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My Top Productivity Apps and Tools in 2020

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I consider myself as a productivity junkie, as I’m always on the lookout for a better, more efficient way of accomplishing my tasks and staying on the track of projects, maybe because programming taught me to be organized and efficient in order to avoid chaos. But as am I working on multiple projects simultaneously, the organization is the key to have a stress-free day and check out all the tasks.

So I like periodically to invest some time in trying new tools and methods. During the years, I have flipped through so many apps, some stayed with me until this day, many I have discarded. So I never had the same routine of working, every year it changed.

Recently I have experimented a lot with CLI apps since I spend most of my time in Tmux/Vim, and TaskWarrior struck me the most. I have not added it to the list as I’m still in the process of learning its workflow and commands, but it’s the kind of simplicity I’m looking for in an app. It’s one of the kinds of apps that follow the Unix philosophy:

Write programs that do one thing and do it well.

- Peter H. Salus, A Quarter-Century of Unix

As of today in 2020, I decided to share the list of tools and apps I use the most for a personal and professional organization:

Moleskine notebook

Personally, I think sometimes only a simple notebook is all that you need. I got my first Moleskine Notebook back in 2013 and changed me completely, I never looked back and always have one with me. What is great about physical notebooks is they influence my thinking differently than an app, not sure how to explain it but having the pen and a paper trigger my creative thinking in a different way. I use it mostly for brainstorming, writing down ideas and logging my workouts.

I had different brands of notebooks but what I like most about Moleskine are the quality of the paper and different sizes and styles, my favorite has always been the Pocket version, small and yet spacious to be portable everywhere with me.

If you are interested in getting a notebook, see an example of how Leonardo da Vinci used his notebooks.

Post-it

I can’t live without them, I have them on my fridge, on my desk, on my monitor, on my doors.. everywhere! Post-it makes it really easy to remind me of things I have to do, just need to attach them where visible. For the important tasks, I find them much more effective than an app notification.

Another powerful type of Post-it are colorful Post-it’s, I use them a lot in software development by assigning a different color to a different category of tasks, for example: bug, feature, to-do, etc.

Bear App

The Bear App is one of my absolute favorite apps for macOS and iOS. It’s a note-taking app beautifully designed and with some key features I use the most:

  • Tags
  • Encryption
  • Touch ID support
  • Focus mode
  • And much more…

It’s very fast which is another key point for me!

I mostly use the Bear app to take notes on the go, some to-do’s, and keep information about the projects I am working on. I highly recommended it if you are on the Apple ecosystem.

Mind node

Very often before starting a project, it’s good to have a clear picture of the idea. That can make a big difference in the project and tasks organization. But converting a mental picture in a complex system of dots is not easy, that’s where Mind node makes its way through. Like the Bear app, Mind Node is my another essential app for macOS and iOS. It’s simple, beautiful, and fast.

I use it always to plan personal and professional projects, it gives me a clear picture of what I’m working on and that helps a lot in thinking.

Reminders by Apple

I switched through many to-do apps, the lastest I have used were Any.do and Wunderlist which later was acquired by Microsoft and announced the end to start building Microsoft To Do, which I also tried.

But out of them all, also those not mentioned, Any.do does the best job, but what turned me off was that recurring tasks are a premium feature, which requires a monthly subscription to service. And the fact that the MacOS app is a hungry Electon web app. Probably later one more than the first point.

So after Apple updated the Reminders app for both macOS and iOS, I was immediately sold, because it offers plenty of features, even the recurring tasks built as native apps on both platforms at no additional costs.

Concluding

As you can see I don’t like all-in-one apps, bloated software, or complex tools. I like to keep the workflow as simple as possible.

Do you use any of these tools or apps? Or have any suggestions? Let me know in the comment.

Author

Bojan Vidanovic is a computer programmer, specialized in front-end web development. Love making internet products, blogging, learning, reading, calisthenics and fitness enthusiast.

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