30+ Apps to Help You Work Less and Do More

Which productivity apps does Get-It-Done Guy rely on to keep his life running?

Stever Robbins,
March 22, 2016
Episode #400

Page 2 of 3

When I need to caption an image, I use OVER and RETYPE.

When I need a calculator, I use PowerOne FE for a calculator that also lets me set up templates and solve equations. It’s extremely handy. 

One of my favorite tools for both smartphone and desktop is CALCA, which lets me mix text, Markdown, and equations. Only it actually solves and calculates equations. I use Calca when I want to do calculations and also make notes about what and why I’m doing those calculations. When evaluating a business opportunity, planning a trip, or structuring a deal, Calca is my tool of choice.

Reference and Organizing

I store all my notes as text, because I’ve been using computers long enough to realize that any proprietary format like Word or Pages will be obsolete in a few years. Text will be around for a very, very long time. When the cockroaches dig up the remains of our civilization, I want them to be able to read my notes.

I format my text with Markdown and store it in SimpleNote (the app and the website) to sync and scan them. Simplenote is blindingly fast. I have about 2,000 reference notes in Simplenote. If I were starting from scratch, I’d probably use the Apple Notes to store my notes, but I’d still keep them plain text, Markdown-formatted. 

When organizing or sharing other kinds of files, there’s a lot out there that does not work, but here’s what I’ve discovered ... 

I create and share free-form drawings in real-time with Jot. I use TRANSMIT for SFTP and directly accessing my website files from my iPhone or iPad. Prompt lets me Telnet to my website for shell access. (If you don’t know what those things mean, pretend I was just talking about butterflies. Pretty, pretty butterflies.)

Capturing, Scanning, and PDFs

SCANNER PRO by Readdle is my go-to app for scanning. That is, capturing crisp black and white images for business. It’s what I use for keeping photos of checks, turning receipt photos into PDF files, and backing up my paper notebooks. GOOD READER is a multipurpose file reader where I store any and all documents that I’ll want to read on my phone. It can even turn PDFs into text, to make them easier to read. 

There’s a lot out there that does not work, but here’s what I’ve discovered does. 

ScanBizCards can’t be beat. When you scan a business card, it translates the card’s printed text into an iPhone contact and gives you the option to add it to your address book. 

And lastly, QR codes have fallen out of fashion, but when I need to scan one, I use QuickScan by iHandy. The program is annoyingly ad-oriented, but of all the QR programs I’ve used, it has the best functionality.

Email and Contacts, oh my!

I’m always looking for ways to overcome the email program woes that plague me. My current favorite app is Spark, by Readdle. Spark separates out notifications and new mail, and makes it easy to “pin” important email, and snooze messages for return to your inbox later. 

My main address book app, after trying a gazillion of them, is plain old Apple Contacts. But I augment it with Groups, which lets me manage groups of contacts in a flexible way.


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