Although I’m quite partial to a simple pen and paper to write lists and churn through tasks, there are a handful of tools that undoubtedly help me get the job done a lot quicker.The large majority of apps I use are incredibly simple and have a very specific purpose.

If you’re looking to kick-start 2017, here’s a list of apps that’s bound to boost your productivity.

Note: Most of these are available online and/or across all platforms. I’m using them on a Mac.


№ 1 – Evernote

Before working at Pearson, I tried several times to use Evernote. It wasn’t until I was completely overwhelmed in my new job that I realised its value.

Now, I can’t see myself using anything else to keep notes and stay on top of all my work.

It’s very simple. You create various Notebooks, fill them up with notes, and you can use Templates to save you time.

Cost: FREE (Premium Available)


№ 2 – Trello

If you take just one tool from this list, make it this one!

Trello is extraordinarily versatile but in it’s simplest form, it’s essentially a Kanban board with columns: To do, Doing, Done.

I use it for several things including High-level Roadmaps, Release Planning, Sprints, Retrospectives, etc…

Cost: FREE


№ 3 – Noisli

Do you ever find yourself just looking at a blank screen with writer’s block? Well, it could be because you’re sitting in silence.

Noisli plays relaxing sounds like rain, birds and coffee shops to help’s you focus and gives you a productivity boost.

Cost: FREE

iA Writer

№ 4 – iA Writer

There has been an influx of Markdown/Distraction free writers in recent years, but for me, the original is still the best.

At first, it solely focused on writing. Since then, they’ve added a few important but subtle features that are made it more versatile; without losing its soul.

Unfortunately there isn’t a Windows version but you can use Dilinger in the browser. You’ll be able to access your iA/Markdown files through Dropbox.

Cost: £7.99 on Mac – Although the Legacy version may still be available for Free.


№ 5 – Atom

I love Sublime Text and have used it for several years but the lack of updates and support made me switch to Atom.

The best thing about Atom is how similar it is to Sublime. Themes, Packages, Hackability, Personalisation, it has the lot – It’s also completely Free!

Cost: FREE

Adobe Illustrator

№ 6 – Adobe Illustrator

The staple of Vector Design tools. I use it for Wireframes, Logos, Typography and exporting graphics in SVG.

It compliments the browser so well and is arguably the easiest Adobe Tool to learn.

There are a few Free alternatives such as Gravit.

Cost: £17 p/m


№ 7 – MindNode

Mind maps are one of the most effective ways you can get an idea onto paper, to visualise the moving parts and see the bigger picture.

I use it to brainstorm ideas and look at projects from a high level. It provides a unique way to collaborate with others and organise yourself in a way that conventional task-managers/word processors can’t.

A really good online alternative is Mindmeister but it’s subscription based and overall, slightly expensive at £6 p/m

Cost: FREE


№ 8 – Instapaper

Instapaper is essentially a bookmarking tool. Whenever you find any sort of content you’d like to read later, Instapaper will save it for you at a click of a button.

You can review your saved content in the browser or through their mobile apps.

It’s one my of most used apps and makes research a breeze.

Since Instapaper joined forces with Pinterest, the premium version was made available to everyone – For free.

Cost: FREE


№ 9 – Flux

Flux adjusts the brightness and colour of your screen as you go through the day. So it’s bright white during the day and dimmed warmer tones in the evening.

Do your eyes a favour and download Flux now. You can always turn it off if you’re working with colour.

There’s a similar feature built right into iOS.

Cost: FREE

Google Photos

№ 10 – Google Photos

I’ve probably recommended this app more than any other from this list.

You take photos and the App automatically backs it up to the cloud. Once that’s done, you can safely delete the copy off your phone.

It just works. No more worrying about losing precious memories as the memory on your phone diminishes.

Cost: FREE

Notable Mentions

  • MC Snap by Mailchimp for creating and sending Newsletters right from your phone.
  • Google Suite for creating documents, spreadsheets and presentations in the browser.
  • Skitch for annotating anything really. Works well with Evernote.
  • Ember for creating your own repository of screenshots. Has a built in RSS feed and browser.

Apps You’re Probably Using

  • Dropbox for Cloud storage and sharing
  • Spotify for the music
  • HipChat or Slack for team communication
  • Buffer for managing your social media