Productivity Apps for Creatives

In order to keep me on task (and sane) during the workday, I use a lot of different productivity enhancing apps and techniques. And I’m not the only one. The following are a few of my most frequently relied on techniques and technologies. I hope they help streamline your day and this post isn’t just another thing tempting you to procrastinate!

Close your eyes. Imagine your office is the set of Downton Abbey. You are Lord Grantham and you have numerous things to do during the course of your leisurely busy day. Good thing you have Mr. Carson to assist you by fetching whatever your heart may fancy. Now open your eyes. The ever-helpful Mr. Carson has been replaced with a handy little app named Alfred. If you understand the concept of a butler, you understand the benefit of an app like Alfred. It takes a little time to set him up and teach him, but the investment is well worth it. With a couple short custom key commands, he will take you directly to that project file you’re currently working on, open InDesign, bring you to the development site with the impossibly complex URL.

It happens to the best of us. You are mid-thought, on the cusp of solving a particularly challenging problem and a new e-mail catches your eye. It contains a link. If there is one thing the internet has taught us, it’s that you will be rewarded for clicking the link. Ooh, exciting. Within seconds you are viewing a new Fast Company article with a catchy title and pretty infographics. Before Pocket, I would have read the entire article immediately, lest I lose track of it and be left out of every inside tweet derived from it for the rest of the day. For shame! In the midst of staying on top of this ever important article I have now lost my train of thought and have to start my brainstorm all over again. Not good for productivity. Do yourself a favor. Next time you come across an interesting article online, pocket it, and read it later when you can devote your full attention to it. In my case, I try to clear out my “pockets” over a glass of Scotch before I go to sleep at night. I highly recommend it.

Pomodoro Technique
When I am feeling particularly susceptible to distraction, I rely on Pomodoro to keep me focused. The technique is simple: work for 25 minutes, record any interruptions, break for 5 minutes. The genius in this is acknowledging distractions and jotting them down before refocusing on the task at hand. By doing this, you learn what derails you during the day and can modify your behavior and schedule to avoid those things.

Cloud, Dropbox &
It goes without saying that collaboration is the key to success in a small office like ours. If we can’t easily share files back and forth, we are basically paralyzed. And just as not all content is the same, it often isn’t shared the same way either. There’s no one-size-fits-all app for content sharing, but I use these three the most. I depend on Cloud to give colleagues and clients alike access to screenshots and flat comps. Dropbox works well for folders with multiple files. And I recommend to clients when they don’t want to set up a Dropbox account but need to send a large file or two.

Whether your company is big or small, a start-up or celebrating its twenty-fifth anniversary, I’m going to guess it’s no Downton Abbey. Without a Mr. Carson to help you manage distractions and fetch and deliver documents—or make you cocktails—you might need a few techniques and apps to help streamline your day. Now you know what I put in my cocktail. What’s in yours?

This post was originally posted on the CHIEF blog.