Episode 59 of The Teaching Space Podcast explores my current productivity app setup.
Now, I’ll be the first to admit, I LOVE a productivity app. You’ll have heard me geeking out on this subject in Episode 56 of the podcast when I interviewed Francesco D’Alessio.
I want to point out that my setup changes regularly. While I do try to make most of my podcast content pretty evergreen (in other words, it does not date too much) this episode probably will date. I will likely record an updated version in the future.
Martine’s Top Five Productivity Apps
Ok, so here are my current five favourite productivity apps, in no particular order:
I’ve probably used every task management app out there but right now, I am thrilled with Todoist. It’s powerful enough to manage complex projects with lots of different tasks due on different dates, but it’s also sufficiently lightweight to work as a idea inbox. If I get a random idea at an odd moment, it’s easy to just dump it in my Todoist inbox and file it later.
The best feature of Todoist for me is its integration with Google Calendar. It allows me to time block my day particularly well.
I have a paid subscription to Todoist, but the free version is great.
It won’t surprise you then that Google Calendar is next on my list. I just use the regular Google Calendar app. Everything goes in there - if it is not in Google Calendar, it is not happening.
My husband and I would really struggle to make our schedules match from time-to-time without Google Calendar’s help.
Google calendar is free.
Notion is my life and business hub. It’s like my own internal intranet. My favourite thing about Notion is you can make it into anything you want. It’s a blank canvas. This can be quite intimidating for people who aren’t entirely clear what they want from the tool, but for me, it’s great. As I mentioned earlier, I have used a lot of productivity apps, so I know exactly what I need from them. I have built what I need in Notion.
I use Notion for high level planning and collaborative projects. For example, I use a Kanban style setup in Notion with my VA to manage the podcast.
You might wonder why I still use Todoist, if Notion is so great. Well, that would be a good thing to wonder! Notion is still a young company and they are making updates all the time. One thing I’m hoping they will improve is how Notion handles task management. For me, there are just a few too many steps involved. Hence the need for Todoist. What I’m hoping is there will soon be an integration between Notion and Todoist - then I get everything I need in one place.
Notion is has a limited free option which is great for experimentation and getting to know the tool. I have the paid version of Notion.
Forest is a cross-platform focus app. I tend to use it on my mobile device, but I noticed there is a free Chrome extension which I will definitely give a try.
The premise of the app is you set an amount of time to focus, e.g. 30 minutes, and you start the app. Over the 30 minutes, the app plants a virtual tree. If you interrupt the planting process by picking up your phone and navigating away from the app (to check Facebook, for example) the tree dies. The idea is to create a forest with no dead trees.
Forest is great for fans of the Pomodoro Technique (listen to Episode 12 of the podcast for more on this).
I love gamifying focus time, and it gets even better when you compete against your friends and colleagues.
Forest costs $1.99.
Finally, my writing app of choice is Ulysses. I consider this a productivity tool as it’s a minimal, yet powerful app that helps me get focussed on my writing.
Ulysses is great for long-form writing, for example, I wrote my book, The Productive Teacher, in Ulysses. But I am also finding it useful for writing notes when I’m reading something on Kindle. I can use the split screen function on my iPad and have the Kindle app on one side and Ulysses on the other.
There’s a learning curve with Ulysses - for starters, you write in markdown, which takes getting used to. I recommend Sean Blanc’s Learn Ulysses course.
Ulysses is a subscription based app.
That’s all from me today, before I go, I have one small ask. Please sign up for my weekly email newsletter, The Teaching Space Extra. It includes access to my free resource library, as well as lots of great reading recommendations and information about productivity, teaching and tech. Hop over to theteachingspace.com/tts-extra to sign up.