This week, I want to do something a little different. The reality of this site is that I talk about a lot of applications, each with their own merits. I’ll never mention an app here I haven’t and wouldn’t use myself, but the reality is many of them don’t stick. I don’t use everything I’ve ever mentioned here – far from it.
I’m a serial app tester, tweaker, and am constantly trying to squeeze every last ounce of usefulness from an application. To all the people who say that playing with productivity is an oxymoron, I say you’re right, but I don’t care. I love it. I love trying combinations of apps to see what works and what doesn’t – that’s where a lot of the material for this site comes from.
But, this week, I’m going to share with you all a bit of myself, and a deeper look into how I actually get things done. This post is a bit of an overview, and over the course of the week I’ll take deeper looks into various parts of my technological life – mobile working, productivity systems, and the like.
But first, the big picture. Below are 15 applications that I use every day – and some far more often than that. For any long-time reader of this site, most of these won’t come as a surprise – I use many of the applications I’ve reviewed here, but I use many of them differently than a lot of people. That’s where the rest of the week comes in, so stay tuned! Here goes:
Google Calendar – What can I say? It was the first app I tried, it did everything I needed it to, it synced to my phone and my iPod Touch. Game over.
Google Reader – Most of the information I consume online comes in the form of RSS feeds. They all go into Google Reader, and I’d be in bad shape without it. I’ve started using FeedDemon a bit for offline RSS reading, but only because it syncs with Google Reader.
Evernote – Altogether too much to say (this one’s getting its own post this week). Suffice to say it’s amazing.
Remember the Milk – See above.
TweetDeck – Most social networks I just use from the browser. Not Twitter – TweetDeck lets me create groups, search, tweet and be tweeted easier than any other application I’ve tried. It’s a bit of a memory hog, but as far as I’m concerned, it’s earned it.
Windows Live Writer – Blogging from your browser window is both cumbersome and dangerous – what if you accidentally close the tab, or your Internet goes out? Using Windows Live Writer, you don’t have to worry. There are a ton of useful plugins, support for posting to multiple blogs, and many more useful features.
WordPress – Everyone’s got their own opinion about which blogging software is the best; anyone who says something other than WP is a dirty liar. WP is the best, whether you’ve never had a blog or work for TechCrunch (I have no idea if TechCrunch uses WordPress, but they should). And so should you.
Buzzword – If I’m not at my computer, all document editing is done with Buzzword. It’s pretty, easy to use, available everywhere, and did I mention it’s pretty?
IrfanView – The only app I use for basic image editing. IrfanView converts between a huge number of formats, and makes resizing and basic editing incredibly simple. It’s free, it’s lightweight, and it’s better than most programs that are neither of those things.
Clicky – Far and away the best analytics tool for blogs. I suggest using more than one tool, because none is perfect, but Clicky’s awfully close. Tons of information, easy-to-understand, and hugely helpful for figuring out who your audience is as well as how to grow it.
Mobitivity (Mobile + Productivity. Get it? I’m hysterical)
Tiny Twitter – The best Windows Mobile Twitter app. Makes me productive, and connected, wherever I am. Easy to read and filter my tweets, and send tweets of my own. I tried a bunch of different apps, and always came back to Tiny Twitter.
Read it Later – I don’t have a bookmarks software, or use any social bookmarking site. I use Read it Later – easy to save, access, and read pages. An awesome Firefox extension, as well as a new application and set of bookmarklets for the iPhone.
Instapaper – When it comes to longer-form reading, I like the simplicity and speed of Instapaper. It’s easy to download things to read offline, as well as maintain your list online. It lives on my iPod Touch and my computer, and is the perfect “to read” folder – not to mention one I use extensively.
Air Sharing – Moving files to my iPod Touch has never been easier. AirSharing connects to my iTouch over any Wi-Fi network, and syncs files back and forth. Awesome if I need to access a file on the road, or just want to read a PDF. Keeping it as a quasi-backup for immediately important documents has saved me a number of different times.
Google Chrome – It’s fast, and has built-in support for Google Gears, and an awesome ability to make applications out of single websites. Now my Google Calendar and Gmail are standalone apps, making them much easier to find and use. It’s not my default browser yet, and won’t be until there’s extension support, but it’s the one I like using most.
Firefox – Three words: Extensions, extensions, extensions. Three more: The Awesome bar. Six last ones: It just works better than others.
UltraMon – A must-have for anyone using multiple monitors, UltraMon means you can have toolbars on each monitor, move applications between monitors with simple keystrokes, and use your screen real estate far better.
This week, we’ll be talking in greater detail about some of these applications, as well as how they all fit together to make what’s become my system for living a digital life.
What apps make this list for you?