Productivity Apps for Notes and Documents

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This recent FastCompany article about decluttering projects, notes and documents, made me think about my own productivity apps and learn what else is there to make productivity even better.

Tania Rascia, a Chicago-based web developer, has been one of my favorite developers because she writes simple, easy-to-follow tutorial guides on JavaScript, React, and the web in general. I have immensely benefited from her tutorial guides. In the past, I got cues from her recommended productivity tools, such as Simple Notes, Obsidian, and others that I use on a daily basis. To update my productivity tools, I went back to this article and took a cue, including her selection criteria.

One of my guiding principles has been to look at the location where my content is stored and whether it’s free or open-source software. I prefer apps that store data on my desktop, as long as they are available.

Below is a list of productivity tools that I currently use on a daily basis:

Notes taking

  • Simplenotes: The simplenotes, as the name implies, is a minimalist text-based note-taking app owned by Automattic. Though it’s cross-platform, I primarily use the desktop version for note-taking. It is one of my most used apps to outline articles, do literature research, and take notes.
  • Obsidian: I have begun using Obsidian for my article drafts since I started writing longer articles for external publications. This app uses Markdown formatting, and the premium version syncs with different devices, similar to the Simplenotes. But I use the free version, and it works well for copying text directly to other editors or applications, even though it sometimes adds extra spaces (divs) for line breaks. 
  • Apple Notes: Though it’s claimed by some to be a useful, simple note-taking app for Mac users that syncs across all devices, I have not made extensive use of it. However, I am trying it out occasionally to see how it works, though I am happy with the Simplenotes.

For tasks handling

  • Simplenotes. I have been my go-to for to-dos and task management. It’s easy to use and works well for my simple lifestyle.
  • Apple’s Reminder. Inspired by this article, I have been experimenting with this app since the beginning of the year. It’s simple, as claimed, and it syncs to all Mac gadgets, but I’m still figuring it out its full potential. My early impression is that it appears to be helpful in managing my daily tasks.

Documents handling

The primarily use the following two apps for document sharing, comment handling, and other editorial processes during the external publication of my articles.

  • Google Docs: The Google Docs interface is similar to that of Microsoft Word, and has version history, comment posting, and all the other features of a word processing application.
  • Dropbox Paper: Similar to Google Docs, this app also contains document creation, sharing, and “co-editing” tools in one place.

Journaling

  • Day One: Inspired by this Verge article, I have been using this app daily since last year, which I am finding useful. I wrote about this app here in this short note post.
  • Apple Journal: This is the app I have been closely keeping an eye on since it was announced. At the moment, this app is only available for iPhones, but I am not a fan of writing on an iPhone. I am waiting for the desktop version to be released before I begin using it

What I am trying out this year?

Strides: Inspired by this Tania’s article, I plan to experiment this app to tracks few things everyday or week.

The concept of Strides is to set trackers. I’m only using it for fitness related goals right now, so I have a weight tracker that I have set for once a week, and various exercises that I either do daily or weekly. They conveniently have a lot of pre-set trackers that you define, so it’s also great for budgeting, waking up early, and so on. Still, my main recommendation would be to track as few things as possible, and slightly less then what you actually want to do.

– Tania Rascia on Goals

I may consider using this app as my activity tracker to complement my Apple Watch.

Related resource links