It’s been an incredibly busy last few months and time to write has been pretty scarce. I have also been working on some bigger projects that I want to post about but they are no where near fully baked. One thing that has gained a lot of attention has been my move away from OmniFocus.
If you have read this site with any sort of regularity, you’ll know how much I base what I do on OmniFocus. It has guided my days, both at home and at work, for years. There are a lot of reasons for my exploration. Some are driven by my disappointment with OmniFocus 2 for iOS, some are driven by the previous Mac beta casting some serious doubts on Omni Group’s direction for the product.
As time passed, it became obvious how difficult it is to replace an app like OmniFocus but I’m trying things that suit me very well in some ways but not so much in others. I’m not sure if they’ll work out yet and when they do, I will post the process and results of this study here. One thing I can say with certainty – re-evaluating your position on a system that you have used for a long time is an illuminating look into the habits that define you. It is also incredibly disruptive when you’re trying to get shit done.
Recently Omni Group released a new Mac beta for OmniFocus. Once it gets more stable, I will return to it full time. For now, it crashes too often for real-world use but I was happy with some of the new direction and features. I was encouraged.
So that all said, there’s no OmniFocus on my Home screen for the first time since OmniFocus’s release on iOS. Crazy stuff.
Phone has undergone some significant changes for the better in iOS 7.1. They show up in subtle ways but I think Apple made the app vastly more attractive and useful. It integrates seamlessly with Facetime, it has context-sensitive options popping up that can be reacted to intuitively. It is a vast improvement and one I don’t hear a lot about.
Fantastical is how I get meetings into my calendar, whether its on the iPhone or the Mac. The natural language parsing is unmatched and it has been a staple on my phone since its release. On the phone, I use Drafts to send meetings to Fantastical and on the Mac, I use Alfred. Drafts and Alfred are like conduits that I use to shunt information to different programs throughout the day and both give me a single place to do so. Having a focused input area like this reduces friction and saves time.
Mynd was on my Home screen back in August 2013 when it released and didn’t quite make it into a permanent rotation but it has improved quite a bit since then. While not perfect, it does a lot of things well and many of its shortcomings are because I refuse to allow it to integrate with LinkedIn and Facebook (since I don’t use them). If you’re looking for a daily organizer that will coalesce the disparate threads of your day and tie them into one, nicely designed spot, you could do worse than Mynd. Tempo is also quite good if Mynd doesn’t work for you.
I also still keep a folder for apps that rotate in and out. Things like the Apple Clock app, Wunderlist, Tempo etc.
1Password remains. On a daily basis I hear nightmare stories about data loss, forgotten license keys, emergency bank account access and security breaches requiring mass password changes for websites sharing personal information that could have been alleviated if the persons involved had simply used 1Password. It is one of the most important apps on iOS and once you take the leap to integrate it into your digital life, it is a short leap to use it for everything. It is really a useful app once you start using it to its full potential.
Nebulous Notes is still a default iOS text file editor. Maybe someday there will be an iOS editor that will have all of the features that I need but for now, this one suffices. It has just enough to be useful but not so much that it confuses the tasks I’m trying to accomplish. Generally I need to access a file in Dropbox and look for something or do a quick edit. Nebulous is great for that. Quick notes that will eventually make it into Dropbox often start in Drafts so Nebulous is more of a text file viewer for me but its editing tools are powerful and the search is fantastic.
VSCOcam is the best iOS app for photo-taking and photo-manipulation. It takes amazing photographs and the filters are incredible. I use VSCO on my Mac in Lightroom as well. They seem to be a great company of smart, creative people making useful stuff. Support them.
Downcast is not the prettiest podcast app but it is particularly suited to what I want. I’ve tried many of the podcast darlings but I always return to Downcast because it is really smart about how it caches and manages podcast files and I can use its comprehensive set of rules to control how much space gets eaten up by the dozens of podcasts I don’t have time to listen to.
Contacts is… well yeah. It’s not great but I do use it quite often. I’m currently trying out Cobook. I’ve used it on and off and found it terrible. It does look like it has undergone some major changes so I’m putting it through its paces again.
YNAB(You Need a Budget) is my banking and budgeting app of choice. The iOS app is a conduit to feed my YNAB file on Dropbox so I can keep track of my finances but the entire ecosystem around YNAB is the best out there by far.
Awful is a standard for me, scanning the somethingawful forums for information about knives, Buddhism, games and wrong-headed ideas about True Detective.
Riposte is a great ADN client. I love the functionality and the look-and-feel. If you’re on ADN, you should be using Riposte.
Slack is an incredible app. I use it daily and for collaboration or just plain communication it does everything right. I can’t say enough good things about it but go try it out and you won’t be disappointed.
Mail is where I handle all of my work emails. It remains focused for that mainly because it works so well with Exchange and keeping my personal email segregated also keeps me sane.
Dark Sky is on the Home screen because it has the most accurate and clear weather reporting. I check it everyday when I wake up. For more a more in-depth view of the weather and for looking at more long range I switch over to The Weather Underground app which has some great charts and crowd-sourced local weather.
Boxer has been my main email client for a few months and I like it a lot. The configurable slide controls allow me to tweak to work with my crazy system of managing my inbox to zero. Sanebox is still working it’s magic by keeping less useful mail filed away in places where it makes sense until I have the time to get to it. I have to admit I’m perplexed by Boxer’s Sanebox1 “integration”. Regardless, it was enough to get me to try Sanebox which saves me hours per week of needless distraction and for that I’m grateful.
Taskpaper is now where OmniFocus used to be. I could write 6000 words on this fact but I’ll save it for another day.
Asana is a web-based team collaboration tool for managing projects and tasks. I use it for a specific project and it works pretty well. I think if you “lived” in this app and used it all day/every day it might be pretty great. As it is, it serves as a task manager for a very specific project.
Safari is still on the front page, useful as ever.
Trillian still gets some use. Most of my chat has moved to iMessage or Slack but there are still some folks who use PCs at work and want to use Gtalk since typing on their phone is a pain.
Messages is awesome. I know some people have problems with it but I have had very few issues since I reduced the number of ways you can initiate an iMessage chat with me. Combined with Chatology, its a great communcation tool.
Drafts is the Swiss Army knife of text. As I mentioned above, I send text from Drafts to lots of different destinations but it gives me a single place to start. Merlin Mann uses it for the same reason as described in the latest Mac Power Users podcast.
Launch Center Pro is a great app. I still use it for all of my Mac Mini control needs because, in two taps, I can be controlling the mouse or keyboard on the Mac Mini attached to my TV. I’ll write up another article about LCP some day but for now you should get the gist of how important this app is to me given its prime slot on the Home screen Dock
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