The last two weeks have been crazy. I’m sure you know the type of weeks I’m talking about. Onn top of my normally full weeks…
- I impulsively decided to launch a month of daily podcasts (and I crazily decided to do all of the show notes, editing and production myself)
- We launched our mid year sale on dPS
- Our two day ProBlogger event is just 5 weeks away and preparations are getting to that ‘frenzy’ point
- I accepted 9 invitations to be interviewed on other people’s podcasts
- 3 out of 5 of our core team are away overseas so I had a few jobs that I’d normally have them do on my list
- Two of my sons had birthday parties – shenanigans!!!
- It’s school holidays so I’ve had to take a couple of afternoons off to do family stuff
- I had a full day photoshoot to get some new headshot scheduled
In hindsight I probably bit off a little more than I could chew – although I do find that when I’m busy I am more productive – but I’m also feeling pretty much in control this week for two other reasons.
Firstly, I really believe that my recent changes in healthy living have played a massive part in helping me stay in control, not feel overwhelmed and being super productive. Diet and exercise are paying off in many ways!
Secondly, for the first time in a while, I feel like I’ve got my act together with a task management workflow that is working for me.
Someone asked me on Periscope earlier in the week (yes I’ve started using it this last week too – find me at @ProBlogger) what tools and app I use so I thought today I’d jot talk about 3 that I’ve found helpful in this crazy period. I hope that they help others who might be looking for some help in this area and would love to hear what you’re using below in comments!
1. Task Management – Wunderlist
Wunderlist is the latest tool that I’ve added to my system.
I was previously trying to use Evernote for task management but found it came up short for me on that front. While you can set reminders in Evernote I needed to be able to see a days tasks in a list and to be able to move them around easily, set recurring reminders, create sub lists etc.
Wunderlist has enabled me to do this and more (and I’m still discovering its features).
- I love that it sits on my iPhone, Macbook and iMac (and my new Apple Watch)
- I love that I can set up folders for different types of tasks
- I love that I can set myself due dates and reminders
- I love that it gives me a ‘smart list’ for todays tasks, this weeks tasks etc
- I love that it allows me to set up recurring tasks (daily, weekly, monthly etc)
- I love that it allows me to share lists (although I’m a bit scared to let my team or wife add to them yet!)
- I love that I can email myself tasks
- I love that I can add to my lists from browsers to take note of what I want to read later
- I love that I can add notes/comments to my tasks
- I love that I can put my tasks into my calendar
I’m also excited to see some Wunderlist integrations with Zapier (which I’m yet to explore) which allow it to be connected with other apps including Evernote.
2. Calendar – Fantastical 2 from Flexbits
I’ve always been a big user of Apple’s Calendar but in recent months I’ve found myself increasingly frustrated by it. This has been because I’m finding my days are fuller and fuller of appointments, reminders and tasks and I just wasn’t satisfied with the way they were being displayed.
I wanted a daily view that arranged my tasks better both on my computers, phone and watch. I had tried a few of the alternatives including the original Fantastical app but it wasn’t until I found the updated Fantastical 2 that I found something that suited my needs.
I will say I’m still on the trial and have not committed to buy it (I’m not a fan of having to buy it for my computer AND my phone) but I’m very tempted.
In many ways it has the same features as the normal Apple Calendar but it just displays what I have on each day/week better and I find that if I’m seeing what I have on arranged better then I spend less time messing around in my calendar and most importantly I miss less appointments!
I particularly love the ‘mini window’ which is in my menu bar on my computer which is a quick glance of my day that is easy to scroll through into future days.
Adding appointments is really easy too – you can do it in a very natural language (although Apple’s calendar isn’t too bad at this either).
The iPhone app is fantastic too – so easy to use, clearly laid out and very intuitive. The ‘daily ticker’ is really cool.
It looks good on the watch too!
I’ve also set up a Wunderlist calendar so my daily tasks are imported into my Fantastical calendar!
Last of all it syncs really well with other calendar apps so if it doesn’t work out I can always go back to another option.
3. Project Management – Evernote
While I’m not using Evernote any longer for task management I’m still a big user for many other things. I only really adopted it a few months ago now after seeing one of my team members use it for a day while we were travelling but it has literally changed my life in so many ways!
I have notebooks set up for many aspects of my business.
For example the ProBlogger podcast has a notebook which has notes for:
- outline/plan for future episodes
- each episode’s outline which contains bullet points I want to hit and notes that later become show notes
- templates for sponsor mentions
- brainstorming of ideas for future episodes/guest
- marketing ideas
I am also finding that I’m writing more and more of my blog posts in Evernote. I just wish there was a way to export them directly into WordPress (I’m sure it can be done with IFTTT but I need a dummies version. Update: I’m told by Chris in comments Coschedule has this feature – I’m going to test that out!
- I love that I can share notes or notebooks with team members.
- I love that I can use it to scan documents on my iPhone and then keep them there.
- I love that I can record audio notes to myself (or my team) on my phone and store them there.
- Most of all I love that it is always with me in my phone or computers. Having such a powerful tool there all day means I’m capturing (and being able to find again) a lot more of my ideas whereas previously I had ‘notes’ everywhere (in my pocket on paper, on different apps, in different documents etc).
What Productivity Tools and Apps are you Using Right Now?
I’m using a heap more than these 3 tools but these 3 are more recently adopted ones for me that I’ve not written about previously.
Note: I should also mention that another ‘newish’ tool we’ve been using as a team lately is Slack. It’s more of a communications tool that we’ve particularly been using among our events team but it is certainly something I see us using more and more going forward in other aspects of the business too.
I’d love to hear what tools you’re using and how you’re using them in comments below?
I used to be a lawyer, a professional infamous for tracking time in 6 minute units. Those days are long gone but I still find it instructive to record my time and analyse how long I am working on things so that I can recalibrate my efforts. I Iove the simple interface of the Toggl app (Toggl.com) is available for desktop andouille devices. It has great reporting tools too.
thanks Brenda – going to check it out.
I also use Toggl because my perception of time far, far, far, removed from reality! I love the fact that if I am in a Google doc the Toggl button is right there to time what I am working on, and same for tasks in Podio which I use for project management.
Hey Darren – big fan! I’ve never left a comment or replied to your posts, but I quite enjoy reading your blog. Keep up the great work.
I’m excited to say that I’ve found a tool you might love… It does exactly what you were hoping for… create a post in WordPress from Evernote!
The tool is called “CoSchedule”, and it’s probably my new best friend above all other content tools. I’m pretty confident you’ll love it as much as I do. I’d almost go so far as to call it a game-changer for my blog planning (and I never, ever say that.)
thanks Chris – we’ve used Coschedule for some of its other features but had not seen that feature – going to investigate!
We also use CoSchedule, running a busy blog with at least 6 posts published each day. It’s got a fantastic calendar function and some great tracking and team work functions
And I couldn’t be without Evernote
hi! i recently started using Microsoft OneNote for my organizational needs, because I was desperate for help with straightening things out. I also write so I started using Scrivener as well, for those purposes.
I use Witkit which is a fully encrypted collaboration platform. It’s basically Evernote, Slack, and the Apple Calendar all in one platform. They just launched a couple months ago, and the best part is how secure it is.
I’m a huge fan of Evernote since the launch. I’ve been using it for a long time (more than 4 years now) and I must say it’s one of the best blogging tools to keep your ideas flowing.
Great share, I’ll try the remaining tools Darren.
OneNote (Microsoft’s rival to Evernote, which is now free), has a plugin that lets you publish directly to WordPress: https://blogs.office.com/2015/05/22/onenote-welcomes-three-new-partners-cloudhq-equil-and-wordpress/
I live in OneNote, but also don’t use it for task management. It’s my braindump of ‘things to do sometime’, my documentation source for writing processes for my business, my bullet point list of blog ideas and my drafting platform for them. It’s where I copy & paste website links and screenscrapes for things that might be relevant later (totally a digital scrapbook). And I’ve created a seperate OneNote for study notes, which has my thoughts, screen scrapes etc for every training course I’ve done (in classroom or online). Oh and it also has my grocery list.
I love that I can pick up my phone to add something then fire up my laptop later for a serious writing session. https://www.onenote.com/
Trello has changed my life forever. And I know I’m only scratching the surface of what it can do. I have all my tasks, then tabs broken down by day/week and I can drag them around however I need and have my day planned in just a few minutes and accessible everywhere I go
I also love Trello. I don’t see it used as often. But I love that (1) there are so many free features and (2) that it’s very visual. I’m a visual person and being able to visually organize my boards, drag and drop items, move items to other boards, and use label colors and stickers to organize is awesome. :-)
I use it for blog planning in a similar way too, and with the calendar view and ability to add pics it’s just awesome!
Oh and I forgot to mention Office Lens! This apps snaps a pic of a whiteboard, someone’s business card, that powerpoint they have showing on the big screen … straightens it, sharpens the text, lets you past into anything (esp OneNote) and can convert it into text in Word, Powerpoint or PDF. Now also available on iOS and Android. http://www.theverge.com/2015/5/27/8673563/office-lens-android
I used to use Wunderlist, then switched to ToDoist.com. I liked Wunderlist; I love, love, love ToDoist.com. In tandem with Google Calendar, it’s like having a personal assistant to set up and remind me of appointments and tasks.
I’m just starting with Evernote and like it.
In my roles as an author, editor and writing coach, I use Google Docs for drafts, collaboration with writers, feedback to coaching clients, notes–even a place to store transcription of voice-to-text ideas and drafts, though I know all of this can be done with Evernote, too–while I’m on the go. On my latest book, my co-author and I relied on it exclusively and were able to use it with our publisher, as well, when asked for certain things during the process.
I use Stitcher to listen to podcasts (including yours!), which helps with my productivity overall to collect the things I want to listen to in one place and listen in spare moments or while exercising. I’m not crazy about my RSS feed reader, so I may try the bigger names like Feedly, but again it’s all about using tools to help me streamline for productivity and efficiency.
I use several more, and I just realized this has gotten long enough, I think I’ll write a blog post about it!
How do you feel about using automated social bookmarking services for affiliate marketing and blogging?
Hey Darren –
Great stuff. I’ve become a recent fan of Trello and am now using it to organize my end of various projects across many different clients. I like it because it is easy to move a project (editorial calendar, social media audit, etc) through “draft,” “in process,” “final,” and “published.” Because I am not sharing with clients, it can be messy and not at all polished.
I started using Trello last month … it’s pretty good.
PS: Why don’t you switch to Disqus comments?
I enjoy your post and also 31DBBB. In the productivity hack, I really love wunderlist but todoist is a great platform too.
1. Because you can have different filters and priority assinged to a task.
2. Todoist Karma – a psychological tool that motivates and track your progress.
Thanks for sharing! If you like Wunderlist, you should check out Todoist. It has great features, a clean interface, & it’s available on every platform. They just updated the iOS & Android apps – they’re outstanding. It also supports sharing tasks with your team & integrates with Google calendar.
I use Asana to manage my team, editorial calendar, and everything else with all of my businesses and projects. I have grown to love it and rely on it for communication, information sharing, and scheduling tasks. It is a great tool (and free for most users).
I am using wunderlist for past 6 months and it is my favourite task management tool, glad to see it features here, planning to give fantastical a try, thank you for the tip :)
I am a list maker. That is why I enjoy using Trello. You can set up a board for each project, then make it list of each step. It is very flexible and can be configured to fit your project management style.
I was pleasantly surprised to see that I am already using wunderlist, fantastical and Evernote – these are all integrated with my various devices and are integral to my workflow. I also rely on dropbox, 1password and the Dropbox mailbox app which helps me practice inbox zero :)
Hi Darren I’ve been using Evernote for quite a while now and also Pocket (a web clipper for interesting articles you want to refer to later), but think I probably should just use Evernote and streamline things a bit more. Thanks for pushing my decision!
Another collaboration tool you really need to check out is Asana, I use it with clients instead of email and it’s brilliant. We can keep procedural and project stuff all in the one place and it’s brilliant for making meetings run super smoothly, you record straight into it and everyone knows what they’re responsible in the coming weeks.
Thanks for sharing. I will try Wunderlist. For project management I am now using Trello, it seems better than Evernote for me. You can have team members on it and its checklists track % completion as you check off items.
Hey Darren I’ve found Trello to be great for project management with team members. I use Todoist and Google calender religiously. Evernote is used for brainstorming and general notes and blog ideas etc.
CoScedule is by far my favourite tool also. Can’t imagine life without it now. Wunderlist sounds good though. I’m a big fan of to do lists but am finding now I’m running 2 blogs & increasing my blogging commitments, I may need to start creating a routine with Callander planning of my time. Right now it’s just squeezing it in between newborn & toddler duties :) hope your boys had great birthday parties.
Hi Darren Wunderlist has always been my number for my To Do List and it is so flexible.
I have been looking for a more user friendly calender to use other than the Apple calender so I will giving Fantastical a try as Google calender as not been very useful either.
Darren, using the dictation capability of Siri with Evernote makes it an even more powerful idea capture and writing tool. I’m dictating idea to myself in almost a daily basis! When time and location permit, I also dictate rough paragraphs for blog posts, which I can edit and refine later. It’s an incredibly powerful combination!
Thank you for your post. I am great fan of Wunderlist and Evernote and all the more excited to learn about Coschedule…I will have a look.
Like you, I prepare posts and website content in Evernote so being able to send to WordPress from there would be a real time saver.
An app I love is aText…a text expander which costs $4.99…and with a little training you can save a lot of time by having well used phrases automatically expand when you type in the cue!
After trying a plethora of apps and websites for task management, I have finally settled down with todoist.com. It is not perfect but it serves my purpose.
I like Trello for lists and to-do’s and such. I don’t have a team, but if I did, I bet I’d like it even more.
Apple’s calendar is my go-to for scheduling, but when it comes to scheduling blog posts, I use the WP editorial calendar plug-in – just started using it this year and I’m not sure how I blogged for nine years without it.
I use Evernote, but not to its potential by a long shot.
Thanks for this post! Lately, I felt a little frayed at the edges, and a lot of that has to do with organization (or a recent lack thereof). I’m going to go explore the innards of Evernote!
I’ve tried a number of to-do apps for iOS, but each time I return to Wunderlist. It meets my needs the best. In particular, I love the ability to set alarms – and to have the alerts appear on the screen of my iPhone AND via e-mail (sometimes I need both reminders to ensure I get certain things done!).
Thanks for the great post.
I am using Evernote to manage my projects. In details, I am using Evernote to create outlines for my 3 Indonesian blogs and my ebook projects, to clip articles from my favorite blogs (Problogger is one of them), and to create to do list (daily, weekly, and idea list). To be honest, Evernote helps me to get things done.
I also use Evernote and Wunderlist, but on Evernote i can do everything, that I can do on Wunderlist (except reccurent task).
Using Evernote, Todoist, Fantastical 2 and Ai Writer for all my work. Editing images is best done in Pixelmator. Very simple setup on my Macbook Pro really.
You should check out buffer editor if you like to do text editing or coding with ipad. http://www.buffereditor.com
I am a big fan of Fantastical too.
Two tools that you may like as well is Nozbe for task management and more. I prefer it to Asana. I’m a very visual person and Asana doesn’t work for me by lack of colors and clarity. Another one that I have just tried (again for those of you who are very visual) is Droptask. I use it as a simple project management tool. Love its simplicity and the dragging objects aspect of it.
Still trying to find my way through Evernote.
I use Trello for project planning, Google calendar, Buffer and Tailwind for social media. You make trying Evernote again tempting but I have way too much to migrate.
Darren, tools and services I use Evernote, IFTTT, Zapier, Dropbox, FancyHands google calendar and the built in apple reminders.
Like you I also use evernote to write my content but here is what I believe a more efficient way to publish content into a wordpress powered blog.
1. Record a video
2. Upload to YouTube
3. Automatically have it transcribe with Rev
4. When transcription is finished, have it automatically dropped into an Evernote notebook
5. From Evernote have it automatically posted as a draft into your blog
6. Once per week I have an assistant edit (following a checklist) and publishing one draft post.
7. After is posted have it automatically dropped into your Buffer.com account to be posted into the desire social media profiles. (this can be done multiple times – as soon as published, 1 or later, 1 week later, etc)
This also has saved me over 20 hours per week
– Angel Anderson
I actually wrote a post about this topic a couple weeks ago. I listed 10, including one or two of the ones you listed. I haven’t tried Wunderlist but have recently fallen in love with Trello. My full list of 10 is on the site linked to above on the front page. Have you tried Trello, and if so, how did it compare to Wunderlist?
Proofhub is what I use for my blogging. It’s notes and discussion section is very useful.
I’ve come to this blogpost late. I use evernote in very much the same way you do, and the fact that it’s available across devices is the key positive. Asana (mentioned above) is well worth checking out. I’ve switched to using it for my to-do list – you can structure everything by projects and share/allocate tasks across the team. It also has a dashboard for progress on each project and decent internal+email reminder/notification of task completion system.
My favorite Project Management software is by far eagle-space.com . I love the UI and it has all the features I need.
Thanks for sharing, really useful. Also discovered a site called ITTT to streamline tasks without effort.