It’s the time of year for “Top 10 Lists” and as a productivity geek I recognize that the Mac, the iPad, and the iPhone really have the best software to enable busy educators to simply get things done. I’ll begin with this post in the macOS realm:
I’ve been a fan and user of Evernote since nearly the beginning of it’s existence in 2008. While changes to Evernote’s subscription model has caused angst in the Evernote community, I find the around $6/month cost to be well worth it. It has become the digital file cabinet than I can access on my Mac, iPad, iPhone, Chromebook (web based), and even Android or Kindle tablets. It syncs seamlessly and whatever meeting I’m in, I have the data I need.
Administrators are often ruled by their calendars and as such, this piece of software has to run efficiently and accurately. There are many good choices out there if you want to avoid Apple’s built in calendar. Google Calendar is very solid and a brand new interface debuted this month. A long time Mac App, BusyCal is excellent with travel info and weather integrated right in the app. But the gold standard both on iOS and macOS is Fantastical. It is the original natural language calendar app which allows you to type everyday language and it easily parses the event into the right day, time, and title. The iOS app is simple and easy to read as well which is so important when you’re moving fast.
I have tried a number of blogging software programs from Blogo, Desk, to the built in WordPress template. While I am experimenting with the Ulysses strategy for blogging (see below), the most dependable app for blogging on the Mac is MarsEdit. It has a clean interface, pictures and media are inserted easily, and it handle multiple blogs easily.
I have been a productivity geek for a long time since the first version of OmniFocus (OF) was released. I have toggled between OF and Things so many times that when I first published this blog post, this is what I wrote: Which of these ten apps could I not live without? My workflow has to include at least Evernote and a task manager. I was a long time user of OmniFocus and I still recognize it as the most powerful of it’s kind. But the newest version of Things (3) lured me with its simplicity and frankly, it gave me just what I need in a task manager and no more. Alas, this week I transferred back to OF due to its more in-depth features and stronger community of users. I would recommend a host of task managers such as Nozbe, Todoist, Remember The Milk, as well as Things as OF. Each takes a different version of David Allen’s Getting Things Done (GTD) perspective and it comes down to personal preference. A busy educator, though, needs some sort of task management system.
Writers are constantly moving text from one place to another. Copy and pasting traditionally allows the user to only take the last snippet copied. However, with programs such as Pastebot, the writer has the ability to copy and keep scores of text and pictures in one program and access them anytime he/she wants.
This little piece software easily qualifies as a “gem”. With Popclip installed, the user simply highlights a piece of text and then flies the content to over 100 other software locations (such as Evernote). One can also check a word’s spelling or look in up in a dictionary. In fact, there are now 169 free extensions. Best $10 you can spend.
What Ulysses is for shorter form writing, Scrivener shines for longer projects. Whether you’re working on a dissertation or completing evaluations on staff that require many reference materials, Scrivener leads the pack. It was originally designed for novel writing but it can be used for nearly every type of writing.
I have tried nearly every mail program for macOS (and iOS for that matter) and I’m probably still not done experimenting. Where Apple Mail just doesn’t cut it, many third party apps succeed. Airmail is pretty and is more customizable that any other app of it’s kind. Postbox is built upon the old Thunderbolt architecture but has power features I will never need. Polymail is a new email venture for businesses and Newton (formally Cloudmagic) is streamlined and pretty but is now on a subscription model. Spark is my email of choice as I end the year. It is speedy, accurate, clean, and most importantly, it integrates quite well with Evernote and Things (see below).
There are many options now to expand text; that is, to store larger amounts of text that are cued from shorter snippets. Thus, I can type “;wvc” and William V. Carozza appears. The best known program of this type is Text Expander but it is a costly venture at $40 a year. The original software program of this type is TypeIt4Me which fits my work flow just fine.
Finally, the program I am using to type this post is Ulysses. As I just tweeted tonight (and was promptly “liked” by the developer), I will admit…I was pretty ticked at @ulyssesapp at first for going subscription. But with a reasonable discount and the fact that it is the best writing app for the Mac, I’m all in. Ulysses is smooth, distraction free and works better than any program I have used for writing that does not require significant research to complete.
Being as productive as possible allows the school administrator to spend more time on the things that really matter. It gives me more time to be in classrooms, to support teachers, and to move forward on goals. These 10 programs are powerful in helping me be as efficient as possible.
What are the top apps that allow you to be productive?