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My top 5 favorite apps for work.
I could technically work without these, but I don't want to.
First things, first.
I am taking a break this week from posting about The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People because this post just sounded fun. Don’t worry, I have drafts queued up already and will resume next week.
I will be publishing a new newsletter each week, and (like this week) it won’t always be about the book I’m reading. Make sure you follow along by subscribing.
About those apps.
I’ve tried out a lot of productivity software, but these are the tools I don’t want to work without.
When it comes to work software, I have three criteria:
First, they have to be nice to use. I appreciate great user interfaces and user experiences. I want to use products that feel like they were made by people who care about what they are doing.
Second, they must make me work more effectively. There is no point in using something that distracts me or slows me down. This goes back to the first reason.
Third, they need to work really well with Apple products (most software does). I have been using Mac products as long as I’ve been an adult. I know all of the shortcuts. I have dialed in my set up and features. Working on a Mac is like wearing my favorite pair of jeans. It’s comfortable, and I keep them forever.
That being said, here are the apps.
My calendar is my to-do list. When a task comes up, I either do it now, schedule it, delegate it, or ignore it.
Fantastical makes it easy to create new tasks with natural language.
I just type “Call with Bob Smith tomorrow at 2pm /FMD” into the creation box, and BOOM! Fantastical puts a meeting on my work calendar for tomorrow at 2pm, sends an invite to Bob Smith and adds in a Google Meet link. It’s that simple.
Fantastical also has a Calendly alternative called Openings. It’s the best automated scheduler because I can create scheduling links for any of my calendar accounts—including my iCloud—and I can use all of my calendar accounts to determine availability.
Finally, if I don’t want to send a scheduling link to someone, I can send them options instead. I simply create a new event with a few proposal times. Fantastical will hold all of the times open, and then close them when the recipient picks the one that works the best for them.
Our team is entirely remote, and our culture is built around accountability and time autonomy. Meetings get in the way. Loom is better.
I can record my screen and instantly share it with a link. (Here’s an example.)
Here’s how I use Loom.
Feedback - Instead of describing something, I can actually show what I am talking about. I just start a recording and give my feedback. We opt for the AI add-on with Loom that creates a transcript. So I can copy and paste from my transcript to write an email or update our project management app. I sen the link to the Loom with the text for context.
Delegation - I no longer have to tell someone who I do something. I can record how I do it. Then I ask my team member to record themselves performing the task to close the communication loop and make sure I explained what I want clearly. This great for complex tasks.
Training and culture building - If I see something I want to share with my team, I just start a Loom. I can explain what I am thinking along with the video. We have a training library in our Loom account where these things can live forever.
This is on the list because it’s what my development team likes. The only thing we use in Basecamp is the card-based project management tool.
New ideas and bugs go into the Triage section. Then we move it to Planning > In Progress > Ready for Review > Ready for Production > Done.
We use one card per item and break bigger projects into into several cards. All of the communication, feedback, and Looms stay with the card.
I’ll admit, I have an on-again, off-again relationship with this app. Not-so-secretly, I want to move away from Basecamp to Notion now that has really good card-based project management. But, that’s not how I use it currently.
Notion has databases which make if a very powerful digital brain. Here’s what I mean.
The apps you use save information you enter into databases. Each database is for a different type of item. At my software company, items like locations, users, work orders, quotes, invoices, contractors, etc., all have their own database. We create relationships between the databases to use their information on one place.
Notion’s databases work the same way. The default view looks like a spreadsheet, but you can show the items in card, calendar, and other views.
Notion let’s be build mini applications inside of a productivity app without having to write any code.
I use it mostly as a note taking app, and I’m working on building a company wiki using the Loom videos I’ve been recording.
Notion can be as simple or sophisticated as we need it to be.
Apple Mail works, and it keeps getting better with every MacOS update. Aside from knowing the keyboard shortcuts, I especially love the follow up and snooze features. I either…
Respond and archive
Schedule a time to respond and then link to the email from the calendar event.
Snooze an email until later.
Delete the email.
If I send an email that asks a question, Mail flags it for follow up and puts in back in my inbox a few days later. Brilliant!
I try to process all email down to an empty inbox twice a day, and it’s my main means of communication.
There you have it!
I am a YouTube junkie. Lately, I’ve curated my viewing towards business and productivity education. Here’s some of my favorites stuff I’ve watched this past week.
DIRT: Alaska. My favorite YouTube series is made by Huckberry, a clothing retailer, but the series is not about clothes. The host travels around a state grabbing local ingredients for a feast, before making it at the end. It’s a who about people, food, and adventure—some of my favorite things in life. Check out DIRT Episode 6 — Alaska.
Sam Corcos shows how Levels uses Notion. My current productivity guru has a decently-sized library of productivity and process best practices. Check out Increase Team PRODUCTIVITY with Notion.
Open AI's custom GPTs. Soon, you will be able to build custom chat apps in ChatGPT without any code. This video is barely scratching the surface of this tool. Imagine a library of experts living in your you ChatGPT app. That’s what we will see with this, and anyone with data can participate. Watch Introducing GPTs in ChatGPT.
That’s it for this week. Reply back or leave a comment to let me know what you think.
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