The 4 Best Productivity Apps to Organize Your Information

Whether you’re setting up a new business or running an existing company, you have lots of information to manage and store. Much of this lives in apps such as your accounting app, CRM tool, or a database. But there’s a lot of disparate information that you and your team need to make your business run smoothly. In this article, we’re going to look at some of the best productivity apps that you can use to store and organize information, and especially to share it with the rest of your team.

You probably already use some sort of cloud storage service to share files: you may use Dropbox, Google Drive, iCloud, or Microsoft One Drive to keep your business documents available to your team 24/7. But these document repositories aren’t the most efficient way to store disparate bits of information, such as clippings from interesting articles, links to websites you want to check out and share, or information such as to-do lists or notes. Most of these platforms do offer apps for this purpose, and we’ll look at these tools.

You have two options when choosing a tool for organizing information: you can use the app provided by the platform your team uses for its documents, or you can use something else. If all your team uses the Apple ecosystem, then Apple’s Notes app might work for you. If you work on Office 365, Microsoft OneNote will help you interface easily with your files. And if you’re a Google-based company, Google Keep might be what you need. However, these apps are not all created equally; not all of them are powerful enough for business needs.

Read the rest of the article on The Startup Finance Blog.

What Apple Notes Needs to Compete

I’ve been using Evernote for a few years, both as a repository of snippets and documents, and a tool for collaboration. It’s great for the latter, because you can share a notebook, which means that every note you add to that notebook is also shared automatically. And unlike, say, Google Docs, with Evernote, you can have all your content stored offline. (And you don’t need to use a web browser to access it.)

But reading this article on The Verge, it looks like Evernote may not last long. Perhaps the departure of “many executives” will lead to it being bought up by another company, and preventing its death, but it doesn’t look good, since they’re slashing their prices to get and retain users.

Apple notes

Apple Notes is a great tool – if you’re locked into the Apple platforms – but I can’t use it for what I want for several reasons. Apple could supercharge this app to make it more useful for “pro” users fairly easily, without turning it into the bloatware that is Microsoft OneNote. Here’s what they need to do:

  • They could add shared folders (the equivalent of notebooks in Evernote), allowing it to be more easily used for collaboration. Currently, you can share notes, and have to share each one individually with an email or iMessage.
  • They could provide some more advanced styling tools. Evernote essentially lets you style documents as you would in a word processor. Most people don’t need that many style options, but Notes is extremely simplistic, offering a half-dozen fixed styles and no easy way to apply alternate formatting. (You can select text and open the Font panel to change formatting, but that takes a lot longer than using Evernotes’ formatting bar.)
  • Evernote’s web clipper – a browser extension that lets you save a web page to Evernote with a couple of clicks – is one of the most powerful parts of the app. Notes only saves links. I find it more useful to have the full content of a page to be able to find things by searching for keywords.

I would like to be able to replace Evernote with Apple Notes; not because I don’t like Evernote, but because it doesn’t seem like a long-term solution, and because Notes is there on everything I use. But unfortunately, these three missing features make Notes too weak for me. And the lack of folder-level collaboration is a deal breaker. Let’s hope Apple sees the opening in the market and powers up Notes a bit more.

Learn How to Be More Productive with Take Control of Your Productivity

TCoYourProductivity 1 0 coverIf you’re like me, you have lots of tasks to juggle, and you may find that the tools you use aren’t sufficient to manage your work. Jeff Porten’s new book Take Control of Your Productivity has shown me that there are many options that I had not considered to develop a system to efficiently manage what I do.

Jeff has been studying and using a wide variety of productivity systems for decades, and although they all offer useful insights, none of them worked well for him. So Jeff developed a system that combines some of the best features of other approaches with his own “special sauce.” The result, described in detail in Take Control of Your Productivity, is a powerful yet flexible way to get all your ducks in a row and keep them there.

Whether you’ve been using a formal system like Getting Things Done or just making do with simple lists and calendars, this book will show you how to improve your approach so you can finish your projects and reach your goals–on time, with as little stress as possible.

Some of the things you’ll learn in this book:

  • What’s good (and bad) about your current approach to managing your time and activities
  • How to set and prioritize both short-term and long-term goals
  • How to pick a task-management app that’s appropriate for your needs (and whether that should be a simple app like Reminders, a more robust app such as Things or OmniFocus, or a super-complex tool such as Daylite)
  • What other productivity tools you’ll use alongside your main task management app, and how they all work together
  • Exactly how to track all your events and tasks, making sure everything happens in the right order
  • How to transition from an old system to your new system without worrying that anything will fall through the cracks
  • Where and how to collect all the thoughts and facts you encounter during the day that you might need to remember later–and what to do with them
  • What to do when you start on a task, only to find out that it’s much bigger than you expected
  • How to cope and adjust when something goes wrong–whether it’s a minor setback or a major life problem

Get Take Control of Your Productivity.

Learn How to Efficiently Use Scrivener with Take Control of Scrivener 3

Tc scrivener3The long-awaited new version of Scrivener (for Mac and iOS) was released a few weeks ago, and we’ve got a newly updated book to match! Take Control of Scrivener 3 by best-selling author Kirk McElhearn walks you through setting up, organizing, writing, formatting, revising, and compiling a Scrivener project, whether you’re working on a Mac or in iOS.

Scrivener is a powerful tool for managing long-form writing projects–such as novels and screenplays–and Take Control of Scrivener 3 gives you all the details you need to know to harness its potential. With Scrivener, you can start writing at any point in your work (end, middle, beginning), then easily move scenes, sections, and chapters until it’s exactly as you want. It also allows you store items such as research material, character sketches, and setting information in the same project file as your writing.

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Analyze Your Writing with Scrivener 3’s Linguistic Focus Tool

Scrivener 3 was recently released, and the app is full of useful improvements. With a refreshed interface, Scrivener 3 also boasts a brand new compile feature (this is the part of the app that exports your projects to various formats). It brings styles, as are common in word processors, making it easier to manage formatting in your projects. Outlining is improved, the Corkboard is enhanced, and statistics are available at a glance. If you currently use Scrivener 2, then it’s a must-have upgrade.

One feature I really like is Linguistic Focus. When you’re writing with Scrivener 3, and get near the end of your project, you may want to scan your work to find certain words you’ve used too much, such as adverbs, or you may want to focus just on the dialog if your work is fiction. Scrivener 3 has a useful new Linguistic Focus tool that can help you zero in on certain types of words and texts.

View a document or your entire project (by selecting your Draft or Manuscript folder), click anywhere in the Editor, then choose Edit > Writing Tools > Linguistic Focus (Control-Command-L). In the panel that appears, select a focus, such as nouns, verbs, or adverbs. Scrivener dims text in the Editor that doesn’t match that focus. (Depending on your Editor’s view, you may need to switch to Scrivenings view to display more than one file. To do this, choose View > Scrivenings, or press Command-1.)

If you select Direct Speech, Scrivener dims all text that is not between quotes, so you can scan dialog more easily.

Linguistic focus

To adjust the dimming of the un-focused text, use the Fade slider at the bottom of the Linguistic Focus panel; if you drag that slider all the way to the right, the un-focused text becomes invisible.

Note that the algorithm for choosing parts of speech is part of macOS and is not perfect, so you may find that certain words are mislabeled when you choose a specific part of speech.

Check out Scrivener 3, and get my book, Take Control of Scrivener 3, to learn how to be productive with this essential writing tool.

Say Hello to Scrivener 3 (and to My Book Take Control of Scrivener 3)

Scrivener3It’s been a long time coming, but it’s finally here. Scrivener 3, the first major update to the go-to text app for writers in seven years, is now available. I’ve been using this for several months, and it’s a solid upgrade to one of the most essential tools for writers.

With a refreshed interface, Scrivener 3 also boasts a brand new compile feature (this is the part of the app that exports your projects to various formats). It brings styles, as are common in word processors, making it easier to manage formatting in your projects. Outlining is improved, the Corkboard is enhanced, and statistics are available at a glance. If you currently use Scrivener 2, then it’s a must-have upgrade.

Tc scrivener3And you’ll probably want some expert guidance when you launch the app. My Take Control of Scrivener 3 ebook is now available so you can make your first steps with the new version of the app with plenty of support. Written with oversight from the Scrivener developers, this is the go-to book for getting the most out of this app.

Learn more about Take Control of Scrivener 3.

Here’s a list of the many new features in Scrivener 3:

  • The interface has been overhauled and modernised.
  • Compile has been redesigned and is now not only much easier to use but also more flexible.
  • The text system now has a full styles system (which is even more powerful when used with the new Compile).
  • View index cards on coloured threads based on label colour (great for tracking different storylines or anything else).
  • Epub 3 and improved Kindle export have been added.
  • Keep track of how much you write each day using Writing Statistics.
  • Improved Custom Metadata allows you to add checkboxes, dates and list boxes to the Inspector and outliner.
  • Enhanced outlining.
  • Corkboard and outliner filtering.
  • Refer to up to four documents in the main window using the new “Copyholders” features.
  • Quickly find any document in your project using the new Quick Search tool.
  • See draft and session progress bars in the toolbar.
  • The powerful new Bookmarks feature replaces Project Notes, References and Favorites, and allows you to view oft-needed documents right in the Inspector.
  • Use “Dialogue Focus” to pick out all the dialogue in your text.
  • Export rich text to MultiMarkdown or Pandoc.
  • Broadened support for technical formats via Markdown output and custom post-processing.
  • Extensive Touch Bar support added.
  • Modernised and rewritten codebase for 64-bit. Scrivener is faster, more stable and ready for the future.

Scrivener 3 costs $45 and is available from the Literature & Latte website. A Mac App Store version will be available soon. Upgrades are available, and a free 30-day download is also available. Scrivener 3 requires macOS 10.12 Sierra or later.

Get Scrivener 3 now, and get Take Control of Scrivener 3.

Collaborate with Apple’s iWork Apps: Pages, Numbers, and Keynote

In a recent article, I looked at options to move away from Microsoft Office when using macOS High Sierra. Microsoft has said that Office 2011 will not be supported by the new Mac operating system, so unless you have a more recent version of Office, or a subscription to Office 365, you’ll be out of luck.

Many people (myself included) use the Office apps occasionally, but not enough to justify a subscription, or to justify buying the latest Mac version. There are other options, one of which is Apple’s iWork apps. These apps have some interesting features for collaborating with others, notably on the web. You can use them in place of Google Docs or other web-based productivity tools, but still work on your Mac and iOS devices as well.

In this article, I want to give you an overview of how you can collaborate using the iWork apps, even with people who don’t have these apps. You’ll see that they can be a good, free solution to replace Microsoft Office or other productivity tools.

Read the rest of the article on The Mac Security Blog.

Microsoft Office for Mac 2011 Not Supported on macOS High Sierra

macOS High Sierra is due to be released to the general public today, and it’s a good idea to prepare your Mac before upgrading. While it’s imperative to prepare ahead of time, we also want to highlight the supportability of software that many Mac users depend on: Microsoft Office for Mac.

Do you use Office for Mac 2011? Well, as of macOS 10.13 High Sierra, Microsoft is dropping support for Office 2011. This means that, if you depend on this software, you need to make some changes. You have several options of which we will focus on below.

Read the rest of the article on The Mac Security Blog.

Timing 2.0 review: Mac software for professionals to track billable time

If you need to track your time, there are plenty of apps that can help you. Many of them are designed for freelancers who need to track billable time so they can invoice clients, but others track activity on your Mac, so you can know where your day has gone. Timing ($29, $49, or $79) combines both of these features, allowing you to easily start and stop projects, to know how much to bill, and also see which apps you use, and which websites you visit.

For many people, this latter feature is a novelty; you can see exactly how much time you spend on Facebook or Twitter, for example. But some professionals may bill time spent in a specific app or on a specific website for their clients. If this is the case, Timing can automatically add up all that time, so you don’t even need to tell the app when you’ve started working on a project and when you’ve finished.

Read the rest of the article on Macworld.