Published: May 24, 2021
Reading Time: 8 mins
As someone that is interested in systems and workflows, I’m always curious about the tools other people use to make them more productive.
With that in mind, I decided to write this article to share with you the apps I am currently using as a creator and how I use them daily to get my work done.
I should add here that I use the term creator to refer to anyone that creates things.
In my case, I write blog articles, design, and build websites.
I use Todoist (aff) as my task management system.
I use it to capture all the tasks, reminders, and random thoughts from my brain so I can refine it later.
The fact that there is both a mobile and a web version means I can use this app wherever I am to capture things.
I’ve talked about Todoist at length in many other articles on this site.
Here’s a curated list of articles for you to check out:
Obsidian has become the most valuable tool in my creator’s arsenal.
I use Obsidian to capture literature notes on what I read, watch, and listen to. This serves as a source of inspiration when it comes to writing new articles.
I most recently started saving great Tweets from Twitter into my Obsidian vault.
Obsidian also stores all the articles I write for this website. Each article has an associated note which contains all the useful metadata, checklists, and the content itself.
It also acts as one of my Inboxes (alongside Todoist) where I capture random thoughts and ideas as they come to mind during work.
If you’re interested to learn more about how I use Obsidian, I’ve linked a few great articles for you to read below:
Notion started out as my tool for everything thanks to it’s generous free plan.
Today, it serves me as a highly customizable project management system. I use it to store things like my quarterly goals, detail about projects I’m working on, and it’s where I do my weekly reviews.
Notion is also the hub for all of the content I want to consume. It’s my library for books, web articles, great tweets, and more.
Not to mention, I use Notion in my “day job” to manage meeting notes, project documentation, and my work weekly reviews.
So it’s fair to say Notion still has a strong hold over me and how I do my work.
Despite the recent issues it’s been facing with outages and the glaring lack of an offline-mode, it’s still a big part of my daily work.
I suppose long-term I might consider moving away from Notion in favor of a different project management tool. But, for now it does what it needs to.
If you’d like to read more about my Notion setups, here are some articles:
I have my library of digital books stored in Google Play Books.
I make time everyday to read. In fact, it’s the first thing I do each day before work.
By having my books stored in Google Play Books, I can read them on my tablet. I can also highlight pieces of text and add notes to add context to what I’m reading.
Once I’ve read the book, I then have a wealth of highlights and great notes that I can migrate into my PKM.
These notes also move into my Knowledge Vault of Digital Notes. If that’s something you’d like to know more about you can check that out here: Knowledge Vault of My Digital Notes.
Something I need to point out here is that the UI of Google Play Books isn’t the best.
There’s no way of grouping books by category. That exists as a tag system on the web version, but on mobile and tablet it doesn’t exist.
Things could certainly be improved.
Again though, this app serves its purpose right now which is why I continue to use it.
Feedly is my “content aggregator”.
There are a lot of great creators out there online. With that said, it would take up so much of my time to go to each blog individually and read the latest articles.
So, Feedly let’s me follow all of the websites I want from a centralized location.
Some notable sites I follow include:
While I don’t read and annotate the article from inside of Feedly (that’s a premium feature), I use it to scan for great articles I’d like to read later.
I do my highlighting and note taking inside of Notion which I talked about above.
I’ve mentioned Typora a few times in recent articles as I use it to do my writing.
Typora is a simple and distraction-free markdown editor. In fact, it’s the tool I recommend for people to start learning Markdown because it’s so clear and helpful.
I love using this app for all of my writing. Once I sit down to do a block of writing, I turn on full-screen mode, play some Lo-Fi beats from Spotify and I’m totally in the writing mode.
I even use it at my day job for technical writing work like user guides and other training material.
Here are some other articles I wrote that talk about Typora:
Spotify and the Lo-Fi Beats playlist are my secret weapon for focused work.
Actually, I think music in general is a great tool for focus, creativity, and mood-boosting.
Every time I sit down to write, I start this playlist and it primes my brain to do some writing.
It’s become like a type of white noise that helps me to stay focused and in the flow. Because there are no lyrics, I don’t get distracted by singing along.
The other side of this then is when I’m working on “low energy tasks”. These are tasks that don’t really require a lot of mental capacity. I can do them basically without thinking.
This is the time when I break out my “Good Music playlist” which is a curated playlist of great songs I enjoy. I can sing along to my heart’s content while getting my low energy tasks done.
This always puts me in a good mood so I’m sure to do it pretty regularly.
I use Canva for creating graphics like cover images for articles, social media graphics.
I even created my CV/Resumé in Canva.
Although I’m pretty well able to use Photoshop and Illustrator, Canva allows me to create graphics using drag and drop as well as providing me with a great resource of graphics and icons.
It allows you to add color and style to your content without a lot of hard work.
Right now I’m using the free version which is just enough but the premium version has lots of additional features like more storage, access to premium resources and a brand kit.
Xmind is the tool I use to create mind maps.
I love creating mind maps, I think they’re a great way of getting your thoughts and ideas out of your head and connecting them in interesting ways.
In the past, I used mind maps as a way to study for exams; a method that proved to be very effective.
Today, I create mind maps of the books I read. This allows me to consider the content I’ve read and restructure points in ways that make more sense to me.
I include all of my book-related mind maps in my Knowledge Vault of Digital notes which you can learn more about here: Knowledge Vault of My Digital Notes.
I hope you found some value in reading this article.
Are there any apps you would recommend that aren’t on this list?
How many of these apps do you use?
Let me know over on Twitter.
Here are some more articles you might like to read next:
Design Insight is a weekly newsletter filled with design resources, tips, and insights to make you a better designer. It's sent directly to your inbox every Friday.
Click the button below to go to the Design Insight newsletter and sign up.