Christopher Warren posed a question in this week’s MEAA e-bulletin asking journos which writing productivity tools or apps you can’t live without. I thought about my tech obsessions; the things I use for communicating, writing, recording, organising and
procrastinating playing, and I decided to put up a list of some of my faves.
NB: some of the links below are referrals, so by clicking through and signing up, you help me out by giving me temporary access to premium services from those providers.
I’ve been using Evernote religiously for the past four years. While I still carry pen and paper almost everywhere I go, nothing beats being able to access the notes I’ve made from any one of the five devices that I work from (ie my Samsung smartphone, iPad mini, Macbook Air, iMac and work laptop). If an idea for an article comes to me on the train, I can open the app on my smartphone and type it in quickly and if the idea was inspired by something I saw, I can take photos and add them to that note. When I get off the train and sit at my desk, I can fire up that note on any of my computers and continue working on it. If I interview someone about that topic, I can record the conversation and add it straight to the note. The text is searchable and I’ve also organised my notes into several virtual notebooks, so I can work on multiple projects on the fly. If I’m working on my novel but need to leave my home office to get to an appointment, I sync Evernote and can keep working on it during the commute. I’m so in love with the app that my workmates got me the matching Evernote Moleskine as a gift. Can’t wait to play with it!
I’m a lists whore. I have lists for everything. And sometimes those lists give birth to more lists. Trello is every list-person’s dream come true, because it allows you to see those lists on a big board and lets you organise, move and assign items to different lists. You can add attachments, images, check-box items, track the progress of your project and set deadlines (which you can sync to your calendar so you can see when things are due). Trello is also great for managing group projects, as you can share boards and assign tasks to other group members. You can add comments on each others’ list items, vote for ideas and use it as a collaboration tool.
If you’re writing is long and wordy, the Hemingway App will make it bold and clear. As you’re typing, Hemingway App will highlight difficult sentences, passive voice, complex phrases and adverbs. This is a great tool for when you need to punch out something quickly and don’t enough time or energy to think about it. It’s not perfect because sometimes it’s more suitable for your writing to exceed Grade 7 reading difficulty, but it’s super helpful and I’m glad my colleagues introduced me to it.
If you want to make your documents, pamphlets, blog posts or Pinterest boards pop, sign up to Canva. It’s a web-based image editing tool that lets you add different design elements (like text, icons and banners) to page layouts or existing photographs using a really simple drag-and-drop WYSIWYG interface. Some layouts are free, and if you want to use premium content, each element costs $1. Genius.
A wifi SD card
For bloggers and journos who take lots of cool snaps, a wifi SD card lets you access your images immediately from any wifi-enabled device (like your phone, tablet or laptop) without having to use a cable or card reader. I bought the Transcend 32 GB Wi-Fi SDHC Class 10 memory card from Amazon a few months ago and I can view and download photos I’ve shot while the card is still sitting in my Canon DSLR. When I’m playing with the aperture on my 50mm lens, I can also immediately view shots on a bigger device (like my iPad mini) to check if I’ve got the focus right (sometimes you just can’t tell how blurry something is if all you’re viewing is the 1.5″ LCD on your camera). I’ve been warned they’re not the most stable/reliable, so I won’t be shooting super important wedding or corporate gigs with these babies (not that I do wedding or corporate photography anyway), but I’ve yet to experience any file corruption issues, and it’s so handy to decrease the number of gadgets one has to lug inside an already heavy camera bag.
Like Evernote, Dropbox lets me access my files from any device, with the added of convenience of syncing items automatically and saving a local copy of designated files or folders, so I don’t always need an internet connection to view the documents I need. Thank goodness for cloud computing!
If Trello is overkill for you and you just want simple, streamlined checklists that also happen to sync to your Google account, GTasks is your friend. Available for Apple and Android devices, it lets you create, colour code and organise lists, set item due dates. I use it for any simple list – from things I need to do today (and I have this list showing as a widget on my phone’s home screen), our weekly shopping list, to the standard things I need to pack for a overnight stay with Mr 2.
Have I missed any good ones? What are the apps and tool on your must-have list?