Getting started with Getting Things Done

10 tools to help you get productive and in control

In this post, I will show you some tools that will not only help you get productive but also help you to get control of your email, appointments, and shopping lists. Learn how to automate routine tasks, synchronize bookmarks and open tabs between browsers and, last but not least, how to back it all up safely.

The below tools are all a part of my personal productivity setup. Together, these applications have supercharged my productivity as well as given me peace of mind because I know where to find all of my appointments, tasks, contacts, and internet bookmarks.

 

1. Todoist

www.todoist.com
Android, iOS, Mac, Linux, Windows, Web

help you get productiveProductivity starts with getting all of your to-do items into a trusted system. There is nothing better than the Getting Things Done methodology, developed by David Allen, to achieve this.

If you do not know about GTD, I would recommend reading Getting Things Done – What is it?

There is a lot of GTD apps out there. I have tested most of them and would recommend Todoist.

For a guide on how to set up Todoist for GTD, read My Todoist GTD setup – Part 1. and My Todoist GTD setup – Part 2. A part of what makes Todoist my productivity weapon of choice is the email integration with Outlook and Newton. This trio will truly help you get productive.

 

2. Google Calendar

calendar.google.com
Android, iOS, Web

help you get productiveEverything that has to be done at a certain time goes into my calendar. Google Calendar is the perfect hub for syncing multiple calendars from multiple platforms.

 

 

 

 

 

3. Microsoft Outlook

products.office.com/en-us/outlook
Windows*

outlookMicrosoft Outlook is not perfect, but it is the absolute best desktop tool to handle email and calendar events, especially in an office environment. With the Todoist Outlook Add-in, Outlook becomes my one-stop shop for email, appointments, and tasks.

*The Todoist Outlook add-in works only on Outlook for Windows.

 

 

4. gSyncit

www.fieldstonsoftware.com/software/gsyncit4/
Windows

gsyncitgSyncit is a handy tool that synchronizes Outlook with a lot of different applications. I use it for syncing my Outlook Calendar with my Google Calendar and my Outlook Contacts with Google Contacts.

gSyncit comes with a lot of options on how and when to do the synchronization. As mentioned earlier I use  Google Calendar as my “hub” meaning that everything ends up in my Google Calendar, but not necessarily in all of my Outlook installations. I use Outlook on all of my computers, both privately and professionally, but I have set it up so that I keep my private appointments out of my work calendar.

My sync setup:
Outlook Calendar – Work –> Google Calendar
Outlook Calendar – Private <–> Google Calendar
Outlook Contacts – Private <–> Google Contacts

This means that my work calendar only contains my work appointments but that my Google Calendar contains all of my appointments, both private and work related.

 

 

5. Newton

 

newtonhq.com
Android, iOS, Mac

newton

I use Newton for email on-the-go. The reason I choose to pay for Newton is the integration with Todoist, OneNote, and Evernote as well as the combined inbox. Newton is a tool that makes the way to Inbox Zero so much easier.

Besides, Newton also has other cool features such as Send later, Undo send, Read receipts, Snooze, and Sender profile.

Newton recently changed its name from CloudMagic.

 

 

 

6. Pomodoro

www.pomodorotechnique.com

PomodoroPomodoro is a great way to help you focus on the task you are doing and at the same time take a break at set intervals. I find that it makes the boring tasks much more easy to do.

More information can be found in my blog post The Pomodoro method – scheduled concentration.

 

 

 

7. IFTTT

www.ifttt.com
Android, iOS, Web

iftttIFTTT is shorthand for If This Then That. It is a web-based service that let you set up event-based conditional statements. In plain English, this means that if something happens in one application, you can get something to happen in another application. IFTTT is a tool that will help you get productive without you having to lift a finger. It doesn’t get much better than that.

To get you started: Here is a list of the 110 best IFTTT recipes from PC Mag.

Examples from my own life:

  • When I get an SMS message, it is automatically forwarded to my Todoist inbox.
  • When I have an unanswered phone call, I will get a task in Todoist saying Call back <phone number>.
  • When I save a story on NewsBlur, a link to the same story is created in as a new note in Evernote.

 

 

8. Listonic

Android, iOS, Web
www.listonic.com

help you get productiveListonic is list tool that has totally changed how we do shopping in my family. Now, every shopping list is shared between my wife and me.

The synchronization is instant, meaning that my wife and I can move separately tthrough the store, working on the same shopping list.

 

 

 

 

 

9. Google Chrome browser

www.google.com/chrome/browser/desktop/
Android, iOS, Linux, Mac, Windows

help you get productiveThe browser from Google is not a productivity tool in itself but deserves a place on this list due to some very handy extensions that really help you get productive.

With the Todoist extension, I can create a task from a web page. Using the Evernote extension, I can quickly clip any information from a web page into Evernote.

The browser has built-in functionality for syncing bookmarks and open tabs. That way I can continue reading the same content on my phone as I was reading on my computer before leaving the office.

 

 

10. CrashPlan

www.crashplan.com
Android, iOS, Mac, Web, Windows

help you get productiveHaving a trusted backup system does not really help you get productive, but it does make you sleep better at night.

I have tried a lot of things regarding backup. After losing thousands of files back in 2011, I set out on a quest to make the ultimate backup system. I will not go into details here, except to say that for my external backup I selected CrashPlan in 2012 and have not looked back since.

What makes CrashPlan stand out from its competitors is the backup speed – a VERY important factor, as well as the unlimited storage space.

5 comments

  1. Hi Bjørn Christian, and thanks for ome more interesting post 🙂

    I have one question: what are you using for note taking, and how do you capture todos from you notes (guess the last part is how you get them into Todoist)?

    1. Hi Ole,

      Thanks for your kind words.

      Due to the fact that my employer has standardized on Microsoft products, I use MS OneNote for minutes of meetings and general notes. OneNote has a very good integration with Outlook, making it easy to start from Outlook and get minutes that are linked to the calendar event. In OneNote, I’m using the checkbox symbol to indicate tasks. I will then email the note from OneNote to myself and thereafter use the Todoist Outlook add-in to create a task. It sounds more complicated than it is. 🙂 Copy/paste is another option.

      If you are not bound to Microsoft it can be worth the effort to check out Evernote. That is what I use for my personal notes.

      I’m already working on a follow-up to today’s post where I will be writing about this topic and how to handle reference information. Due to the upcoming London Cocktail Week, this will not be published for about 2-3 weeks.

  2. Well, I like to share another productivity Outlook add-in with you guys. Tool two years ago, Google Calendar sync could help me get calendar sync done in Outlook. After it was discontinued, I found an alternative to it, called EVO Collaborator for Outlook. I am pretty happy with it because i can use it to sync not only Google Calendar but also my iCloud calendar, contact and tasks.

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