App Recommendations: Productivity

Ironically, I waste a lot of time searching for the perfect productivity apps. Today, however, I am happy to report the fruits of my labor. What’s more, they’re FREE!

Any.DO made my post-it notes obsolete. This is, without contest, the best app for managing your to-do’s. With a clean, minimalistic layout, Any.DO does everything from setting deadlines for your tasks to categorizing them into a limitless number of folders. Any.DO also syncs to all your devices so you’re never at a lost for what’s to do next. Perhaps the best feature of all is the ability to sync to your Google calendar. With just one glimpse, I get to see the events I have scheduled as well as all the tasks I have ahead. This gives me a really good idea of whether I’d have enough time on any given day to finish my tasks. If I don’t, I can re-prioritize and move tasks to later days with a swipe of my finger.

AnyList echoes the minimalistic layout of Any.DO and simplifies the task of organizing grocery lists, project breakdowns, etc. Simply type in an item and AnyList will do the rest. It automatically categorizes, i.e. asparagus is listed under “Produce”. AnyList allows you to share your lists, any list, with anyone on your Contacts. Since our new home is not situated near oriental grocery stores, Thanh and I share a grocery list. He adds items, they automatically sync to my phone, I cross off items as I get them from State College, and he gets notified that modifications were made to our shared list. Everything is in real time! As alluded to above, AnyList is not just for your grocery needs. Thanh and I also share a list of blog topics for Consult the Couple. :) I plan on creating several project-based lists and share them with my research assistants to facilitate my supervisory role from home.

We Say
These apps are absolutely necessary for those who like to keep organized in a chaotic and hectic world. They’re free and take very little space on your device. Really, you have no excuse but to download them!

App Recommendations: Paperless

Everyone is all about “going green” these days. Students are probably the biggest “paper wasters” due to all the readings and notes they have to do. While it’s definitely much more comfortable to read and far easier to write neatly and quickly on paper, the problem with all of these papers is that they take a whole lot of space. Ultimately, most end up (hopefully) in the recycle bins, but sometimes they are trashed. The other thing about paper is that, like anything physical, it can become destroyed. Ink may fade and pages may decompose. It is very difficult to keep paper pristine.

Tablets make reading electronic files much more convenient. We can now lie or sit comfortably wherever we like and “hold” the documents to read from like we would paper. Files are displayed gorgeously with crisp clarity.

With the help of some extraordinary apps on the iPad, I have been “paperless” for the last 3 years. I no longer have to print or copy unnecessarily. As long as I have a PDF file, I’m good to go! I can highlight and mark readings that I do. Furthermore, I’m not bound by keyboards to transcribe. I can whip out a stylus and scribble down notes with ease anywhere I please.

Penultimate has taken the place of my notebooks. I used to carry a small spiral-bound pad with me to jot notes from the day on, but this is no longer necessary. This app looks and feels like a real notebook. It has many page designs to fit your writing needs. You can write in different colors and “pen tips” (thicker vs. thinner). Compared to other apps, I find Penultimate has more “fluidity” and sensitivity, allowing me to write like I would on paper. I now have hundreds of pages of handwritten notes that can easily be shared and are backed up to a “cloud”. Penultimate also allows me to maintain multiple notebooks, which makes organizing and finding past notes a piece of cake. I will never buy another notebook in my life!

Notability is the most useful and productive app I own. I constantly use it for work and personal tasks. It is a must-have for any iPad user who needs to write/keep notes. This app has every possible way to take notes – handwriting, typing, and even voice recording. The best feature is the highlighting and handwritten marking functionality for PDFs. I probably spared the lives of countless trees with this app. Best of all, I can now have every article I’ve ever read with me at all times. Notability also makes signing of documents a cinch; no longer do I need to print, sign, and scan/fax. There are multiple pen colors and sizes. Notability also allows you to search keywords within any given PDF!

These apps are wonderful, but without a good stylus, you would not be able to use them to their maximum capacity. I have tried a good amount of brands and found that nothing beats Wacom’s Bamboo Stylus. It is very comfortable to write with and produces relatively life-like writing.

We Say
Gone are the days of messy stacks of papers which may be unsightly and overwhelming to navigate, organize, and/or share. Information is now readily available, so shouldn’t your notes be as well?