I find I do my best work when I’m doing something mindless, like housework. Or driving.
And I was a little late adopting cell phone technology. Okay so I was a LOT late. Is there a late-adopting-cell-phones group?
I remember my first one.
It was almost as big as a briefcase.
I didn’t use it much, and the one time I really needed it – no cell service. I’d gotten it in case I broke down somewhere and, yep, I broke down in the middle of nowhere.
After that I got different service and smaller phones, but basically they were just phones.
Then I got an iPhone! It has all sorts of productivity helpers.
My favorite little helper? Notes.
Raise your hand if you’ve heard of these ancient technologies – steno pads and dictation. It used to be a boss would call in the secretary and while he talked, she wrote in shorthand. Later she would type it up. If there were any mistakes or additions she would have to type it all again.
Now I open the Notes app, click on the little microphone and start talking. No it’s not perfect. Sometimes I talk too fast or maybe I mumble. The little ‘thinking’ symbols do a shimmy when it can’t figure out what I said.
Most of the time it works really well. I’ll be driving along – thinking bad thoughts about the idiot who cut in front of me – and a concept I’ve been working on will pop in my head.
Before I would have to try and remember it – not easy when those bad thoughts are still swirling around in there. Sometimes there was a piece of paper handy. But trying to write and drive in traffic are not things that go together well.
Now I talk to my phone and no one thinks it’s weird.
If I need to I can email my notes to myself or copy and paste into another app, like Facebook. Easy peasy.
Another favorite app? Reminders.
I used to use lots of sticky notes, but it was bad for the environment and I’d often lose them.
Now I click on Reminders, type a little note, choose Remind Me and set a date and time. There’s room for more notes and it can be set to remind you every day or every week or whenever.
I even set it to remind me to feed my dog lunch. Now I don’t usually forget to feed my dog, but she had puppies and needed an extra meal to keep up with their demands. I often work through lunch, so it was a good reminder to take a break too.
Another great app is Evernote.
You need to download it to your smart phone and/or computer, but it’s worth the time. It can copy webpages and PDFs for you to read later and even include your own notes. And it has a little button you can add to your browser to make it easy to save that interesting content.
It can be a project management system.
It integrates with just about everything. Using IFTTT (If This Then That) means that you can automatically send content from your other services right to Evernote.
It can also sort your content into more manageable ‘notebooks.’ And when you use it as a repository for all of your notes and webpages and reference material, you can search in one place to find the information you need. Tagging each note and adding links can make everything much easier to find. And you don’t need to keep multiple copies when you have something that might fit into multiple notebooks. Just tag them. Check out Brett Kelly’s post to learn more about tagging
And you can access it from just about anything – your laptop, your tablet, your smartphone. For example I love to try new recipes and often come across some tasty sounding ones on Facebook. I click to open the webpage with the recipe, click the Evernote icon to save the page and, later when I’m at the grocery store, I can access Evernote with my phone to see what ingredients I need to buy.
What apps do you use to help with productivity?