It seems like a long time since I was able to give expression to my inner geek and write a blog about technology. This Friday I was feeling more computer nerd and less the philosopher, so I hope you will overlook this break from schedule while I share with you my top five productivity-enhancing applications.
None of them are new, for which I make no apology. Like my dear old boat, they are tried and tested and found to work. And with my life still being a hectic whirl, I rely on them to help me maintain some semblance of control over my personal administration. These apps are not all free, but for the amount of time and hassle they save me, the modest cost is money well spent.
These are my personal favourites, but if you know of other amazingly cool and helpful apps, for Mac or iPhone, please post a comment and let me know. I’ve been a little out of the loop, so may have missed out on exciting new developments!
And so, without further ado, may I wholeheartedly recommend:
I use this to save and organize everything from web clippings to wine labels to flight details to Amazon orders to invitations from the Queen. A little elephant icon in my browser (Safari) allows me to save a page to Evernote with a single click. Notes get automatically synchronised to the Evernote app on my iPhone. The excellent character recognition means I can easily retrieve notes without having to spend precious minutes tagging and organizing. Great stuff.
This is how I capture To Do items on iPhone or laptop, then organize them and schedule them. Hey, sometimes I even actually do them. Synchronization from iPhone to MacBook via a WiFi network can be a little temperamental, but works more often than not. There are other great To Do list managers out there, but this one is simple to use. To paraphrase Einstein, Things is as simple as possible, but not simpler.
This saves me hours. You set up an abbreviation for your frequently used paragraphs or phrases, and when you type the abbreviation from any application on your laptop, it automatically expands to the full text with a satisfying little popping noise. So, for example, if I type “sf”, it automatically expands to “San Francisco”. Or “ttbio” expands to my preferred bio. Very useful indeed. You can even include images in the text, if you wanted to include a logo or other image in your standard sign-off. Apparently it can be installed on iPhone as well, although I haven’t explored that yet.
If you’re anything like me, you have dozens of different logins for various websites. 1Password enables you to save them all in a password-protected vault, and to automatically fill in the ID and password and submit them. It can also generate ultra-secure passwords for you. I use the “Wallet” area to store my credit card details, so I can quickly copy and paste them when ordering online. Again, a button in Safari allows me quick access to the login details when I need them.
When not traveling at 2 knots in a rowboat, I am constantly on the move, and my itinerary can become mind-bogglingly complicated. Tripit makes life so much easier. When I book a flight, bus or train journey, I simply email my confirmation email to email@example.com. Tripit automagically generates calendar events corresponding to my journeys, with all the relevant details. As the time of a flight approaches, it sends me texts and/or emails to let me know when I can check in. On the day of travel, it sends me texts to let me know if the flight is on time, and what gate it is departing from. When I land, it tells me which baggage claim to go to. If only everything in life was as simple…
Today, a journey that Tripit can’t help me with. I’m off to Cambridge, New York, for the annual retreat of the Pleiades Network, a constellation of women working for a sustainable world. Very much looking forward to a weekend of putting the world to rights.
Then I am getting the train down to DC for a couple of meetings, including catching up with my friends at the United Nations Environment Program to discuss just what a Climate Hero does for a living.
After that, a few days free format before I am due in Boulder for the Making Waves event. Colorado may not be an obvious location for an ocean symposium, but the health of the ocean affects us all, coastal community or not. I am looking forward to reconnecting with Dr Sylvia Earle and the many other ocean luminaries due to attend, as well as a long overdue reunion with Alison Gannett, one of my walking companions on 2009’s Big Ben To Brussels hike. We will be doing a joint presentation on Sunday Nov 13th.
Must run. But finally, a big GOOD LUCK!!! to all the runners in Sunday’s New York Marathon. I did the race back in 1998, my first marathon. And look what that led to…!