After some time that I’ve spent on behemoth essays (those articles which Shall Not Be Named), I’ve gotta catch up in my scheduled posts. So the next few posts will be easy quickies on more basic, surface-level topics. And what better way to start then to do another Productivity Tool World Tour.
Okay, I guess there has never officially been a Productivity Tool World Tour (PTWT for short). When I first started the newsletter, one of the benefits of joining were that you received a “bonus” post called Top Ten Tools I Use On A Daily Basis, perhaps the most clickbait and hivemind-sounding post I have released. In the short time frame that it was a reward, I must have rewritten the post two or three times because my “tools I use on a daily basis” kept changing — I kept finding new tools, replacing old ones, then replacing new tools with the old ones which it turned out I liked more anyway. This is where the idea of the PTWT first came into play.
This time it’s official, and the rules are a little bit different: I’m simply going over every tool I’ve used, and writing a short review on it. I’ll leave it to you, the reader, to decide which one sounds the most interesting to you. Sounds good? Let’s get into it.
Habitica [Used premium] – The old glory for me. I think I have used Habitica the most out of any productivity app, and it still works the best for my setup. I’ve talked about how “life gamification” can help you become more productive in the past, and being able to quantize the amount of work I’m doing and how that relates to what sort of breaks/goofing off I can do allows me to balance things more easily.
Todoist [Used premium] – I’ve used Todoist a decent amount as well, and I do think it is the best “pure” todo list app. But it is missing the “Tasks → Rewards” concept that I mentioned with Habitica. For some people this won’t be a big deal and if you do just need a tool to organize all the shit you have to do then I do think Todoist is the best way to go.
Pomofocus – Okay, so the focus here is technically the Pomodoro timer and not the todo list. But I do think Pomofocus punches its weight as an all-around good tool. The Pomodoro Timer is of course probably the best productivity invention of all time, but Pomofocus brings it up a notch with a lot of nice added features and functionality.
Microsoft Todo – Microsoft Todo is rebranded Wunderlist, which a long time ago used to be considered the best Todo list app on the market. Honestly Microsoft didn’t really do that much to make it worse in any way, I think people just got thrown off by the Microsoft name, plus the fact that Microsoft doesn’t really pay too much attention to it anymore.
Evernote [Used premium] – A lot of hiveminders seem to insist that “Evernote is dead” and honestly I have no idea what the fuck they’re talking about. I don’t personally use it but every normal person I’ve come across seems to use either it or OneNote. I’ve never met another Obsidian or Notion or (lord forbid) Roam Research user in my entire life, just Evernote and OneNote users. And this has stayed stable throughout time. Anyway, the app itself: It’s a pretty standard modern notetaker. You can clip web content, you can drag images in, you can draw stuff, etc. etc. It’s pretty neat, though can get messy with all the weird formats it takes in.
OneNote [Used premium] – OneNote is Evernote but made by Microsoft. There is no difference beyond the fact that I think the drawing features are a little bit better in OneNote than in Evernote. Full disclosure I have only used OneNote for school and work, never for personal use.
Simplenote – It’s Simplenote. It’s a notebook, and it’s simple. Though after they pushed out a backlinking feature after that became trendy, it might not be the most simple, but the idea still applies. If you just want something that has the lowest amount of clutter possible, but can also sync across all your devices, try this.
Roam Research [Used premium] – I used Roam Research for a very limited time, and missed most of the “Roam cult” stuff. I will say that backlinks really changed the game when it comes to notetaking and I’m absolutely shocked that it took until, what, 2019? for a software developer to realize that a personal wiki approach to notetaking was very, very smart. But hey, we finally got there, and now everybody does it.
Obsidian – Speaking of backlinking (or I guess people just call it “zettelkasten” now), Obsidian I think is the best when it comes to this. Unfortunately at the time I used this it was local only, which was a major drawback for me — though it looks like now they’re adding cloud saves in. Time to check it out once more, perhaps?
Notion – Notion, Notion, Notion. Could it go down as the greatest productivity tool of all time? Honestly, it has a pretty good chance. At this point the only reason I’m not running literally everything out of the tool is simply out of fear of putting all my eggs in one basket, in the slim chance that Notion shuts down. And there have been some occasional hiccups and downtimes with the service where I have gotten a glimpse of what a future without Notion might be. It isn’t pretty. But if you are daring enough, you can probably ignore the entirety of this article and just make Notion your todo list, notetaker, bookmarker, and cloud storage all in one.
Workflowy – Workflowy is a very popular tool among select Hivemind elite, and honestly I kind of get it. It’s a todo list and notetaker in one, and it has a very simple and intuitive premise. Just a very long, very deep bulleted list.
Readwise [Used premium] – There was a time in my life where daily email reminders of stuff I highlighted would be a phenomenal sell, but unfortunately I figured out a solution to that problem long before I ever used Readwise. Using Readwise now, it does have some interesting features but the regular recall is still the best tool it has. If you don’t have a solution for it already, I highly suggest Readwise in that case.
Instapaper [Used premium] – Yes, Instapaper is cool, and if you’re using it with Readwise there’s a lot of nice integrations between the two. But now, MyMind does both. Once again, it’s a matter of personal preference.
Google Drive [Used premium] – Google Drive is my cloud storage of choice, though “choice” is a bit of a misnomer here. OneDrive is pretty jank and doesn’t have the size requirements I need, and MEGA just straight up won’t accept my credit card. So I’m stuck with Google. Though it works out in the end, since most of my writing is still done in Google Docs (even though this too is beginning to be taken over by Notion…)
OneDrive – Like I mentioned, OneDrive isn’t really that great. Well, it’s good if you use windows pretty much exclusively — but if you use an Apple tablet and an Android phone (two devices that, take in mind, Microsoft doesn’t make anymore) then the quality of the engineering begins to deteriorate a bit. Other than that, it comes down to the fact that Google offers terabytes and OneDrive doesn’t.
MEGA – MEGA is, ironically, probably my preferred choice of storage. But there were some key blockers for me, beyond just the credit card issues (a thing which, according to many United States users, is a common issue). The transfer cap is a bit annoying and there are filetypes that cannot be read in comparison to GDrive, but overall its the cheapest price for the most storage, and they don’t spy on you unlike Google and Microsoft probably do.
Anyway, that wraps up my quick reviews on all the productivity tools I can think of so far. Like I said, these next few posts are going to be light on thinking and more on just general content. Still, hope you enjoyed!