The following is a recap of the Productivity and Time Management GRIDS Graphic Design club meeting. These are the apps, systems, and techniques that we found useful in helping getting our work done. There’s also links and a video to all the things discussed and shown at the meeting.
Omnifocus is a Mac & iOS project management app designed around the Getting Things Done system. It’s one of the best apps I’ve ever used, and the only project management app I use because it’s so functional.
It’s also easily one of the best designed apps I’ve ever used—it has won 5 Apple Design Awards. This makes it very easy to use, while still having more functionality than virtually any other app out there, if you need all of what it has to offer.
It was specifically designed to be the best app for the Getting Things Done system (GTD), which is a popular project management system that was designed to help CEOs and business executives be more productive. The system began to spread after it was discovered that it was really a universal system that many working professionals could use.
Good thing is, you don’t need an app to implement the GTD system—just a piece of paper, and an understanding of the system.
Omnifocus is exclusive to Mac and iOS, and it’s a premium priced app, starting at $39 for Mac and $19 for iPhone. It may seem like a lot, but because of how functional it is, and with the dedicated team behind Omnifocus, you can count on this app growing with you throughout your career and as you take on more projects.
Here’s a recap of the 5 Steps of GTD
Whether you end up using Omnifocus or not, you can can still implement the GTD system. So, here’s a recap of the 5 steps:
- Do 20-30 minute brain dump
- Write down things as soon as they come up
- Do (2-minute rule)
- Organize the deferred by category & priority
- Do (Engage in work)
Wunderlist is a free task management app for iOS, Android, Mac, PC and other platforms, which can be a good alternative to Omnifocus. You can create folders, lists, and create tasks within the lists.
You can also use it as a collaborative list and share it with others so they can add and complete task. You can add notes, reminders and due dates, and syncs well with your devices.
Basecamp is a great collaborative project management app for Mac, PC, iOS, and Android.
It can help you and your team members organize project, tasks, and share files amongst yourselves.
3. Rescue Time
Rescue Time is a free app for Mac and PC that analyses your productivity and scores you on it. It tracks how many hours you spent using certain apps and websites. At the end of the week you will get a email recapping you productive score based on the activity that it tracked. It runs in the background and automatically categorizes the productivity level of each activity, so you don’t have to to mess around with it.
It already knows from other users what apps and websites are considered productive and non-productive apps. You can also change certain apps if it considers it to be unproductive app or uncategorized as needed, but it gets most of them correctly.
It may be painful to see how much time you’re wasting, but it’s a great way to see whether you’re staying on task, or what is taking up your time. You can also setup a simple weekly and daily goal to meet and you’ll be updated on your progress as well.
4. Pomodoro Technique + Simple Countdown
Having a simple timer or set of timers is great to keep yourself on track and limit the time spent on a certain task. More specifically, these are great to use as Pomodoro-technique timers, where you set a 25-minute intervals of focused work, separated by shorts breaks.
You can use any timer app, or even the timer on your phone. I like to use the default timer on my phone, and on the Mac, I like to use Simple Countdown to create multiple simple timers. It even has a feature to briefly flash the screen when the timer goes off.
6. The Genius Deck
Stuck at a roadblock and don’t know what to do? The Genius Deck helps you get unstuck with cards with creative suggestions.
“A single suggestion can unlock the mind,” and get you rolling in the right direction.
BackBlaze is an unlimited online backup service for your Mac or PC (plus your external drives.
For just $5 a month per device, and you get unlimited backup storage, including any and all of your external hard drives that you plug into that device, as long as you give it just enough time to sync the files (which it’s pretty fast). You can easily download individual or a group of files from the site. Or order a hard drive with all of your data on it to be delivered to you. You can keep the hard drive, or you can send it back after you transfer your files over, and get a full refund.
Hopefully you know he importance of backing up your computer. If you already backup your computer, that’s great! However, you should have at least two backups, and they should be in different locations (local and online). This is because if something happens to that backup, then you have nothing. I like to think if it this way when it comes to backups:
“Three is two. Two is one. And one is none.”
Imagine that you can’t get to or access one of your backups, and that will tell you how many backups you have. This isn’t hypothetical, this happens often. Think about floods, fires, and other disasters that occur. In those scenarios, a person’s computer and physical backup can be destroyed together at the same time. However, if you have another backup in a different location like a backup in the cloud then you’re good.
For example, I had an issue with my last laptop where the screen was cutting out and I needed to grab some files off of it, but I couldn’t. I had a physical backup hard drive, one with a spinning disk, that I used it to backed up my computer manually.
About a week or so before the screen cut out, I had dropped my hard drive on ground it. damaged the disk and I couldn’t get anything off of it.
Luckily, I had Backblaze installed and was able to download my files to my new computer. I easily would have lost over 3 years of files even though I had a backup. It’s a no-brainer when you think of it that way.
Lastly, here are a couple great productivity books to check out: