Sunday, October 27, 2013

Tools of the trade has made a living from documenting productivity tools for your daily life. Getting things done websites each pitch their own methodology and tools. Which tools work for you is a personal affair. Here's a list of the tools I use:
  • Email, Calendar and Writing: both at home and at work I use Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Contacts, and Google Docs/Drive. While Apple Mail, iCal and Addressbook synchronize with Google services, I tend to use the browser as the main interface. I am a big fan of the Gmail simple interface and use the tabbed Inbox daily. A common theme for all the tools is the cloud aspect: data is stored in the cloud and synchronizes across operating systems and platforms between my work laptop, my personal laptop, my iPad and Android HTC One phone. 
  • Todo list: I experiment every few months with new todo managers. For about a year I use I love the simple and easy interface, and the fact it works with David Allen's GTD system, which I use. 
  • Taking notes: at work I use Microsoft Word in outline mode for taking personal notes. Unfortunately nothing meets my requirements for a great outliner. When I need to share notes with my colleagues, I use Google Docs. Similarly at home, I tend to go to Google Docs. I never got into Evernote, as it lacks some basic outliner features. Since recent I started using Google Keep for simple snippets and pictures of whiteboards. A big advantage is that synchronizes with Google Drive and has the ability to distinguish between my work and personal Google accounts. On my iPad, I use Notability to take notes. I like the ability to mix text, pictures and sketches. Sadly only iOS is supported by Notability.
  • Drafting and Sketching: I like Paper on the iPad, although I often run out of screen real estate, and my fingers are too fat. I tend to stick with rudimentary sketches of ideas or basic X-Y graphs. 
  • News and blog reading: ever since the demise of Google Reader (darn you Google!), I switched to Digg Reader. I am a big fan of RSS readers. I use Flipboard on my iPad. I catch up on interesting presentation using Slideshare
  • Social media: I live in a socially segregated world: I post tidbits on Twitter (it's open to the world), I restrict LinkedIn to work and professional sharing, I answer questions on Quora and Stackoverflow. I like Google+ - no surprise for Google fanboy. Although you would think I barely use Google+ as most of my sharing is with family in a walled off family community. I do find a lot of substantial information sharing on Google+, unlike on Facebook. I log in to Facebook to catch up with the gossip du jour among my friends. I am your stereotypical Instagram user sharing food, drinks and signs. I limit sharing of personal and family pics to my walled off Google+ community. (yes, I am married and have two kids, but you wouldn't know from Facebook or Instagram.) Buffer.App helps me posting to social media. 
  • Instant messaging: Adium (iOS)
  • Video Conferencing: I use Webex at work, as it has the benefit to allow people to dial in from a mobile phone or landline. At home, Google Hangouts is streaming our household across the pond every weekend. 
  • Data Storage: MacOS Time Machine to USB hard drives and a Synology NAS, combined with Google Docs and DropBox. I use DropBox only for a few things: using IFTTT to store all my Instagram pictures in a single folder and for whitepapers, eBooks and other reading material as I can open it on any of my devices. 
  • eBooks: I dropped iBooks for Kindle on iOS and Android. Regardless of the device I can access my book. 
  • Experimental tools: TicTrac as my personal data dashboard; Prezi for online presentations. 
  • Specialized: Microsoft project, and a whole suite of Software development tools. 
When you take a moment to list all the applications you use, you are amazed about how many there are. I wonder how things got done 25 years ago. 

Let me know if you have any interesting tools or if a category is missing.