Wanting to get the most out of our working day can be a struggle, with overflowing to-do lists, dozens of open browser tabs and a desktop resembling a tapestry. We’re constantly in need of a quicker fix to manage our lists, record our thoughts and view our data. Time to enlist the help of some carefully considered user experience tools.
As part of Shillington Post 04, the Process Issue, we caught up with Shillington’s digital mastermind, John Fry to round up which apps are geared towards making our day-to-day processes more productive and manageable.
1. Wunderlist: My To-Do List
A list on a bit of paper is okay, but paper gets lost. I think it’s key to get it out of your head and onto something so you can move onto doing what you need to do. Wunderlist is a cross platform user experience tool that lets you set up lists for different things like work, home or even down to particular projects. Reminders are a godsend and keep things on track. And better yet, the basic level is free!
2. Trello: My Project Planner
I use Trello for keeping track of website projects, but you can basically use it for anything you’re planning, be it work related or even just your three year old’s birthday party. Based on the concept of cards, this user experience tool lets you set up a board with different lists of main tasks, then populate them with subtasks. They can be colour coded, assigned to different people, divided into checklists and so on. The best part is having a ‘Done’ list and dragging completed tasks into that. A simple overall setup might be having ‘Doing’, ‘To Do’ and ‘Done’ categories.
3. Tyme2: My Time Tracker
Tyme2 is more of a freelance tool, but I use it to track all my projects, keeping things on schedule and within budget. It allows you to track projects and specific tasks within those projects. Tyme2 is a great tool to help you understand how you work and how to improve workflow as well as quoting on future jobs. What’s nice is that Tyme2 notices when your computer hasn’t been active for a while and stops tasks when you forget.
4. Feedly: My News Feed
The interwebs is full of useful articles, but who has time to visit all those blogs and news sites? Feedly lets you subscribe to as many RSS feeds from your favourite sites as you like, then packages all that news into a single interface. At the moment I’m scanning about 80 different sites, letting me filter the content I’m really interested in reading and ignore the rest.
5. Instapaper: My Interwebs Library
Having skimmed all that content with Feedly, often I don’t have time to read it on the spot. So, with Instapaper I can save them to read later, free of the distraction of going to the site itself. It also works across different devices so I can download content and read it offline later on my phone or iPad. Mine is full of developer-related content and forms the basis of a library I refer back to all the time, all nicely categorised under different titles.
6. iA Writer: My Notebook
Writing anything is a challenge with so many distractions taking away your focused attention. iA Writer aims to solve this by simplifying the interface for a writing app. Why do I need a thousand buttons and icons presented by Word, when all I really need to do is write?
7. 1Password: My Passwords
If you’re still writing passwords on a piece of paper somewhere or even worse, using the same password for everything, all I can say is hand over all of your money and personal details to the next person you meet on the street. 1Password lets you remember a single phrase to access all your passwords. This user experience tool suggests super complex passwords and can autofill passwords for sites you visit. It’s a paid app, but well worth it in the long run.
8. Clocks App for Mac: My Universal Time Keeper
Ever had to plan a Skype with a colleague overseas or schedule a chat with a faraway relative? It’s just plain hard working all those time zones out, especially if you have to schedule it for the future. Clocks lets you add different countries to the app so you can compare real times, or drag the slider back and forth to work out future times.
9. Clear: My List Maker
If you’re anything like me, you’ll be all too familiar with the need to make a list for anything and everything. It clears our heads, helps keep us right and provides a structure for productivity. But, what happens when your list becomes a cluttered mess? You download Clear. A no-mess system of compiling all the things you need to remember, then swiping them away once you’re done. You can add your own themes, colours and even sync the lists on multiple platforms so it’s there whenever you need it.
10. Slack: My Conversation Feed
Ever dreamed of Whatsapp for professional context? Well Slack is all you’ve ever wanted and more. An effortless way of keeping in the loop with your team so you don’t miss out on any stages of a project. With the ability to create multiple slack channels and the flexibility of using it on multiple platforms it re-defines social organisation.
If you haven’t yet got a copy of Shillington Post 04—The Process Issue, fear not! You can catch up with all the content over on Issuu, as well as leafing through previous issues.
If you enjoy hearing from our teachers you can catch up with them at one of our Info Sessions, where you can also learn more about our graphic design course. Find out more -> www.shillingtoneducation.com
Header Illustrations by Shillington’s Ali Neilly.