With the ubiquity of technology in our time, have you ever noticed the quirky little ways people use their devices and apps? When I speak to people who don’t consider themselves “techie”, in particular, one funny thing I’ve noticed is how clever they often are at subverting an app’s intended purpose to meet their own needs, just like “techie” people always are. So many folks don’t realize how “techie” they actually are simply because they haven’t self-designated themselves as such. In a time when it’s normal for a suburban, middle-class adolescent to own a $1000 phone, I feel we should all start to realize and embrace our inner Digital Jedi.
People often ask me how I manage to juggle middle classing, suburbaniting, professionalizing, bum-wiping, and blogging while still catching at least a quarter of each Raptors game. Two words: #MyWorkflow. I thought I’d take a sec to share it with you, and I’m hoping some of you will be inclined to follow suit with the hashtag #MyWorkflow. Note that none of the following companies have paid me with either money or Yakitori to endorse their products.
The #MyWorkflow series is where I share fun and/or useful little ways that I’m using technology that may or may not be unexpected. Full disclosure: I use Apple devices so I apologize if my posts occasionally ignore all the great things Android, PC, Chromebook, Ubuntu and other devices can do. Please post your own #MyWorkflow, tag me on it, and I’d be happy to share with others. See the rest of my posts in the series here.
Some people have mortgages with banks, I have one with Apple. As you can see, I rock a 13 inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display, a 64GB iPhone 6, and a rarely used iPad 4th generation with Retina. I also am lucky to have a Pencil with Fiftythree which occasionally makes appearances.
Password Management (NOTE: I updated my post and moved this app to the top as I believe it underpins the use of all the ones which follow #essential.)
What it does for me: OK I lied earlier; I am actually a part of two cults: Evernote and 1Password. This app allows me to have complex passwords for all of my accounts while only having to remember one of them. It’s the one which makes my entire workflow possible, in fact. How else could I have secure passwords for all the other accounts I mention in this post? I absolutely love have extensions in all of my browsers (including on my iPhone) which allow me to save and input them at any time. If you are not using something like this, I’m sure you likely swear a lot whenever you’ve got to use the internet.
What I still wish it would do: Can’t think of a thing at the moment.
What it does for me: It’s simple and less cluttered with ads, promoted tweets, and such than many other apps. My timeline also syncs across all my devices.
What I still wish it would do: Get my notifications right. Sometimes I get them, sometimes I don’t.
Task Management/To Dos
What it does for me: I’ve been using Things for over five years and it has yet to let me down. It syncs across all my devices, and chooses high functionality over form. It just does the job.
What I still wish it would do: For some reason, the iPad version does not play nice on cloud syncing with my other devices, so I don’t use it at all. I’d also like to see the ability to split days into morning, afternoon, and evening, instead of one long stream.
What they do for me: I use the native iOS and Mac calendar app in conjunction with both iCloud and Google Calendar syncing. I put a calendar on the latter if it’s one that I intend to share publicly or with someone outside of my family.
What I still wish they would do: This may be an overly optimistic thing to say considering there can only ever be so much screen real estate, but I wish I could see events in my monthly view without some disappearing due to lack of space.
What it does for me: Yes, I am a member of the Evernote Cult because it helps me remember everything. I use it for all my text-based notes, articles I’ve shared or want to keep, as well as family projects. Believe me, to delineate everything I use this wonderful app for would be agonizing for anyone to read.
What I still wish it would do: I really wish it would sync with the app which follows…
What it does for me: Well, I’ve always wanted to be like Giulia Forsythe, so I’ve started sketchnoting at conferences and workshops. It really helps me from multitasking on my devices, and focussing deeply on thinking about the content I’m learning.
What I still wish it would do: I wish it were easier to integrate photos/video and typed text. Also, as mentioned above, please sync with Evernote!
What they do for me: Ugh, email. I guess we have to live with it. I tried Mailbox but it wasn’t for me, as I’m not one to put emails off until later. I have both my work and personal accounts still flowing through my native OSX and iOS Mail because, quite frankly, I haven’t found a better, less-emaily alternative.
What I still wish they would do: Create a world where email was unnecessary?
What they do for me: All of these companies keep asking you to put all of your figurative eggs in their basket, but why not just use all of them? Dropbox is by far the most reliable for cloud storage, but Drive is better for collaboration, and iCloud is handy for syncing Numbers, Keynote, Pages, and other iOS or OSX apps.
What I still wish they would do: I wish iCloud would get it’s act together and actually be reliable. “Will it sync, or will it not?” is a question that’s so 2009. Come on, Apple, up your game already!
File Transfer Between Devices
What they do for me: People, how awesome is texting to move files around. It’s the best, right? It’s kind of like when you discover as a child that kitchen utensils make awesome weapons. As for Dropbox, enough said.
What I still wish they would do: I’m pretty satisfied as it is.
RSS Feeds/Online Reading
What it does for me: Google Reader who? I sync Feedly across my devices to keep track of all of my blog and website subscriptions. It’s my morning paper, or, rather, my all day paper.
What I still wish it would do: I’m not the biggest fan of the design of the app. The user experience is fine, but aesthetically I’m left a little wanting.
What it does for me: I’m a podcast listening fiend. I swear I think it’s reached pathological heights. To feed my addiction, I use Downcast because it just works. New episodes sync seamlessly, and I love the controls such as reverse and fast forward. I’ve used quite a few podcatchers; this one’s the most reliable of them all.
What I still wish it would do: A desktop app would be nice.
What it does for me: Google Maps > Apple Maps. Wait, is >>>>>>>> a math symbol as well? Because, if so, that’s the one I should have used.
What I still wish it would do: Not creepily track every aspect of my movement on earth… but then it wouldn’t be as intuitive as it is. Alas, the eternal conundrum of the 21st Century app user.
Link Shortening and Saving
What it does for me: I ditched Diigo, Delicious, and all those other social bookmarking sites for this one. I love the fact that I can make customized short links on it. Also, by employing it with IFTTT (see below), I pretty much automate any link I ever post to automatically be saved in my bit.ly library as well as Evernote.
What I still wish it would do: Can’t think of a thing.
What it does for me: Yes, I strangely enjoy going to the supermarket, and yes, I have seen a doctor about this. How about a cloud-synced list that you and your spouse can edit at any time, even while shopping live? See, it doesn’t take much for me to get excited.
What I still wish it would do: I would love to able to set weekly lists that recur.
What it does for me: See all of the apps above? Well, I can make most of them talk to each other by creating and remixing “recipes” for automated tasks. For example, I have one which automagically creates an Evernote every time I share a link on social media.
What I still wish it would do: Stoop and scoop for my dogs on our walks.
So, c’mon, don’t be shy. Share your workflow with the world, post it on Twitter with #MyWorkflow, and share the link in the comments section of this post. Have a nice, cloud-synced day!