Posts Tagged

Productivity

Let’s be honest, Apple’s calculator app nearly as appealing as the other stock apps on the Mac; heck, it even falls short against its iOS counterpart. With just the basic functions available, it’s one of the least used (not to mention forgettable) apps on my computer. And of all things, it has a Dashboard sidekick that’s even more forgettable.

On the flip side, this can mean more breathing room for more flexible and powerful mathematical tools for the Mac. In fact, a quick search on the Mac App Store shows a wide range of apps to choose from, ranging from scientific to purpose-specific calculators.

One of these that I’m interested in is Numi by Dmitry Nikolaev & Co, a menubar app that moves away from the typical way we use calculators by incorporating text into computation. The idea is that calculations can be made more comprehensive by adding text into the process, and so it is easier to see and understand how we’d arrive at the result.

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For freelancers, time tracking can be the bane of our existence. We know we need to keep track of all the time we spend on client work but, more often than not, we sometimes forget to start that timer or even can’t remember how much time we spent on that mockup. It’s an inconvenience we all wish we could avoid but when you’re in charge of your own time, keeping track of it should be a priority.

To make time tracking simpler, AppBieger have released an app called RealTime which — instead of just a simple timer — automatically tracks the time you spend within apps.

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It’s been three years since making the big switch to the Mac, and within those thirty-six months I’ve tried numerous apps that have significantly changed the way I work. I’ve gotten my hands dirty with a variety of productivity tools, finance software, utilities, and photo/image editing apps of various shapes, colors, and file sizes that it’s taken me a while to actually find the apps that I can settle down with.

I’ve pretty much filled up fifteen pages of purchase history, but I’ve managed to find a couple of apps that have become integral to my workflow as a writer and an avid user of the web. These apps have won my loyalty, and I’m glad to be able to shine the spotlight on them in this week’s The Apps We Use feature.
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Recently I’ve gotten interested in time management techniques and apps, and I’ve gotten to review a few Pomodoro Technique apps and even had an interview with the developer of one of them. If you’re easily distracted and have a tendency to procrastinate, there’s nothing better than a little pull on the ears to keep you on track and away from distractions, and those tools are great for that.

But what about when those tools become more distracting and harder to use than they are helpful? Having all those great features and animations can actually slow you down, as I have found. So the question is, are these tools actually necessary, and to what extent? Let’s explore a few of the ins and outs of the problem.
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Note taking application are probably second only to task management apps in the App Store now. I’ve used many of them, but keep coming back to the same few programs that best meet my needs. I would probably would count Evernote as my favorite cross platform version, but in truth my favorite note taking application isn’t on the Mac. It’s OneNote for Widnows. While most Office programs come in a Mac version, OneNote is a notable, and frustrating, exception.

While OneNote compatible programs aren’t unknown, there are few and most have fallen far short of replacing OneNote. Microsoft’s SkyDrive includes a web based version that functions for many basic editing tasks, but loses some of the powerful features that make OneNote so useful. Many Mac users find themselves resorting to keeping OneNote installed on a virtual machine to keep access to the program.

Outline is a new program in the Mac App Store that promises to bring OneNote to the Mac. Has OneNote finally arrived for the Mac? Let’s find out. (more…)

Productivity plays an important role in our daily lives and, therefore anything that can enhance it is of interest and deserves closer inspection. For that very reason, we recently reviewed two productivity apps based on The Pomodoro Technique.

Today I decided to take a look at Zonebox, an app aimed at timeboxing tasks. Timeboxing is another popular time management technique, which essentially consists of assigning time limits for the duration of a task. Although initially used by teams in software development, it’s gaining more and more traction among individuals as a means of boosting their productivity. Read on to see how Zonebox can help.

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Sometimes it feels like a day doesn’t go by without the release of another app in the over-saturated to-do list category. I’ve used Things to organize my life since it was first introduced, and I’ve stuck with it through the years, even despite the developers’ embarrassingly long delay for proper cloud syncing. My loyalty to Things has always been shaky, which has kept me experimenting with it’s many competitors.

I recently tried out Cheddar to see if it could replace Things as my go-to organization tool on my Mac. Here’s how that worked out.

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In this day and age, we find ourselves surrounded by constant distractions, making focusing on a single task at any given time an increasingly difficult endeavour. Often times, we have to resort to mental hacks and gimmicks to focus on the task at hand… I know I do.

One method I’ve found helps me focus is The Pomodoro Technique. Pomodoro apps are dime a dozen in the App Store, some more complex and feature rich, others such as Tadam, more minimal. I recently took it for a spin. Read on to find out how it faired.

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In 2012, the Mac community lost one of the Mac OS X mail clients that many considered to be the best on the market: Sparrow. Development has stopped (which doesn’t mean you can’t still use this app, though, at least for now) since the team has been acquired by Google.

Some claim that the whole email concept needs a refresh and solutions are offered, and the previously reviewed Mail Pilot and its upcoming Mac client, or the upcoming .Mail app are proof of that. Others still prefer to use web-based apps like the popular Gmail.

I, for one, still think that Mail.app, since its OS X Lion revision, is the best. It’s built-in, offered at no cost, and is completely integrated with OS X. I’ve customized it to fit my needs and developed my own workflow to deal with emails.

In my humble opinion, you should be able to jump into your emails, process them quickly, and then get back to work. A mail client, for me, is just a way to send and receive emails, not a big messy, clunky, filing cabinet with hundreds of manually created and sorted folders. Read on to find out why, in that case, Mail.app is the best for me, even when processing hundreds of incoming messages per day.

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Cute eyes, button nose, a sweet smile—I must admit that I was drawn to BlankDesk’s Noted and its adorable app icon. Officially launched just a couple of months back, it’s a “simple, yet powerful note taking app” that may just bring something interesting and useful to the round table of notes apps.

In spite of the fact that there are many (maybe even too many) notes apps for the Mac, I wondered if Noted could have something that other notes applications lacked. I’m sure you’re asking the same questions as you’re reading this: What new features does Noted bring to the table? Is it capable of doing all and more than what my existing notes app can do? And why does Noted look like the foster child of Evernote and Notational Velocity?

Let’s find out.

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