If you didn’t know, I’m kind of a psycho about organization/productivity/listing… You get the idea. I also have ADHD, which means being organized and having an efficient process is of the utmost importance to me.
Over the weekend I set up “If This Then That” (IFTTT), a “web-based service that allows users to create chains of simple conditional statements, called ‘recipes’, which are triggered based on changes to other web services such as Gmail, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest” (and for the record, I looked this up on Google). Basically it’s an amazing automation/lifesaver/trainable personal assistant tool that you should definitely look into setting up for your own sanity and benefit.
I did some research before jumping in and found that you can make recipes for about a zillion different apps, to automate behaviors you’d otherwise spend precious time doing yourself. To get you started, there’s a huge database of recipes that are commonly used – which are great, but it’s definitely worth the time to optimize it for YOU and your personal process. I’ve got a grip on the “IF” (see below for an example of those), but still need to get up close and personal with the “DO” recipes.
Here’s one I grabbed from the database that made my life after I tested it last night: IF I post a new photo on Instagram, THEN post a tweet for me with the caption, IG link, *AND* photo image. I always used to do this step myself, because once Instagram stopped supporting Twitter Cards it lost the auto-preview and I prefer to have the photo in those posts. As someone who is constantly on their phone/tablet/computer, sharing on multiple brand accounts across various channels – being able to create a recipe to automate that process is amazeballs. Four for you, IFTTT!
Another example: I use Evernote as my digital brain and to hold most of my work content, and Todoist for my life and project management system for work in one – you can create lots of sneaky, time saving hacks by leveraging functions in each program to interact with each other through IFTTT. I can set up Todoist reminders in the form of emails, which activate a variety of different IFTTT recipes for me, depending on what it is.
NOTE: I have Evernote and Todoist Premium, so your options might be more limited if you use either program just with a free account. If you are a productivity psycho, I would highly advise upgrading on either/both, because the paid features have been 100% worth it for me.
*~*~* EPIC PRODUCTIVITY TIP *~*~*
Crank up your mouse/trackpad speed to max fast.
I did this after reading an article that mentioned it and was like, holy shit! I’ve probably wasted HOURS each week by letting my mouse take its sweet ass time to cross my big ass screen (I have a 27 inch monitor). If your work requires you to be on a computer, DO THIS. It takes about a day to get used to (you’ll feel like you’re flinging your mouse if your speed was about 50%, like mine) but it makes a serious difference.
I’ve noticed this immediately when I’m doing recurring tasks that require me moving all over the place – grabbing links, attaching files, dragging panes, etc. Definitely saves a few seconds per total action, which really add up when you think about ALL the real estate your mouse covers in a day. Also: if you have hot corners for a Mac and jack up your speed, you’ll probably feel like doing so is the devil’s work until you get your touch for it. I had all 4 active and kept pulling up Mission Control on accident and literally couldn’t even for a minute. For your own sanity, I would suggest turning them off for a few days as you adjust to the speed. Happy clicking!
Now, more life hacks via productivity apps.
Critical Life Apps.
Amazon: If you don’t have this app, what are you doing with your life?
Instacart: Local grocery delivery – like Amazon Fresh, but SO MUCH BETTER THAN THAT! One of the girls I do Coachella with told me about it and I died. You can order from multiple stores and basically be as picky as you want in your grocery list specifications, and it will be delivered right to you. Delivery is 3.99 an order. They’re only delivering in select cities right now so if you’re in one, highly advise giving them a try.
SafeTrek: I haven’t used this, but after reading about it in an article thought it would be worth mentioning. You need to have a subscription ($3/month), but this app is a “personal safety app that enables citizens to be proactive in their safety by bridging the gap between doing nothing and calling 911 in an unsafe situation.” If you are in a questionable situation, you just hold down the SafeTrek button to passively connect to police… If all turns out to be well, you enter a pin to cancel the the alert – or, if need be you just release the button and it alerts the police.
Spendee or Mint: Both are personal finance/budgeting apps. I used to use Mint but since trying Spendee like it more, Mint always aggravated me as I often had it misallocate charges into the wrong budget. You have to upload the info yourself in Spendee but that’s what I like about it.
Spring: The greatest shopping app on my phone (Amazon doesn’t count). Free shipping and a really well-curated selection to check out on the daily, plus I often discover new brands or products I haven’t seen yet elsewhere.
Tinyscan: Take a picture of whatever you want and this app converts it into a PDF, then save or send them wherever you want. This is possibly one of the most clutch work app inventions of the future.
Useful Work Apps.
Adobe Photoshop Express: I know a lot of people use Afterlight for their photo edits, and I’ve tried it a few times but prefer Photoshop Express. You can sync it with your Creative Cloud account if you have one to do on the go edits, but I also use Lightbooth and am learning Photoshop on my computer so it’s more familiar to me.
Dropbox – Google Drive – Adobe Creative Cloud: Cloud-based storage I use to work across multiple devices as well as with others for work.
Dr. Cleaner: Memory optimization and disk cleaning for your Mac. It’s like an automatic defrag program – remember when that was a thing?
Evernote: Welcome to my digital brain. Also, I pay for the Premium version because it’s necessary… I think most people now know about Evernote but if you don’t here’s the 411: it’s for “notes” which can be pretty much ANYTHING, and you can create endless folders to categorize them, then tag the shit out of them for even greater functionality to loop them across notebooks. For instance I have draft notes for a bunch of posts, which are all dropped into the respective blog category notebooks – they’re tagged “drafts” so I can see what’s in the works across all topics. You can attach photos or files to notes – you can even record voice memos. I also love being able to jot down an idea or part of a post I’m working on from my phone and have it sync immediately to all my devices.
BONUS: You have ***UNLIMITED*** storage with a Premium (paid) account, though there is an upload limit of 1GB per month. I installed Evernote Web Clipper and was maxed out on storage from saving articles as notes for reading later, so this was a no-brainer investment for my own good. You can clip selections, articles, or the full page – and links transfer intact! I obviously have a bit of an organizational crush on Evernote. Gonna move on before this gets awkward.
Expensify: Expense reporting made easy. You take a photo of a receipt and file it in whatever category it belongs in, and it does the bookkeeping for you.
Flipboard: A communal digital magazine, where you can subscribe to a zillion publications, topics, and more – and get it delivered in this sweet and neat little app. The design makes looking over a ton of content an enjoyable experience, which is a huge deal for me – I hate most of the “save later” reading apps because I’m disappointed in the UX… I love Flipboard. I’ll read right then and there, instead of saving it to one of the reader apps where the article would inevitably go to die.
Outlook: Shoutout to my internet-BFF Jenny for letting me in on the secret that the Outlook app is amazing. I use the desktop program because it’s familiar and I get spammed with email every day, so knowing how to set up bulletproof filters is worth the fact I’m using Outlook. Sigh. Anyway, the app PRE-filters your inbox for you with the “Focused” folder it defaults to, which seems so thoughtful considering the oversaturated email marketing life we live. It’s also got a quickview for any files you’ve been sent, which has been super handy for me. Bonus: You can sync up with your Dropbox! Or OneDrive, if you’re into that.
Todoist: I’ve paid for the premium version of this, and it’s my favorite digital list keeper/project management system that I’ve tried. I must credit Sarah of style•it for first turning me on to Todoist, and talking to me about the benefits of the paid version… SO worth it. It’s a glorious task-keeping app where you can set reminders and/or due dates, integrate it with IFTTT and create custom email-based triggers, and get info on how to improve your productivity… if you have Premium (and take the time to use all the features). I def recommend it if you’re going to bother using a digital life/project task management app like this in the first place! FWIW, I still write my day to day stuff by hand in a planner from Erin Condren.
This post got out of hand, you guys. Thanks for reading! I just can’t help that I have a short attention span and love feeling organized and on top of my shit in the chaos of my beautiful yet insanely busy life…
What’s the most critical app in YOUR life? Please share.
2 thoughts on “Productivity Apps & Life Hacks.”
Just downloaded Evernote after reading this and MUCH wow! Since I’m currently on the job hunt this is perfect to make sure I’m on top of everything.
Thanks so much for the list! This will help for sure!