My favorite productivity apps :

Ulysses, Apple Notes, MindNode, Fantastical, and OmniFocus


It's Friday, I have had my Nespresso Inissia-manufactured caffeine (a 6/10 boldness rating is still damn bold!), and I have recently done a mind sweep. Needless to say, I'm on fire!

During this productive week, I have come to realize the following : sometimes we need a little help from some great tools to accomplish our goals. If you're using an Apple device or two, then I'd like to share with you how I bring out the "big guns" as far as apps go, to get done what I want and need to.


My name is Eric, I am mobile.

Every morning I wake at 5am, sit down at my MacBook with the aforementioned coffee, and review what is upcoming for the day ahead so that I can get in the right frame of mind.

I travel during the day. A lot. My day job has me going from my home base to other business locations fairly consistently to meet clients, so I rely on my iPad to do most of the heavy lifting during the day, with my  Watch and iPhone in tow to capture ideas and projects. My MacBook stays at home most of the time.

I have found the above apps to be of total use in my day, and second to none in their respective fields - in fact I have each of them installed on my MacBook, iPad and iPhone. Except for Ulysses and Apple Notes, they all even have  Watch apps. I wanted to go a bit deeper to talk about how I utilize each, below.


The Apps

For writing : Ulysses.

This app has gone from the Mac, then added to the iPad (at which point I jumped on board and began using), and finally, (and famously) on to the iPhone. The Soulmen, who make Ulysses have here a writer's Swiss Army knife in a very affordable package. Any time that I am doing any long form writing, Ulysses is my go-to. You can write in Markdown, text, HTML -- the possibilities and themes that you can get for this app are many. For any writing that you need to get done on an Apple platform, I would look no further than Ulysses.

Side note : this entire post is written in Ulysses, all from the vantage point of a seat on a train headed into Philadelphia, PA.

For note-taking : Apple Notes.

In 2016 I left behind the Evernote app due to the Evernote company's restructured pricing. Secondraily, I was never really in love with the UI. I want a blank canvas that syncs across Apple platforms and Notes is/does just that. You can make checklists, bulleted lists, hand drawings, and URL links in this app. That's all that I need. I keep all relevant project information here, as well as receipts that have been digitally scanned. It's pretty powerful these days. Also the syncing issues that have plagued Apple Notes in the past seem to have been fixed. If you haven't used Notes in a while, give it another shot.

For mind mapping : MindNode .

Ideas On Canvas have a great product in MindNode. It helps immensely in fleshing out ideas, as I find this totally conducive to the way that my mind works, as far as idea structure. If you have no idea what mind mapping is, you can read more about it here. You start with a core idea at the center, give it a few branch offshoots, and as the "node" part of their name implies, getting ideas to grow from this simple structure is great for un-sticking the mind when faced with a larger project or concept. They have recently added notes and tasks to the mix within MindNode, as well as export capability to a few task management apps, one of them being OmniFocus.

For time management : Fantastical.

Fantastical takes everything that Apple Calendar does and enhances it. Oh, by the way – did I mention that they offer natural language input? That is the real selling point within this app. Every meeting that I have goes into Fantastical, and between all devices, they piggy-back off of the Apple calendar's cloud data and it populates within Fantastical immediately. You can even use Siri input via the Watch, iPad and iPhone. With macOS Sierra now offering Siri, you can even tell your Mac to "create a 'pick up Dave from practice' appointment at Philadelphia tonight at 7pm", and Siri will add it for you, which will show up in Fantastical. I initially thought to myself "why the heck would I need another calendar application"?, but trust me – if you are mobile in any way this is a timesaver. Get it.

For task management : OmniFocus.

OmniFocus has been hailed as the "king of task management apps" for quite some time, and with good reason. I vacillated between Cultured Code's wonderful Things application and OmniFocus for quite some time, but when you need real power this is your application. I sort my day by context – that is, the tool or person I need to get a particular task done. This way I can be optimally effective. For example, when I am at my work computer, I do not want to see tasks that are only available to me at home. The whole application was written around David Allen's Getting Things Done methodology, and it shows. The creators of OmniFocus, The Omni Group offer top-notch support – in fact I had to call them earlier this week and the wonderful support team at their headquarters up in Seattle picked right up and helped me with my question. Similar to Fantastical, you can tell Siri to "remind me to pick up milk", and it will add that to your OmniFocus inbox. Check out their site - they offer a Mac app trial period, too.

The fact that I can run a business with all of these apps, which cost relatively little compared to the benefits of time-saving and idea generation that they offer is a pretty fair deal.

Check them out today!

If you have questions, you can email me here.

Hopefully these apps can help you make the most of your day!