I put it here – this app is lightning fast
- Google Calendar – I use this to sync all my calendars with my Google accounts and email
- Apple Calendar – On my computer, I use this to check my calendar (when I’m not using TickTick)
- Google Drive – This is where I create and store documents, share files with clients, and keep all my digital files
- Google Photos – I sync my iPhone to Google Photos so they’re always backed up, and it’s easy to find things later
- Readwise – This genius app syncs all your highlights from Kindle books, read later apps, and other sources and then resurfaces them for you in a daily email so you can revisit things that made an impression on you
Now you know the productivity apps that make up my personal productivity system right now.
Are you using any of these? Is there something you want to try?
I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments. 🙂