It has been five months since life BI (Before iPad). I have downloaded over 100 apps for professional and personal use, the lion share being educational games for my 3-year old daughter. There are about 10 go-to apps I use on a daily basis but two have increased my personal and professional productivity greatly — Springpad and Evernote. People have asked if I am employed by these companies because I rave about them so often. No spiffs or Red Door Interactive clients here, just pure productivity bliss.
For years, I have been searching for a tool to get rid of my paper to do list, and the to do list of what items need to go on the to do lists. I’d carry this list around that reminded me of everything from important calls to proposals to write to drink water — yes, on my list or I forget then wonder why I have a headache. Tasks in Outlook are too linear and categorizing options are limited. I downloaded and tested several task management apps and Springpad quickly rose to the top.
If you have ever read the book Getting Things Done by David Allen, Springpad is the perfect complement to the work-life management system that “transforms personal overwhelm and overload into an integrated system of stress-free productivity.”
At the top level in Springpad, users create Notebooks. My notebooks include Call List, various client and prospect folders, Marketing, Scorecard (my individual goals for Red Door), Ideas, Reading List, Junior Achievement Board and Personal to name a few. Within those Notebooks, you have the ability the add Tasks and Checklists.
At the Task level, you have the ability to add notes, categories, photos, audio files, reminders, share the task to Facebook or Twitter, add a due date and my favorite feature – Notebook Flags. Notebook Flags allow you to save a task to multiple notebooks. For example, I have a task to “Call Vanessa” tomorrow. That task can live in two notebooks – Call List or Shea Homes. I love this feature because we don’t necessarily work the same way every day. Some days there is a window to make a few calls, and other days, I know I need to focus on our client, Shea Homes. I can add the task in one area and it shows up in any number of Notebooks I elect to save it to.
Springpad allows you to view your projects from a variety of angles – you can view all Tasks by due date, date added or category; or choose to dive in at the specific Notebook level and have the same level of sorting features.
An additional feature is the Springpad Clipper which has become a favorite for morning email review. If you’re like me, you subscribe to way too many media outlets and newsletters from world, business, local and marketing specific news. I could do nothing but read articles all day long. I inevitably glance at some headlines, read one or two articles that are of interest and then delete the rest. I used to forward myself links to articles that I’d read later… never happens as they get lost in a sea of emails or deleted because my email inbox is getting too full. Enter Springpad Clipper, a browser-based plug-in that allows you to save any URL to the Notebook of your choice. The next time I visit my Notebook, the article is waiting for me to read. And, I usually save to two places – Reading List and Shea Homes, if it is an interesting article regarding marketing for homebuilders, for example. This tool allows me to build my own newspaper that I can read at my leisure and not miss important and relevant content. Other tools on the iPad offer similar functionality as well including Instapaper.
Springpad Notebooks are also shareable so you can add items on To Do lists that you share with others. My husband loves this feature for Notebooks we share such as House Projects (kidding – he hates it as his “Honey-Do” list is never ending).
Springpad is available on iPad, iPhone, Android and desktop versions so your to do list is with you wherever you need it or when a thought creeps into your head of something you need to get done. This most often happens to me while grocery shopping or at. 3 a.m. They recently released an update of their desktop version that has weakened the user experience but all-in-all it is a fantastic tool.
Evernote has several products but I currently use the standard version for note taking. Similar to Springpad, you can set up Notebooks for your various projects. The app has a light word processing feature that allows you to do basic formatting as you’d have in any WYSIWYG. I have killed many a trees with the note taking I’ve done over the past two decades. Since finding Evernote, I have had the same notepad for writing for months as I rarely use it.
If your calendar is synced with your iPad, when you pop open Evernote, it automatically titles your note based on whatever meeting is happening at the same time. All notes are stored chronologically and searchable by keyword. Evernote is powerful in that it allows you access to your notes in real time so when you are in a meeting, you can easily access the notes and action items from the previous meeting. My notebooks in Evernote and Springpad mirror one another and I frequently flip back and forth between both apps real time when in a meeting so I don’t have to comb through notes after a meeting to remember my action items. I add them real-time in Springpad.
The notebooks are shareable and you can take photos with your iPad and have them automatically saved into context with the note. If I want to do sketches, the app Noteshelf allows you to draw whatever your heart desires and sends them as PDFs.
There are many great apps out there but I’ve found these are the two that have increased productivity the greatest and the best part is they are both free. Evernote does have a premium version for additional features however the free version offers a lot. Please share any apps you are using that have changed your productivity or workflow.