People think I got my shit together.

Really, I just got a solid digital productivity system to back me up and keep it all together for me.

Sure, one could argue it’s mildly dysfunctional to depend so much on tech. But in my defense:

  1. it works
  2. as a creative millennial juggling 1 full-time bachelor course, 2 project teams, 3 freelance jobs, 4 passion projects, 1 volunteering job, 2 learning tracks, blogging, self-care, travel and an active social life, what do you expect?
  3. this is the 21st century – why not act like it?

I’m quite happy to take advantage of the digital age and (ab)use software, apps and services that enable me to get my shit done without losing my head.

With a love for tech and personal leadership, it’s grown out to be a bit of a hobby to find, test and share these tools with people.

If you’re looking to work smarter (not harder), get organized, clear your mind and focus, get more done, and successfully juggle multiple projects alongside each other: this one is for you.

12 Apps that Transform the Way I Organize & Get Shit Done

Here’s a rundown of a dozen apps that have been game changers for my personal productivity.

Free of discrimination, all apps in this list are free and compatible with both iOS and Android, Mac and Windows, and a lot of them also on the browser. For info, downloads, and to start playing with them: click the names.

Evernote – To take notes (lots, and lots of ’em) 📓

Evernote is a classic on these types of lists, and for good reason. Essentially a note-taking app, Evernote lets you take notes and file them into different notebooks (and notebooks into stacks). In my life, Evernote is my digital brain. Holding years of my notes, data, writings and ideas and making them accessible (and easily searchable) to me on any device at any time, I can’t imagine my workflow without it.

Station – To stop the tab tango 🖱

Station is like your dock with superpowers, bringing together all your web apps in one interface. It’s one of those things you never knew you needed but after you’ve used it for 2 weeks, you wonder how you ever managed without it. For Mac and Windows.

Feedly – To read my curated news feed 📰

Feedly is my curated content feed: bringing all my favorite blogs and publications into one reading experience. This is one of the easiest ways to stay up-to-date on trends & developments in your industry and passion areas. Some of my favorite blogs are Fast Company, Brainpickings, Wired, The Verge .. but more on that later.

Pocket – To bookmark my favorites 🔖

The most valuable articles, guides, toolkits and online resources that I want to keep around, I keep them in my Pocket. It’s like bookmarking on superfoods, including tagging functionality and search.

Grammarly – To correct my spelling ✍

Because spelling and grammar mistakes are never a good look, and its excusability is expiring. I use Grammarly as a browser extension so it’s active anywhere I type.

Fiverr – To outsource (cheaply) 💁

Something on your WordPress crashed and can’t be bothered to fix it? Need a video edit and can’t find the time? Want a simple illustration for your birthday invite? Fiverr is the place to outsource small tasks to experts for a tiny fee. The platform is built on the prompt of ‘what service can you offer for five dollars?’, so the fee will often be exactly that: $5. Call it lazy, call it smart: there’s no doubt about it saving you a lot of headaches.

Revue / Mailchimp – Making newsletters easy 💌

These two help you manage email subscriptions and newsletters. Mailchimp is the OG mail client: with a drag-and-drop interface, advanced member features and integration with 100+’s of your other apps. Revue is the new kid on the block, a Dutch startup, making it even easier to congregate content and bring it all together in your own digest. Revue is what I use for my monthly newsletter (subscribe if you haven’t!) 😃

Canva – Create visual materials with 0 design skills 🎨

With Canva, anyone can design professional and pleasing graphics. They offer templates for business cards, resumes, infographics, posters, Instagram posts, invitations, and more. It’s dead easy, free and actually looks legit.

Zapier / IFTTT – To automate silly tasks 🤖

Imagine the amount of time you waste dragging around files, copying them from one app to another, transferring data. No more! With Zapier or If This Then That you can set up automated workflows: a trick once reserved for people who knew how to speak in code, but now available to all. With hundreds of apps to integrate with one another, this is one of the easiest ways to save you time instantly. I have workflows set up to push Mailchimp subscribers to Revue, to auto-save all Spotify Discover Weekly songs into a playlist, to upload notes in a particular Evernote notebook to WordPress drafts, and more. Both apps do the same thing and I haven’t been able to find much of a differentiator, so I included both. What can you automate?

Unroll.me – To ditch all those email subscriptions 🗑

Ever look at your inbox clutter and wonder when the hell you signed up for all these newsletters? But can’t find the patience to scroll down each mail and click that unsubscribe button neither? You’re right. Unroll.me got you on this one, helping you mass-ditch your email subscriptions. I remember the first time I used it, it unsubscribed from over 200 subscriptions at once (ooppss). How many are you dropping?

Headspace / Insight Timer – To start & continue a meditation practice 📿

“Because brilliant things happen in calm minds”. Headspace is the perfect digital kickstart for anyone that wants to give meditation a try. They share 10 free guided sessions of 10 minutes and I love the animations at the start of each. Andy (Headspace’s founder) is without a doubt one of my heroes.

If you’re looking for a free or more varied meditation experience, or simply a timer, I recommend Insight Timer. They have a wide range of guided meditations, filterable based on time and theme, and a built-in habit tracker and stats (yaass graphs!) to motivate your practice.

F.lux – To sleep 💤

You’ve probably heard about not using your devices at night, but maybe not the why and how else? The blue light in our screens keeps our bodies from producing melatonin; the hormone that makes us sleepy, because it registers it as daylight. As an insomniac, I should know better but I admit I occasionally (read: frequently) still use my devices late at night. F.lux is an app that subdues the blue light after sunset so that you can safely use your screens while without sacrificing your precious sleep.

Disclaimer: people will ask you why your screen looks orange? Disclaimer 2: if you do any design work, don’t forget to turn f.lux off! You’d be surprised how quickly you get used to the warm glow, and I don’t want you to waste your time creating faulty color schemes.

Google office – To replace the Office Suite 📊

Google Docs (text), Slides (presentations) and Sheets (spreadsheet) is my office suite of choice. It allows you to create in the same way you’re used to, while adding the useful features of collaborating in real-time and accessing your files from any device. Working on teams with both Apple and Windows, this brings final death to switching between Keynote / Powerpoint, Pages / Word.

The Staples

The 2 missing cornerstones of managing my shit that are not included in this list are:

A to-do app – To keep your tasks together & your mind clear 🤸

A to-do app is a staple. Sadly, I don’t have a favorite. I rotate between Todoist (currently), Any Do, Swipes and a few others. I also use Wunderlist, Trello and Google Keep for other purposes, and either of them lends themselves perfectly well for to-dos. In my experience, they all fail in one department or another (categories, prioritization, seamless syncing, UI) so I’m still looking for ‘the one’. If you think you got it, please tell me!

A calendar app – To make sure you show up 📅

Because duhu? I use Google calendar, but Apple, pen & paper; anything can work. Just keep one and mark your appointments there so you don’t have to keep track of them in your head.

Notable Mentions

  • Trello – To use an interface like postits. Multifunctional and highly visual and intuitive, I recommend checking out Trello.
  • Castbox – To listen to my favorite podcasts. I was a very late adopter of the podcast format but now I couldn’t imagine my commute and travels without it.
  • Blinkist – To pretend you read the book and say something about it.
  • Adobe Draw – To make digital illustrations or digitalize my sketchnotes on the phone.
  • Duolingo – To learn new languages while you’re waiting for the bus. Because nosotros comemos una manzana.
  • Meet Up – To meet like-minded when you’re in a new city or make new friends around a topic of interest wherever you are.
  • Slack – To streamline team communications. In a Slack workspace, each channel (I like to think of them as chatrooms) addresses a certain topic, department or client so you only read what is relevant. Also offers 100+’s of integrations with other apps. For teams that need more than a messy group chat, Slack is the way.
  • Pushbullet – To stop chatting to yourself. Pushbullet allows you to push content, links, text or photos from one device to another.
  • Google Photos – To keep your pictures together. I’m an avid user of Photos 1) to make sure I never lose any of my pictures, 2) to keep my device from getting cluttered, and 3) because the object-recognition tool (although extremely creepy) is extremely useful. I type yellow balloon, bikini, fish, or spicy food, and Google serves me the exact picture I was looking for (most the time, anyway).
  • Be Focused – To time my pomodoros.
  • Dictionary – Because, words.

I hope

some of these will help you create the space to focus on what you’re creating and what matters.

I’d love to hear if you end up using any of these and if they help you!

I’m curious to know which apps are your digital cornerstones? How much would you say you rely on them (please tell me I’m not the only one haha)? And which to-do app would you recommend me to try out?