Increase your productivity by changing your tools and here’s where to start!


Todoist

Free; Premium €35,99 / year

Since I’m using Todoist as my main todo app, it improved my productivity and helped me to reduce my stress levels.

You might think, how can a todo app reduce your stress levels?

I know that seeing an enormous list of tasks is not really relieving any stress, but it helps to categorise your tasks. If you use Todoist, you will be able to define projects and create tasks for every project. Every task can be scheduled for a certain date or time. You can add comments to every task to specify details. Within every project, there is the concept of sections. This helps you divide tasks into certain categories. I created a sample project to show you how it works.

A sample project created in Todoist for optimal productivity.
Screenshot by Author

If you want to create an account you can do so using this link.

Notion

Free; Personal Pro €40 / year

Notion, is that for notes?

Yes! But not just for notes. According to the creators, Notion is an ‘All-in-one workspace’. And it is, but not for me.

I mainly use it to combine all my notes and thing I want to remember for future usage. I put all the interesting content that I found in Notion so that I can search the workspace like my personal Google. If you do this, and you want to write about a certain piece of content, you can just search the subject and find all resources to include in your next video or blog post.

Another thing that I use Notion for, is my personal book tracker. I put all the interesting books I actually want to read or listen to in 1 overview which helps me to keep track. It also gives me a small trigger to read more. A useful template for this is the book tracking template.

A book tracker template created in Notion.
Screenshot by Author

Oh right, did you know Notion offers templates? What more can you ask for!

Checkout Notion at https://www.notion.so.

LastPass

Free; Premium €34,80 / year

Everyone on the internet needs a password manager, and if you think you don’t, you’re wrong. If you want to have unique and secure passwords, a password manager of any kind is important. Certainly when the number of passwords goes beyond 50 or even 100.

LastPass is a free password manager which also allows you to create secure notes, add bank accounts and payment cards and addresses to autofill in forms.

You can also create folders for your passwords to combine all the passwords for work in the correct folder to avoid a large list of passwords that you might have to remove in the future if you switch your job.

There is also a very important feature for me, and that’s a scan of all my passwords. This might sound simple, but I find it important to have unique and secure passwords and LastPass notifies me about outdated or non-unique passwords that are used.

Check out LastPass here.

Alfred, the better Spotlight (MacOS)

Free; Premium €32 once (£29)

I consider Alfred to be Spotlight on steroids. Everyone who uses a Mac will know Spotlight (CMD + Space). Spotlight helps you to open apps, calculate things or navigate to folders.

Alfred does the same but better. Alfred allows you to open certain files by prefixing your search term with an empty space, instantly find your passwords by prefixing with 1p and then search the name, create automated workflows when you type in a certain term or lock your screen by typing ‘Lock’.

Alfred is completely free but offers a paid version with even more features. You can find all the free and paid features on https://www.alfredapp.com.

Rectangle

Free

As a Mac user, I find it difficult to manage all my windows when I’m working with different apps. Also, Apple does not really have a great solution for managing all these windows.

That’s why I use Rectangle for managing my windows. Rectangle offers custom shortcuts that you can customise to work with split screens or even navigate windows over multiple desktops. Since you can customise the shortcuts, it’s pretty easy to find a good key combination to move your windows around like a pro.

More info can be found at https://rectangleapp.com/.

Miro

Free for 5 boards; Full support €10–13/month

If you’re looking for a whiteboard, Miro is your best pick!
I’ve been using Miro for a month now, and it’s been a blast!

I wanted to map out my career plan for the next 5 years, and I struggled to find a way to make it clear. So I tried out Miro and it helped me a lot. I also use it to create mind maps or collaborate with team members in brainstorming sessions.

A sample of how to create a mind map in Miro
Screencast by Author

Miro offers such an amazing interaction and has full support for the iPad.

Figma

Free; Teams about €10/month for each editor

If you never heard of Figma and you want a design tool that is completely free, go check it out now!
This tool is the dream of every web developer. Designing screens and components which automatically generates the CSS to implement is just amazing.

On top of that, the community behind Figma is increasing by the day. They share thousands of templates that you can use for free.

I even created a new resume in Figma. You don’t have to be a designer to use this amazing tool, and did I mention that it is free?

An example of a resume created in Figma
Screenshot by Author

Try it out, and let me know what you think of it!

Notability on iPad

One time payment €10

Now, this is one of the apps that are not free. But the one-time cost of €10 is nothing compared to the value it offers.

Since I bought my iPad, I started using Notability to write down my thoughts when I’m developing a complex feature. It helps me to visualise the problem while giving me the same experience as drawing it on a paper. Without losing the paper for later purposes…

Notability automatically syncs with my iCloud and this way I can check the notes on all devices.
One of my friends, who is not an artist, even drew an amazing flower on it.

A drawing of a rose, created with the Notability app on iPad
Screenshot by Author

You can download Notability on the App Store.

Spark by Readdle

Free

Spark helps me to be more efficient with mails and here’s how.
All mails are automatically prioritised and so are all the notifications. Spark makes sure to only notify you when the email is not tagged as a newsletter or something less important.

The other thing that I like, is the 3rd party integrations!
Connecting Todoist to my mail helps me to quickly set-up a task to answer an email or read an interesting blog that I received via a daily newsletter.

Spark nearly has integration for nearly every Todo-app including Trello, Things, OmniFocus, TickTick and many more…

The calendar integrated into Spark has the same functionality as Calendar from Apple. It syncs to all devices instantly and gives you the option to automatically generate a conference call links using Zoom, GoToMeeting or Google Meet.

A nice extra is the amazing Widgets that are released for iOS 14 to make it even easier to follow up my emails on my iPhone.

Spark is currently only available on iOS/macOS or iPadOS, but they are working on a Windows version to be released soon.
Checkout Spark here.

PDF Expert by Readdle

€67,29/year for 3 macs

You might think that this post was sponsored by Readdle, but it’s not. Readdle actually creates experiences and not just simple software.

The first time I used PDF Expert was the day I tried to combine 2 scanned PDF’s into 1 pdf. And mark some of the words in the PDF that were important.

I tried to merge them with an online tool, and add some extra text to it, but I could not find a user-friendly solution. So I started Googling and I came across PDF Expert’s free trial. They offer a 14-day free trial and the experience was amazing. I found the solution to my problem and never struggled with any PDF’s again.

The cool thing is that PDF Expert allows you to edit the text in a PDF as well. There are many features that are very useful, so check out the website and give try out the app using the free trial.


TLDR;

These apps are in my opinion real game-changers to be more productive. The prices might change over time.
If you have any other productivity apps, feel free to share them in the comments!